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Your body, your baby – 3rd trimester

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

The third trimester of pregnancy is termed as months 7 through 10 and weeks 26-40.  It is really important to continue to make smart choices for your baby including having good nutrition.  Too many women focus on weight gain and feel they’ve put on too much by the time they reach this trimester so they scale back.  THIS IS NOT THE TIME FOR A DIET!  Your baby’s brain grows the most rapidly around month 8 and it needs all it’s nutrients for healthy growth.

What your body is doing

Month 7:

  • Your ankles and feet may swell
  • Stretch marks may appear on the abdomen and breasts as they get bigger
  • You may have contractions. This is normal, but call your health care provider if you have more than five contractions in one hour,
  • As your belly gets bigger, you may lose your sense of balance

Month 8:

  • You may feel stronger contractions this month
  • You may have some leakage of colostrum (the fluid that will feed your baby until your milk comes in) from your breasts
  • You may have trouble sleeping because it is hard to get comfortable
  • You may have shortness of breath as the baby crowds your lungs
  • The baby may crowd your stomach
  • The top of your uterus lies just under your rib cage

Month 9 & 10:

  • Your belly button may stick out
  • Your breathing should be easier once the baby drops, but you’ll have to urinate more often because the baby is pressing on your bladder
  • Swelling of ankles and feet may increase
  • Your cervix will open up (dilate) and thin out (efface) as it prepares for birth
  • You may be uncomfortable because of the pressure and weight of the baby

What your baby is doing


Month 7:

  • The baby can open and close her eyes and suck her thumb
  • The baby exercises by kicking and stretching
  • The baby responds to light and sound
  • The baby is now about 15 to 16 inches long and weighs about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds

Month 8:

  • Rapid brain growth continues
  • The baby is too big to move around much, but he can kick strongly and roll around
  • You may notice the shape of an elbow or heel against your abdomen
  • Bones of the head are soft and flexible to make it easier for the baby to fit through the birth canal
  • Fingernails have grown to tips of fingers
  • Lungs may still be immature
  • Your baby is now about 18 to 19 inches long and weighs about 4 to 5 pounds

Month 9 & 10:

  • At 37 to 40 weeks, your baby is full term
  • The baby’s lungs are mature and ready to function on their own
  • The baby gains about 1/2 pound a week
  • The baby usually drops into a head-down position and rests lower in your abdomen
  • By the end of the ninth month, the baby is 19 to 21 inches long and weighs 6 to 9 pounds

Your body, your baby – 1st trimester

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

The first trimester of pregnancy is termed as months 1,2 and 3 and weeks 1 through 12.  Many women experience pregnancy in different ways with different mental, emotional and physical responses.  Here are some things that you may encounter.

What your body is doing

Month 1:

  • Your body is making lots of hormones needed to grow a baby
  • Your breasts are slightly bigger and sore and may tingle
  • You may have morning sickness
  • You may crave some foods or hate foods you usually like
  • You may need to urinate more frequently

Month 2:

  • Your breasts are still sore and are enlarging; your nipples and the area around them begin to darken
  • You will urinate more often because your growing uterus is pressing on your bladder
  • Morning sickness may continue
  • You may feel tired and need to rest more as your body adjusts to being pregnant
  • The total amount of blood in your body increases

Month 3:

  • You may still feel tired and have morning sickness
  • You may have headaches and get lightheaded or dizzy. If these symptoms persist or are severe, tell your health care provider.
  • Your clothes may begin to feel tight around your waist and breasts

What you baby is doing

Month 1:

  • Your baby is about the size of a pea
  • The placenta is beginning to form
  • Tiny limb buds, which will grow into arms and legs, appear
  • The heart and lungs begin to form. By the 22nd day, the heart starts to beat
  • The neural tube, which becomes the brain and spinal cord, begins to form
  • At the end of the first month, your baby is about 1/4 inch long

Month 2:

  • All major body organs and systems are formed but not completely developed
  • Early stages of the placenta, which exchanges nutrients from your body for waste products produced by the baby, are visible and working
  • Ears, ankles and wrists are formed. Eyelids form and grow but are sealed shut.
  • Fingers and toes are developed
  • By the end of the second month, your baby is about 1 inch long and still weighs less than 1/3 ounce

Month 3:

  • Fingers and toes have soft nails
  • The mouth has 20 buds that will become baby teeth
  • Fine hairs begin to form on the baby’s skin
  • You can hear your baby’s heartbeat for the first time (10 to 12 weeks) using a special instrument called a doptone
  • For the rest of pregnancy, all body organs will mature and the baby will gain weight
  • By end of this month, the baby is about 2 1/2 to 3 inches long and weighs about 1 ounce

Your body, your baby – 2nd trimester

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

The second trimester of pregnancy is termed as months 4, 5 and 6 and weeks 13-25.  Some women refer to this as the dream trimester as all of their discomforts from the first trimester are gone, they’ve settled into their nesting and they actually look and feel pregnant.  You should continue to make smart choices for your baby including having good nutrition, doing regular and prenatal exercises and visiting with a health care professional.

What your body is doing

Month 4:

  • Your appetite increases as morning sickness goes away and will probably gain around 3 to 4 pounds
  • You should begin to feel more energetic
  • Toward the end of the fourth month (16 to 20 weeks), you might feel your baby move for the first time; tell your health care provider
  • Your belly begins to show—you probably will need maternity clothes and bigger bras now


Month 5:

  • If you haven’t already, you will begin to feel your baby moving. Tell your health care provider.
  • Your uterus has grown to the height of your belly button
  • Your heart beats faster
  • You may need eight or more hours of sleep each night. During the day, take rest breaks if tired. Don’t push yourself.


Month 6:

  • You may feel the baby kicking strongly now
  • The skin on your growing belly may start to itch
  • Your back may hurt. Wear low-heeled shoes or flats. Don’t stand for long periods of time. Exercise can help. You may feel pain down the sides of your belly as your uterus stretches the ligaments that support it.

What you baby is doing

Month 4:

  • By the end of the fourth month, your baby is 6 to 7 inches long and weighs about 4 to 5 ounces
  • Makes smacking movements with lips and may suck thumb
  • Has eyelids that are shut to protect the eyes while they are forming
  • The baby moves, kicks and swallows
  • The skin is pink and transparent
  • The umbilical cord continues to carry nourishment from mother to baby—but it also can pass along hazards like alcohol, nicotine and other drugs

Month 5: 

  • The baby becomes more active, turning from side to side and sometimes head over heels
  • Finger and toe prints can be seen
  • The baby sleeps and wakes at regular intervals
  • This is a month of rapid growth. At the end of the fifth month, your baby is about 10 inches long and weighs 1/2 to 1 pound


Month 6: 

  • The skin is red and wrinkled and covered with fine, soft hair
  • Eyelids begin to part and the eyes open
  • The baby continues to grow rapidly. At end of the sixth month, the baby is about 12 inches long and weighs 1 1/2 to 2 pounds

It’s time to Preggercise

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Put on your wrist bands, your headband, your leg warmers and your leotard – it’s time to preggercise!

In addition to your continuation of general exercises and Kegels that we’ve discussed before, there are some other pregnancy exercises that can help you to get in good condition for your natural birth.


This exercise gets your body in the natural alignment for birth.  It also helps to condition your leg muscles.  This position is imitated in most birthing positions and squatting in labor shortens the birth canal and second stage and opens the pelvis outlet by more than 10%. 

Stand straight with legs spaced comfortably apart.  Bend your knees slightly, tuck your hips under, then bend forward and squat with both heels flat on the floor.  To return, raise your tail end first halfway, then place your hands on your knees and bring yourself all the way back up.

You may need support from your partner by locking wrists as your belly grows and at first you may not be able to keep your feet flat on the ground.  Do this exercise any time you need to pick up something.

Pelvic Rocking 

This exercise is the cure all to a lot of pregnancy aches and pains.  It relieves pressure on the lower back, blood vessels, uterus and bladder.  It increases circulation and improves digestion.  Pelvic rocking tones and conditions your lower back and abdominal muscles.

Get down on your hands and knees, relax your back, then level off and tuck hips under.  Only the lower half of the body should move and the back should not be arched.

You should aim to do a few sets of a few repetitions every day.

Tailor Sitting 

This exercise stretches the inner thighs.  It also increases circulation and encourages the uterus to move forward.

Sit on the floor with your legs crossed.  Maintain good posture.  You can vary your position by leaning back or forward or stretching open a leg or two occasionally.

Gradually incorporate this into your daily routine.


This exercise conditions your abductor muscles and allows you to pull your legs back more comfortably in second stage labor.

Sit on the floor leaning against a wall with your knees bent and up and your feet together and flat on the floor.  Your partner uses the palms of his hands on the outside of your knees to apply gentle resistance while you try to open your legs.  Go down as far as comfortable and return without resistance to the starting point.

One set of ten once a day is sufficient.

Side relaxation/sleep position

This exercise/position helps circulation and allows for all of baby’s weight to be supported. 

Lay on your side with both knees slightly bent and the top leg forward supported by a pillow.  Another pillow may support your head and breasts and perhaps one under your belly.  Your bottom arm can be behind you or over above your head.

The point of this exercise is to have every part of your body supported so there is no added weight or stress on any part of your body and nothing is getting circulation restricted.  Use this position for sleeping.

As with any physical exercise, you should consult your medical professional with any questions or concerns or if you have any pregnancy complications, back, neck or knee injuries.

Exercise instructions are paraphrased from The Bradley Method® Student Workbook, 2008 by Marjie, Jay and James Hathaway

Let’s get physical

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Regular physcial exercises during pregnancy goes hand and hand with good nutrition and pregnancy exercises.  Giving birth is a physical activity in itself and requires training and physical preparedness.  The condition you are in physically will make a difference in your birth.  You will use muscles you haven’t used before and stamina will be needed.

As with any physical exercise, you should consult your medical professional with any questions or concerns or if you have any pregnancy complications, back, neck or knee injuries.  While pregnant, you should avoid lying on your back, jogging or bouncing, balance exercises, overworking yourself and raising your temperature or pulse beyond a safe range and anything that hurts when you are exercising.  Make sure to stay hydrated and avoid exhaustion.

Many women can continue to do the activity or exercise that they are used to doing but the intensity may need to be modified.  Walking is a great exercise for pregnant women and especially in late pregnancy it can help to align baby and bring him down or even speed up labor.  Swimming is an exercise I really enjoyed while pregnant.  It takes a lot of weight and pressure off due to the buoyancy and equilibriating effect of water.  Kickboards are useful in late pregnancy as well to help ease the exercise.

It is also good to continue with regular exercise post-pregnancy as well (once given the go ahead by your medical professional).  There are a lot of great options that include baby (they make great resistance) in your routine as well.

Vocabulary quiz: “Hoo-hoo”, “vah-j-j” and other terms your mama didn’t know you heard on the school bus

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

(…and sometimes I had to explain those terms to my mom.)

Let’s see what we all know and don’t know about pregnancy and childbirth terminology*.  Hint: just like those high school assessment tests and college placement exams, the rumor is true: when in doubt, choose “C”.

1) Vagina

a) Topic of a Broadway show

b) Technical term for hoo-hoo, vah-j-j, down there, etc.

c) Birth canal

2) Perineum

a) Per 1000 years

b) A place you would have to be crazy to want to get pierced

c) The skin and tissues between the vagina and the anus

3) Urethra

a) A female Motown singer

b) Word that we have so many other words to use instead of it

c) Tube which carries urine from bladder to exterior of body

4) Kegel

a) A brand of sausage

b) Not to be mistakenly pronounced for kee-gal

c) Name for the pelvic floor muscle that runs from the symphysis pubis in front to the coccyx in back which supports the abdominal organs and uterus; also name of exercises to strengthen it

5) Braxton-Hicks contraction

a) A legal binder between Toni and Taylor

b) The shortened form of Braxtonheimer and Hicksenschmidt

c) Normal intermittent painless uterine contractions

6) Engagement

a) The ceremony you hope your daughter goes through before getting knocked up

b) The ceremony you hope you son goes through before he says oops

c) The entrance of the presenting part of the baby into the pelvis prior to birth

7) Bloody show

a) English man’s term for a performance

b) The warning/rating for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films

c) Passage of blood tinged mucous or mucous plug prior to onset of labor as the cervix begins to dilate

 8) Dilation

a) What they do to your eyes at the ophthalmologist’s office (the ophtha who?)

b) The method of making a call with rotary phones

c) The act of opening the cervix to approximately 10 cm

9) Effacement

a) A meeting in person

b) A confrontation

c) The act of thinning the cervix, usually expressed in percentage

10) Afterbirth

a) The rumored cosmetic of how Dick Clark looks so youthful

b) The period of time directly following pushing your baby out

c) The placenta and membranes expelled after the baby is born

11) Station

a) What you listen to the radio on

b) Where you pump your gas

c) The downward progress of the baby relative to the ischial spines expressed in cm, i.e.: -1, +2, etc.

12) Lochia

a) The payback for 10 months of no menstruation

b) What your doctor didn’t forewarn you about

c) The bloody discharge for several weeks following birth

13) Vaginal exam

a) What a guy tries to do on the first date

b) What a guy tries to do on the second date

c) Entering the vagina with gloved hand to assess the dilation, effacement, descent and position of baby.

14) Crowning

a) The ceremony when a new matriarch is enthroned.

b) The fake tear/ “I cannot believe it”/bobby pin the bling on portion of any beauty pageant.

c) The portion of second stage labor when the baby’s head pushes the tissues forward looking like a crown.

15) Breech

a) A security risk

b) Something misrepresented, not what you thought it was

c) Presentation of baby with buttocks, foot or feet first.

 How to score your quiz:

13-15 correct:  You need to contact me regarding taking a natural childbirth class since I told you all the correct answers were “C” but I can give you a few since some of the others can technically be true statements as well.

9-12 correct:  You need to contact me regarding taking a natural childbirth class AND a reading comprehension class since I told you all the correct answers were “C”.

 5-8 correct:  You need to contact me regarding taking a natural childbirth class AND a reading comprehension class AND perhaps a math class since I told you all the correct answers were “C”.

1-4 correct:  You need to contact me regarding taking a natural childbirth class AND a reading comprehension class AND perhaps a math class AND I will provide the funding for these classes since you must not have a job with such little regard for direction since I told you all the correct answers were “C”.

0 correct:  I give up.  Are you getting anything out of what I’m trying to teach you here?!?!


*All definitions taken from my imagination, The Urban Dictionary and The Bradley Method® Student Workbook – you decide which.

School is in session. Your teacher’s name is Mother Nature.

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Yes, contrary to our own basic instinct, I feel that women do need to learn to give birth naturally.  Faithfully, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me but I am not so obedient in letting Him do His work.  I have a mortal enemy: my brain and it tends to get in the way of a lot of things.  I believe our own mental interference and relying on doctors too much inhibits our body’s natural processes and we need education, training and practice on how to let nature take it’s course.  That is why I am such a big proponent of childbirth classes.

In general, childbirth preparatory classes from hospitals (one 2-4 hour session) are fine to get some basics of labor and delivery, but in preparing for a natural childbirth, you will typically find childbirth courses taught (multi-week series t0 cover all topics surrounding pregnancy and birth).  Some people get turned off by the fee of such a course or the time commitment to it and they resort to an attitude of “I’ll just read the books”.  Who remembers their school days and examinations?  Was the material on the test only what was in the text book?  I have said it before, the investment in time and cost are immeasurable when you know you’ve given your baby the best start to life by making informed choices and avoiding medication.  I have never heard of a student of a natural childbirth class say it was a waste of money or time.  Many, myself included, marvel at what they didn’t know going in but now feel so prepared and empowered to give birth.

The content of many natural childbirth courses often includes nutrition and exercise, breastfeeding, anatomy, stages of labor and delivery, comfort measures for pregnancy, pain relief methods, complications and newborn and postpartum care.

One very important aspect to taking a natural childbirth class is that it allows you to feel confident in making decisions for your own medical care.  Even though, I support doctors and all that they do and God Bless them, they have done wonderful things to save mothers’ and babies’ lives, I feel that society defaults to whatever a doctor recommends.  Remember, they are human too and do not know it all.  We have every right to ask questions, challenge why, get second opinions and switch doctors if we are not getting the care we feel we should be.  This goes with all medical care, not just obstetric care.

I am a bit biased toward one natural childbirth class since I took it during my first pregnancy and now I teach The Bradley Method®.  It differentiates from others through it’s focus on relaxation techniques and promotion of having your husband as an active labor coach.  Dr. Bradley’s belief was the husband should be there to finish what he started and was pioneer on getting dads to be allowed in the labor and delivery room.  The course is 12 weeks which are needed to thoroughly cover the many topics as well as provide time for practice exercises.  I found these classes played right into my engineering, organizational mind as there were always repeated categories of topics (nutrition, exercise, communication, relaxation, coaching and labor rehearsal) each week to reinforce learning (I like structure).  I also really enjoyed the videos (I had never seen the “money shot” before my class) and games (ask my husband and family, I always win at cards and games) we played in class.  The most attractive part about the class, is over 86% of Bradley trained couples have unmedicated births!  So you see I am partial to The Bradley Method®, but if something ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I am a list person (if you haven’t figured that out already) so I will wrap things up with the benefits of taking a natural childbirth class (in no particular order):

  • you learn how to be physcially comfortable carrying around a watermelon in your tummy
  • you get answers to common questions and clear up myths like heartburn means a hairy-headed baby
  • you receive information about concerns (and fear is caused by the unknown and fear causes tension)
  • you learn about how the baby got there, how it grows and what your lady parts are for
  • you learn about complications and abnormal symptoms 
  • you learn how to prevent premature labor through good nutrition and exercises 
  • you learn how to involve your family in your pregnancy and/or birth or you discover you want them far, far away (not even in the waiting room) 
  • you learn good communication skills and birth plans 
  • you learn how to recognize labor signs 
  • you learn about support options
  • you learn what to expect during labor and birth
  • you learn about pain management and pain relief methods
  • you learn about caring for your new baby and yourself after the birth 
  • you learn about the benefits of breastfeeding
  • you learn how to be a good consumer of medical care and understand all choices are yours to make for you
  • you learn self-confidence and that anyone can do it, even you

It’s 40 weeks*, PEOPLE!

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

One of my pet peeves regarding misconceptions of conception is that the duration of pregnancy is NOT nine months, it’s 40 weeks.

I don’t know why the terminology “back in the day” was to call it 9 months and now it’s published everywhere by the know-it-alls as 40 weeks.  Some people say it’s lunar months versus calendar months.  I wondered if they used to count differently (like from the day of fertilization instead of from the first day of your last menstrual cycle), but in any case, I am tired of this misuse of terminology.  Especially on sitcoms and TV shows.  I mean, come on, there has to be one writer on that show that is a woman who has given birth or even an enlightened man who knows.

To me, with my engineering background, it’s a numbers game.  So let’s crunch some numbers:

  • 40 weeks is 280 days.
  • An average month is 30.4 days (based on 365 days in a year divided by 12 months).
  • 9 months then equals 274 days (rounding up).

It’s close, yes, but when you get to be 275 days along, it’s not close enough.  Also, if you count your pregnancy by weeks, which is the standard way it’s measured, then when I was 36 weeks along, I was not pushing a baby out (like the 9 month term users would presume, since 9 times 4 = 36) and that last month seemed to drag on forever so I hated hearing comments regarding “any day now”.

So…40 weeks or 9 months?  Like I said, it’s a pet-peeve of mine.  Maybe it doesn’t bother anyone else out there, but I thought I’d share my perspective on it.

*On a side note, the normal range of pregnancy is 37 to 42 weeks.  But did you know the average duration of pregnancy is 41 1/7 weeks?  Keep that in mind when you are considering inducing or scheduling a cesarean section.  Your baby needs to come out on his time, when he and you are both physically and mentally ready.  No one is pregnant forever and thank goodness we are not African elephants with a gestational period of 660-760 days.