Week Twenty-six of Your Pregnancy

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Week 26 Info

WEEK 26

Your baby now weighs 1 2/3 pounds and measures 14 inches from head to heel "like an English hothouse cucumber".  He's inhaling and exhaling small amounts of amniotic fluid, which is essential for the development of his lungs.  These so-called breathing movements are also good practice for when he's born and takes that first gulp of air.  He can kick, cry and hiccup now.

Your lower back may be a little achy these days due to your growing uterus.  It shifts your center of gravity forward, stretches out and weakens your abdominal muscles, and may be pressing on a nerve.  Also, hormonal changes are loosening your joints and ligaments and the extra weight you're carrying means more work for your muscles.  A warm bath or hot compress might bring relief.  Try to maintain good posture during the day, avoid activities that require bending and twisting at the same time, take frequent breaks when sitting or standing, and sleep on your side with one or both knees bent and a pillow between your legs, using another pillw to support your abdomen.

Most women have a glucose screening test "also called a glucose challenge test or GCT" between now and 28 weeks. This test checks for gestational diabetes, a pregnancy-related high-blood-sugar condition. Untreated diabetes increases your risk of having a difficult vaginal delivery or needing a cesarean section because it causes your baby to grow too large, especially in his upper body. It also raises your baby's odds for other complications like low blood sugar right after birth. A positive result on your GCT doesn't mean you have gestational diabetes, but it does mean that you'll need to take the glucose tolerance test "GTT" to find out for sure.

Finally, if you don't already know how to spot the signs of preterm labor, now's the time to learn. Contact your caregiver immediately if you notice any of the signs mentioned below.

More than 12 percent of babies in the United States are born prematurely "before 37 weeks". About a quarter of these births are intentional, meaning that the medical team decides to induce labor early or perform a C-section because of a serious medical condition such as severe or worsening preeclampsia or because the baby has stopped growing. The rest are known as spontaneous preterm births. You may end up having a spontaneous preterm birth if prior to 37 weeks you go into labor, your water breaks, or your cervix dilates with no contractions.

While there are some known risk factors for preterm labor, such as having certain genital tract infections, placental problems, or cervical insufficiency, in many cases no one knows what causes a woman to go into labor before term. So it's important for all pregnant women to learn the signs of premature labor and what to do if it happens to you.

Call your midwife or doctor right away if you're having any of the following symptoms before 37 weeks-
  • An increase in vaginal discharge
  • A change in the type of discharge ‚ if it becomes watery, mucus-like, or bloody "even if it's pink or just tinged with blood"
  • Any vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • Abdominal pain, menstrual-like cramping, or more than four contractions in one hour "even if they don't hurt".  An increase in pressure in the pelvic area-- "a feeling that your baby is pushing down".
  • Low back pain, especially if you didn't previously have back pain

Many of these symptoms can be confusing because some of them, such as pelvic pressure or low back pain, occur during normal pregnancies too, and early contractions may just be harmless Braxton Hicks contractions.  It's always better to be safe than sorry, so call your midwife or doctor right away if you're experiencing anything unusual.

You may be starting your prenatal classes soon and beginning to prepare your baby's room.  While you are running around trying to get everything done in time, don't forget  to eat well and get plenty of rest.

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