25 Weeks Pregnant: Breathing for Two
Eyes, nose, fingers and toes: By week 25, they’re all formed!
Your baby’s fingernails and toenails are growing—don’t be surprised if they’re long when she’s born. Most baby health and grooming kits include tiny nail clippers and files, and some parents put tiny mittens on their baby’s hands so they don’t scratch their face.
Your little one is working hard to get her lungs ready for birth, too. They’re just starting to produce surfactant. That’s a substance that coats each individual tiny air sac in the lungs. Once your baby takes her first breath, each sac will fill with air—like a little balloon. The surfactant is critically important to keeping the balloon from totally collapsing when she exhales.
Her eyes are also getting ready for the big day. In the next 30-60 days, all the layers of her retina—the inside lining of the eye—will be in place. That gives the fetus and newborn the ability to see. However, for the first couple of months babies are super-nearsighted (they only see well when you get your face 12-18 inches away). (She will love looking at red and black and white objects, but won’t be able to see well in color until after three months!)
25 Weeks Pregnant: S’Up With Your Bod?
If you can’t quite catch your breath these days, join the club. Breathlessness strikes for a few reasons. The bigger your uterus grows, the more it presses up, crowding out your lungs. That means they can’t expand quite as far as they used to, so even deep breaths feel shallow. Free up a little more space in your chest by raising your arms above your head and stretching. Remember, you’re breathing for two these days. There’s more carbon dioxide in your blood, forcing you to breathe more quickly than usual.
You may also start feeling the side effects of relaxin. That’s a hormone your body makes to soften and—well, relax—your ligaments, muscles and joints. You will LOVE this hormone when it comes to labor as it lets your pelvic bones widen a bit to make more room for the baby to come out. But, for now, relaxin may cause weird aches and pains in your pelvis. A few women (around 2%) complain of discomfort in the front part of the pelvis, called symphysis pubis dysfunction or SPD. This is when your super-relaxed pelvic joints twist apart a little. The good news is that this will go away after birth, but in the meantime, your doctor or midwife might recommend a brace or pelvic support belt to keep you stabilized, along with pain medication and exercises to strengthen your core.
If you are having pelvic pain, make sure to sit down when you can, and try to cut back on chores and carrying things. A pillow between your knees when you are sleeping can help, too. If your pain is mild, try swimming: The water will take the pressure off your joints, and will help your circulation.
The cocktail of hormones that helps your muscles relax and your body prepare for birth also affects your digestion. Constipation is a recurring pregnancy problem, and all the iron supplements you are probably taking right now to prevent anemia don’t help get things going.
Most of the recommendations for easing constipation during pregnancy are the ones you’d hear when you aren’t pregnant: Drink a lot of water, eat foods high in fiber and exercise every day. Ask your health care provider is s/he wants you to take any natural supplements. Probiotics or juice (like, aloe vera, cherry or prune) may help, as can magnesium, taken right before bed. Strong laxatives are not recommended during pregnancy (they can cause dehydration, electrolyte imbalances or undue stimulation of the uterus).
A Pregnancy To-Do List for Your 25th Week
- Find out the standard protocols at your place of birth: If you are giving birth in a hospital, do they require continuous fetal monitoring and an IV? Will you be allowed to labor in water? How many cervical checks will be performed? Will you be able to eat and drink? Walk around? This information is crucial to the development of your birth plan and may even cause you to change your place of birth. Will a pediatrician be in attendance or nearby in case of an emergency?
- Learn about pain management options: If you are giving birth in a hospital, find out what sort of pain management they provide. If you would like to give birth without pain medication, communicate that to your caregivers. There are ways to manage (but not eliminate) pain during labor, such as changing positions, counter pressure, laboring in a shower or tub and doing breathing exercises.
- Elevate your feet and legs: The more you stand and walk, the more your legs, feet and ankles will swell. That’s because you have as much as 50% more blood circulating through your veins (and because you are carrying a gigantic boulder around!). In addition to resting your legs and feet, invest in comfortable, non-binding clothes and walkable shoes.
- Get your car inspected: Car safety doesn’t stop with the car seat. Make sure your car has its annual inspection to check the tires, fluid levels, brakes, seat belts and more.
Quote of the Week
The phrase ‘working mother’ is redundant. – Jane Sellman