35 Weeks Pregnant: What’s That Ouch Down There?
Your baby isn’t ready to be born quite yet, but almost all of her systems are a go! She’s likely over 5 pounds now and measures around 18 inches. Now, she’ll slow down growing longer, but continue packing away the ounces and getting pudgier. Her big job heading up to her birthday is to put on weight (which means you will too.)
Her bones are getting stronger (turning the cartilaginous ends into harder calcium), but her knee caps haven’t formed, and her skull bones have not yet joined together. Because of these individual skull bones, your baby will actually be born with more bones than you have in your body.
Why is a baby born with multiple unfused skull bones? To make room for the growing brain! The size of a newborn’s head is about 75% of an adult head. And, by 2 years it will grow another 33% and almost reach adult size. (By 18-24 months the skull bones are permanently joined together.)
The skull is compressed, and the floating bones overlap during the birth process. This makes the head diameter ½ inch smaller to help babies squeeze through the birth canal.
Your newborn’s skull has two “soft spots” (also called fontanelles). These are like little lakes surrounded by touching islands of thin bone. There’s a 2” one in the front and a fingertip-sized one in the back near the crown of the head. Each is covered with a very tough, but flexible, membrane, so the brain underneath is perfectly protected. It’s as durable as bone, so don’t worry about touching it when you stroke your baby’s head or shampoo the hair.
35 Weeks Pregnant: About Your Body
If your normal walk has become a bit of a waddle, welcome to the club!
When your baby “drops” into your pelvis, movement becomes more difficult, and you may be finding it harder and harder to get comfortable when you’re sitting and even lying down. One of the best ways to find relief may be to immerse yourself in a bath, pool or the ocean to float the weight off your feet and joints.
Sudden, sharp pains deep in your vagina may be the next unwanted visitor to appear. Sometimes the pain is caused by the baby’s head pushing down right over a pelvic nerve—or it could be that your cervix has started dilating. Either way, it’s a sign that things are moving along nicely.
Braxton Hicks contractions are common from here on out. Researchers still don’t know what causes them, but many believe they’re your body gearing up for real labor. Important note: Braxton Hicks contractions don’t increase in intensity as time passes, don’t come at regular intervals and usually can be made better by moving around or drinking water. But, if in doubt, it’s always best to call up your doctor, just to check in….in case they are the beginning of the “real thing!”
Another unexpected symptom may be when a hand or arm starts hurting. The fluid you’re retaining can pinch a nerve in the wrist and cause carpal tunnel syndrome. This may require you to wear a splint and ice the area to give some relief until you give birth, when the pain goes away along with the excess fluid.
A To-Do List for Your 35th Week
Get diapers and wipes: Prepare to use these like they’re going out of style. Don’t buy too many newborn size diapers, though. Many babies grow so fast that before you know it you have to go up a size. Make sure to pack a few in your go bag just in case you need them coming home from the hospital or birth center.
Pamper yourself: Get a haircut, a manicure / pedicure or a prenatal massage. You deserve it!
Buy bottles: Even if you’re going to breastfeed, you still want to get just a few. Once the nursing is going well – usually at around 2-3 weeks – your health care provider will probably suggest you offer a bottle, every day or two, just so your baby learns how to take a rubber nipple. That’s when you’ll see if your baby likes the type of nipples you bought or if you need to test out a couple of other brands before you have a happy camper. Of course, if you are formula feeding, you will want to discuss your formula choice with your nurse practitioner or doctor.
Learn about newborn procedures: If you’re birthing in a hospital (about 98% of US women do), you’ve probably already brushed up on its labor and birth procedures. Don’t overlook the standard procedures that they’ll administer to your baby, though. These include a vitamin K shot, antibacterial eye ointment, suctioning the airways and a first bath. You should also inquire about how the hospital feels about delayed cord cutting, too.
Myth or Fact?
Pregnant women should prep their nipples for breastfeeding.
As if you don’t have enough to do right now! This one is thankfully false. There is no need to “toughen up” your nipples. Sore nipples are caused by incorrect latch-on or things like tongue tie.
Excessive nipple stimulation may actually provoke early labor. In fact, it’s one of the methods doctors and midwives often use to kick-start your labor, so leave ‘em alone for now! (But, DO immediately ask your healthcare provider for help if you have flat or inverted nipples!)
Quote of the Week
On the few occasions that my crying baby fell asleep before I did, I used the time for me! I soaked in a bubble bath, relaxed with a drink, read a book, and prayed that she would sleep a little longer. — Frances Wells Burck, Babysense