Photo: Mandy Milks, Erik Putz, Anthony Swaneveld. Felt: thefeltstore.com
By 24 weeks pregnant, your baby will be roughly the size of a burrito. Although she is still tiny—about 30 centimetres (12 inches) long and weighing roughly 590 grams (1.3 pounds)—her features are almost fully formed. Your baby now has very fine eyelashes and eyebrows and the start of a head of hair. She can make out all kinds of sounds: your breathing, your voice, the dog barking or loud sounds like car horns. Her capillaries are also starting to form this week, which means that her skin is becoming less translucent and more opaque as blood circulates and adds more of a pinkish undertone to her complexion.
Leg cramps Achy legs are a common symptom at this point in your pregnancy and usually nothing more than a sign of dehydration. Occasionally, though, they can signal another issue, like a nutritional deficiency, so be sure to mention it to your practitioner just to be safe. Meanwhile, make sure that you’re downing lots of water, keep moving and stretch often.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
If you’re experiencing an uncomfortable tingling and/or numbness in your wrists and fingers, it might be carpal tunnel syndrome. Repetitive motions, such as typing, are usually to blame, but carpal tunnel syndrome in pregnant women is often due to an accumulation of fluids in your hands and wrists. When you lie down, this can put pressure on the nerve that runs through your wrist and cause numbness, tingling and mild pain in your wrist, hand and fingers. Prop your hands up on pillows at night, stretch them often during the day (especially if you work at a computer) and don’t fret: Like most annoying pregnancy symptoms, it will fade once your baby arrives.
Glucose screening test At about 24 weeks, your practitioner may start discussing a screening test for gestational diabetes. It’s not mandatory, but many moms-to-be will take it as a precaution. Gestational diabetes occurs when a woman’s pancreas isn’t able to produce the extra insulin needed to keep blood glucose levels in check during pregnancy, increasing the risk of preterm labour and conditions like pre-eclampsia, as well as the odds of having a very large baby (which may require intervention, like a C-section). The aim of the test is to measure how your body processes sugar, so you’ll be asked to drink a super-sweet liquid that they provide, wait around for about an hour and have your blood drawn and screened. If the results are abnormal, more testing will be ordered to determine if you have gestational diabetes (which can then be managed to ensure that you continue to have a healthy pregnancy). Many moms consider chugging the gross orange drink a pregnancy milestone of sorts, so just think of it as an opportunity for a fun Facebook pic from the waiting room.
Should I get an epidural?
You’re probably thinking more and more about what kind of birth you want to have, and at the top of the list is whether or not to have an epidural. Even if you don’t have an opinion yet, lots of people will offer theirs unsolicited (and overshare some of their own TMI labour details!). Knowing the facts about epidurals will help you make an informed decision quickly when you go into labour.
So you’re pregnant? Congratulations! Me, too. Gestating a baby also means nine months of bizarre advice from strangers (“Don’t take a bus seat over a wheel—the bouncing will cause a miscarriage”), inexplicable restrictions on your diet (I miss you, cantaloupe) and all the hormone-driven worry you can handle. In case you’re still coping a little too well, the Internet is here to remind you that, no matter how prepared you are, it has solutions to problems you didn’t even know you had. Six “WTF” inventions, after the jump.
It’s never too early to start preparing your little Nobel Prize winner-to-be. Enter the BabyPlus Prenatal Education System. Budding tiger moms can start forcing their babies’ brains to develop from 18 weeks gestation with twice-daily, through-the-belly lessons developed “with a solid understanding of earliest neuroscience.” Strap on the fuzzy fanny pack and let the BabyPlus player provide your wee Einstein with the “very sounds of a child’s natural prenatal auditory environment, the maternal heartbeat”—which, if you think about it, your kiddo should already be hearing because she is inside you and you have a heartbeat (no fanny pack required). $145, amazon.com
You’re committed to shaving your legs up to week 40, but you can no longer reach that tricky spot just behind your ankle bone. Keep calm and get a Giraffe Razor Extension Handle to help you go-go-gadget your razor to the farthest reaches of your lower limbs. Or, you know, just treat yourself to a professional salon wax. (Another perfectly acceptable solution is to simply be at peace with temporarily furry ankles—it’s not like you can see them anyway.) $30, amazon.ca
Are you desperate to experience the searing burn of crowning before you squeeze an infant out of your birth canal? Thanks to the Epi-No Delphine Plus, you can feel the burn (repeatedly) well before giving birth while toning your pelvic floor. Just insert the silicone balloon so that it’s half in and half out of your vagina. Gradually inflate the balloon with the air pump and hose—remember to check the pressure gauge frequently—and wince. In all seriousness, taking care of your pelvic floor is important: Doing regular sets of Kegels can help prevent uterine prolapse and incontinence, and pre-birth perineal massage can minimize tearing and episiotomies. Fortunately, these techniques are free and don’t require spending significant amounts of your precious free time with equipment that looks like a bike pump positioned inside a body orifice. $197, pelviennewellness.com
Scientific studies show that babies in utero respond to music. And while you can strap speakers to your bump or sing in your baby’s general direction, how do you know that your little bundle is really getting all the nuances of Bey’s latest single? Try Babypod, the only “scientifically guaranteed” speaker for your vag. The system is, of course, controlled by a smartphone app, and the volume is capped at 54 decibels to be safe for tiny ears. Best of all, the vibrating sound waves are perfectly safe for mom and baby. According to the Babypod site, “That’s why sex toys are allowed during pregnancy.” So break out the Mozart because “Rock Me Amadeus” just took on a whole new meaning. $194, babypod.net
Used a radio, TV, smartphone or microwave oven while pregnant? Are you reading this on a WiFi network or near power lines? Congratulations, you’ve exposed yourself and your fetus to harmless non-ionizing radiation. If you’re not a fan of science—or recommendations by the World Health Organization, for that matter—feel free to shell out 100 bucks for this radiation-proof blanket. Essentially, it’s the preggo equivalent of a tinfoil hat. $100, indigo.ca
After giving a urine sample at every prenatal appointment, you’ve probably peed on your hands more in the past few months than in the rest of your life combined. If you’re such a delicate flower that touching a few drops of your own urine is too much for you, pony up US$7.50 (plus shipping and taxes) and get yourself We Collect. This specialized pee-collection spoon has a long handle and a spouted urine cup so that you can keep your hands far from the offending stream. You’re sure to look back fondly on the time and money you spent trying to avoid your own pee when your baby fires a golden spray all over your torso as you change his diaper. $9, mumstuff.com
Here’s our ultimate list of the most recent and most popular Canadian baby names, broken down by province.
Read some birth stories If you’re the kind of person who likes to be prepared for all scenarios, childbirth can be a tricky one. It’s a test you can’t exactly study for. You can diligently attend prenatal classes, research away and read every labour book out there, but you may feel most reassured by reading about other women’s experiences. (Bonus: They’re usually less graphic than the crotch-shot videos in your prenatal class.) From planned C-sections and drug-free VBAC births (that acronym stands for “vaginal birth after C-section,” by the way) to ridiculously fast "precipitous" births to midwife-attended births with unexpected emergency interventions, everyone has a very different experience.