Photo: Mandy Milks, Erik Putz, Anthony Swaneveld. Felt: thefeltstore.com
Your little guy is an average of 38 centimetres (14.8 inches) long and 998 grams (2.2 pounds), or roughly the size of a plate of pancakes. At 28 weeks pregnant, your baby will now start to pack on some serious weight: about 454 grams (one pound) every two weeks. All that baby weight will fill out those chubby cheeks but also act as padding for his organs and help regulate his body temperature after birth. Soon, he’ll be turning face down to get in position for his big exit. Bet you’re dreaming about what life will be like when your little guy gets here. Guess what? He could be dreaming about it, too! Baby is now capable of REM sleep, the stage where dreaming occurs.
Welcome to the third trimester! You might feel like your belly is ready to burst, but believe it or not, you and your baby still have some important growing to do. Now that you’re in the home stretch (does that word feel too literal right now?), you’ll probably be seeing your midwife or OB-GYN every two weeks to keep close tabs on things until your baby arrives.
Sciatica Remember when you thought your bump was “cute” and couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about? Pregnancy seemed pretty manageable during the second trimester, but as you enter the third trimester, you might have a different perspective on things—an uncomfortable or even painful one. A common source of discomfort at this stage is sciatic nerve pain. This occurs when the weight of your baby and uterus rest on the sciatic nerve in the lower part of your spine, putting extra pressure on the nerve and causing a shooting pain, tingling or numbness that starts in your buttocks and radiates down the back of your legs. (Other contributing factors? Weight gain, increased fluid retention and the baby’s head actually sitting on the nerve.) The pain can be intense but may pass as your baby moves around or, in more serious cases, it can linger until delivery. A hot water bottle, a warm bath, rest and stretching can help you get some relief. You may want to ask about working from home if it’s an option for you.
Shortness of breath
If you feel like you’ve just run up a flight of stairs when all you’ve done is walk down the hall, don’t worry: It’s normal to feel a bit winded during pregnancy. Shortness of breath is partially due to an increase in the pregnancy hormone progesterone, which tells your brain that you need to take in more air—enough for two! This can prompt deeper, more frequent breaths in an effort to get extra oxygen to your baby. Plus, by the third trimester, the weight of your uterus on your diaphragm can make breathing feel more laboured. To help you catch your breath, slow down, especially when exercising, and pay attention to your posture (standing up straight creates more room for your lungs to take in air). Call your practitioner if your shortness of breath seems severe, you have chest pain or your lips or fingertips take on a bluish tinge.
Preparing your pooch Welcoming a baby into the family is a big step for you—and your dog. Fido will likely know that something is up by now, based on the change in your scent and the shift in your behaviour. (All of that nesting!)
Now is the time to check in with a dog trainer about any serious behavioural problems, such as jumping, barking and aggression. It’s also a good idea to prepare for the first few weeks postpartum. Stock up on dog food and treats and consider hiring a dog walker or enlisting a friend to do the strolls for you for the first week, at least while you rest up. If your pooch hasn’t been around kids much, you can help acclimatize your dog by going on a few outings with a mom friend. A little practice with walking your dog on a leash with a stroller (if you’ve got yours already) will be good for both of you.
When it’s time to bring your baby home, introduce the newest family member slowly by sending home a swaddle blanket or cloth with your baby’s scent in advance. This will help your dog get used to the new little person before he comes through the door. Make the introduction slowly, and be prepared for many sweet moments ahead: You may be surprised by how easily your pup adopts the new baby as a member of her pack.
Is your partner as interested in learning about childbirth and labour pain-management techniques as you are? You can send him a few links and articles from partners who have been there, done that and have great advice to share. Or check out this video with some of the hilarious (and sometimes appalling) things that celebrity dads have done in the delivery room.
There are many moments in a parent’s life when you wish you could outsource a task to someone else (diaper blowouts, for one). This entrepreneurial teenager has earned tens of thousands of dollars from charging her clients for her baby-naming assistance.
Buy a car seat Sure, it’s fun to buy little baby booties and nursery accessories, but the car seat should really be at the top of your shopping list. (Some hospitals won’t even let you leave without one—even if you don’t own a car!) There are a lot to choose from, but you just need an infant rear-facing seat (also known as a bucket seat) that’s Transport Canada-approved for now. It should work for the first six to 12 months, depending on how fast your baby grows. Buy it new—not used—if you can (since you have no guarantee that it hasn’t been in a collision), and follow the installation instructions carefully. Some stores even hold workshops with a certified instructor or trainer to help you install that car seat correctly (It isn’t easy!). You may need an adapter to work with your stroller frame, but skip accessories like liners and comfort strap covers unless they come with the seat because they aren’t safety tested for compatibility. You could even practise using the car seat (the straps and buckles can be confusing!) with a teddy bear or baby doll. (Not a bad idea for practising those babywearing techniques either.)