Fetal development in pregnancy week 32:
Your baby now weighs about 4.9 pounds and measures about 18.4 inches long. Your baby is fully developed at this point, but is growing and gaining weight now. Baby’s chances of survival outside of the womb are very good now, with only the lungs needing further development.
Baby is probably in the head down position now and the skull is soft so that baby can move down the birth canal during birth. Pressure from the baby being head down can make you have to urinate frequently.
The immune system is continuing to mature now and preparing to fight infections.
Because your baby is rapidly building up fat, little dimples are forming at the elbows and knees. Creases are forming around the wrists and neck. Bones are continuing to harden now and the waxy substance covering your baby’s skin, vernix, is thickening.
There are several prenatal tests that your health practitioner may recommend at this point. One that you need to ask for, if your doctor or midwife doesn’t suggest is, is the GBS (or Group B Step) test. This test screens for harmful bacteria that you can pass to the baby at birth.
By 34 weeks pregnant you might start feeling a bit uncomfortable and anxious to meet your tiny baby. Some women start feeling anxious about delivery around this time. Others worry that their baby may not be able to fit through the birth canal. Fortunately most babies have no difficulty fitting through their mother’s pelvis, even if your pelvis is small. If you do have concerns your healthcare provider can provide you with guidance to predict whether or not your baby is too big to fit through your pelvis. Usually this diagnosis is not bade until delivery though, as your doctor assesses how well your baby fits into your pelvis.
Petite women are just as capable of delivering large babies as larger women. Many petite women have delivered babies weighing in at eight pounds or more. So don’t panic just because you are small. You can do it!
The same is true of larger women. Some onlookers have an annoying habit of pointing out how large some women are growing. Just because you are large doesn’t mean you will have a 12 pound baby. Relax. Most babies know just how big to grow to fit through their mother’s birth canal.
Sometime after pregnancy week 34 you may notice that your baby drops lower in your belly. This is a process whereby your baby’s head enters the birth canal to prepare for delivery. For first time mothers this can happen a few weeks before delivery. For second or more time moms, this sometimes doesn’t happen until right before birth. You may notice this happens when your abdomen looks lower or when it suddenly becomes easier to breathe. Most women welcome dropping as a sign they are approaching delivery.
If you haven’t done it yet, consider doing a piece of art work that is related to your pregnancy. You can do a photo shoot, paint her belly or even do a belly cast. It’s a great way to spend time together as well as commemorate the pregnancy.
Want to know what many pregnant women find most comfortable to wear? Why, maternity tees of course! Maternity Tees and Shirts from Destination Maternity, provide all the comfort of ordinary tees with just a little extra room for expansion… something you will need during the next 9 months! Many maternity tees are specially designed with expectant mothers in mind. They may have cute logos that tell onlookers whether you are having a boy or girl (and even twins in some cases!) or other classy pictures. The majority of maternity tees come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. You can mix and match plain ones with more dramatic, colorful concoctions.
If you are considering wardrobe essentials during your pregnancy, don’t forget to add Maternity Tees from Motherhood Maternity to your list of must haves! Once you have a perfect maternity tee, you’ll find that you can’t live without it!
Pregnancy Health Tips
As your baby’s birth approaches, many women start wondering about whether or not they will need an episiotomy. Recent studies have suggested that while episiotomies are common, they are an unnecessary medical procedure that many new mothers endure at the time of delivery.
An episiotomy is an incision that your healthcare provider will make from the bottom of your vagina to the top of the rectum in an effort to avoid tearing during delivery. Many women experience tearing when the baby’s head passes through the birth canal.
Supporters of the procedure claim that it may help prevent unnecessary tearing and lacerations. However, there are many women who endure increased lacerations, complications, unnecessary pain, and even those that require reconstructive surgery after having an episiotomy. Many times, an episiotomy will result in a longer recovery period after delivery.
There are certain risks associated with having an episiotomy including:
- Increased risk of blood loss during delivery.
- Increased risk of infection.
- Weaker pelvic floor muscles after birth.
- Increased healing times.
- Loss of sexual sensation post delivery.
- Increased risk of a severe tear during birth.
In some instances, an episiotomy may be a life saving procedure. It can be medically necessary, particularly during times when the baby is in distress and needs to be delivered quickly.
Baby size doesn’t really have anything to do with the amount of tearing you might experience. How big your baby’s head is will actually determine whether or not you experience any tearing during delivery.
Is there anything you can do to avoid an episiotomy? Some women and healthcare providers encourage gentle stretching of the birth canal during labor and delivery. This is often referred to as a perineal massage. You can actually perform this massage in the weeks leading up to your birth.
Perineal massage is a form of exercise that can help prepare your body for labor. Many women begin massage in the five to six weeks leading up to delivery. Use of perineal massage may help reduce your risks for excessive tearing.
Many women choose to perform a perineal massage themselves, however, there is no reason your partner can’t help you. To perform a perineal massage you will need to do the following:
- Sit in a position that allows you to remain comfortable with your legs apart.
- Place some water soluble lubricant on your fingers and thumbs as well as the area between your vagina and anus.
- Next, you will place your thumbs into the vagina about half way. Spread your legs and press down firmly on the perineal area. Try pressing down and to the sides at the same time, so that you are stretching the area.
- Hold for a few minutes. You should feel some tingling.
- Massage the lower vaginal canal back and forth.
It is best that you ask your healthcare provider exactly how to perform a perineal massage if you are interested. It is often hard to visualize such activities without someone actually showing you how to perform them.
Ultimately, the best way to avoid tearing is through a slow decent and controlled delivery of the head. If you work with a qualified health practitioner, you have the best chance of delivering your baby with minimal damage to your vagina and surrounding areas. If you have concerns about tearing, talk with your healthcare provider. Typically, your healthcare provider will be able to alleviate some of your concerns and inform you of all your options prior to delivery.
As you look towards birth you may have the same questions any mom would have. A regular childbirth class is perfectly appropriate for you, but you might also want to find out if any of the hospitals in your area have a multiples class to give you a bit more information on what to expect for more than one baby. Epidural anesthesia can still be used in multiple births, just as unmedicated birth is still an option. Be sure to discuss your desires with your practitioner. Around this point you might have a better idea of the final positions of the baby, though it’s still possible for them to change, it’s less likely.