Check out what happened with your baby's development last week.
Story time. "My favorite sound is my mother's voice when she sings or talks to me." Now that bones in her ears have hardened, your baby can hear you and prefers your voice to any other sound. Give her a daily treat by reading, talking, or singing to her. If you feel silly reading to your belly, remember that the more your baby hears your voice, the more familiar it will be to her when she's born.
Super sac. The amniotic fluid that surrounds your baby is the perfect place for her to grow into a healthy newborn. The salty fluid keeps her warm, protects her from infections, and is buoyant enough for her to exercise her developing body. Right now the amniotic sac contains about a pint of fluid, which is refreshed every three to four hours.
Measuring up. Your baby looks like a tiny, thin newborn. She now weighs close to 1 pound and measures 9 to 10 inches, about the length of a Barbie doll.
Back to school. If you haven't already signed up for a childbirth education course, now is the time to register, as classes can fill up quickly. Most programs are designed to start with the 32nd week of pregnancy. It's a good idea to sign up for a course that ends at least a few weeks before your due date, in case your little one decides to make an early appearance. To learn what to look for in a good childbirth education course, click here.
Got iron? Make sure you're getting enough iron. Iron is necessary for the production of red blood cells, which help to circulate oxygen for you and your baby. Many women are slightly anemic before they get pregnant, and 20 percent of women are treated for iron-deficiency anemia during pregnancy. Symptoms of anemia (which may be subtle) include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and fainting spells. To treat iron-deficiency anemia, start by getting more iron in your diet. Everyone knows that liver contains iron; other iron-rich foods include red meat, blackstrap molasses, lentils, and leafy greens like spinach and collard greens. Most women will also need to take supplemental iron, which is usually given as part of a prenatal vitamin.
Preeclampsia check. It's important that your health care provider monitor your blood pressure at each prenatal visit. Blood pressure is normally a bit higher during pregnancy because of expanded blood volume and the strength of your heart's contractions. If your blood pressure is too high, though, your doctor may keep an eye out for preeclampsia, a complication of pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure, edema (swelling), and protein in the urine. It affects about 7 percent of pregnant women. Preeclampsia is treatable, especially if it's caught early. And diagnosing it early is crucial: In severe cases preeclampsia can cause decreased blood flow to your placenta and, consequently, to your baby. If you notice any symptoms of preeclampsia, including blurred vision, headaches, or sudden swelling in your feet and hands, called your health care provider immediately.
From the experts. Now that you're starting to show, you may become concerned if your growing tummy gets bumped. "The uterus and amniotic sac provide a wonderful cushion for your fetus," says Margaret Comerford Freda, Ed.D., R.N. "But if you're concerned, it's always best to check with your provider." For more reassurance from Dr. Freda, click here.