You have reached a big milestone! At 24 weeks your baby is considered “viable”. This means that if your baby were to be born after this date, the likelihood of surviving is much higher than for a baby born before this date.
At this stage, it is normal for you to feel the baby move at least three to five times a day. Your baby is moving a lot more than that but, because the baby is still small, you may not feel every movement.
A screening blood test for gestational diabetes and anemia will be done at this appointment. This entails you drinking a sugar solution followed by a blood test one hour later. You do not need to fast for this test but do avoid eating a high-sugar meal before this visit. Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that begins during pregnancy and usually goes away after the birth of the baby.
If you have gestational diabetes, this means that you have a high amount of sugar in your blood. This form of diabetes can be controlled through diet, medication and exercise but, if left untreated, can cause health problems for you and your baby.
If you do not pass the one-hour test, you will need to follow a special high-carbohydrate diet for few days and then complete a three-hour sugar test fasting.
Mild anemia is very common during pregnancy. In the second trimester, your blood volume increases by 50% to help support your baby and your uterus. The blood volume increase is also a safeguard when you lose blood during labor and delivery. If you are not getting enough iron in your diet, your body might not be able to produce the amount of red blood cells needed to support this increase in your pregnancy, leaving you feeling fatigued and exhausted.
Iron is needed in larger doses, especially in the latter stages of pregnancy. This mineral is essential to the formation of healthy red blood cells. It is difficult for a woman to consume enough of it from food to maintain an adequate supply for herself. An iron supplement can alleviate this condition, but first discuss whether you need additional iron with your health care provider. During the second half of pregnancy, 30 to 60 milligrams of iron is recommended. Adding a vitamin C source will enhance the usable amount of iron.
Some women may experience constipation from increased iron intake. This can be alleviated by eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, cereals and eight glasses of water. Do not take iron with milk, antacids, or anything containing calcium, including prenatal vitamins. Calcium blocks the absorption of iron.
This is also a good time to start planning for your educational classes concerning breastfeeding, childbirth, newborn care and infant CPR. For most pregnant women, this is an overwhelming and joyful transition. Many women and their partners choose to attend educational classes to gather information and lessen their anxiety. Ask your healthcare provider for recommendations in your area.
The end of your second trimester is also a great time to start investigating your options for birth and further formulating your preferences with your practitioner. This is called a birth plan. A birth plan is a way to communicate in writing your preferences for matters like pain management and supportive measures in labor. Keep in mind that things don’t always go according to plan. You must be reasonably flexible in formulating your plan. Your health care provider must always consider the safety of you and your baby when incorporating your birth preferences in your medical care.
A birth plan should be a simple, clear, one-page document listing your preferences for the birth of your child. Check with your health care provider, hospital or birth center to see if they provide a birth plan worksheet. Many offer brochures to help explain their policies and philosophy concerning childbirth and to educate you on the options that you may have in labor.