Your baby now measures about 12.5 inches (32 cm) from head to foot and weighs about 2 pounds (950 gr) at the start of the week—and about 2.3 pounds (1,075 gr) at the end of the week. A layer of vernix protects and nourishes the skin. Your baby’s skin is wrinkled but will become less so as more fat builds under the skin. The eyelashes are fully grown and the baby often sucks her thumb.
You’ve come a long way—your second trimester is almost at an end! The size of your belly depends on many factors—your baby’s growth, your build, height, weight and whether your body is swollen from fluid retention. Significant swelling over a period of just a few days could be the first sign of preeclampsia. Consult your midwife or physician if this happens. If you had preeclampsia last time, there’s a greater risk that you will have it this time too. In that case, your blood pressure will be carefully monitored.
An increase in swelling can also affect your hands and wrists, and some women develop a condition called carpal tunnel syndrome. This can cause numbness and tingling in your hands, particularly at night. Consult your midwife or physician if you have any problems. You may need to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist/physiotherapist to be issued with a special brace to wear at night. Occasionally, a simple operation is necessary. The symptoms go away after childbirth most often.
You should feel your baby moving many times a day. Do you occasionally feel tiny, rhythmic tickling sensations that are different from the kicks? If so, that is your baby having hiccups. It’s harmless and can occur for minute-long sessions several times a day.
Toward the end of your pregnancy, your uterus will hold up to one liter of amniotic fluid. That’s why water pours out when your water breaks. The amniotic fluid protects your baby from impact, keeps him or her warm (the amniotic fluid has the same temperature as you) and enables your baby to exercise his or her muscles and lungs. Your baby is practicing breathing inside your uterus! Amniotic fluid is sterile and contains elements of vernix that covers most of the baby’s skin. The baby drinks the amniotic fluid and then pees it out again. It’s a cycle.
Only about 15 % of all vaginal births start with a rupture of the fetal membrane (water breaking). Many describe it as something popping inside and then water starts to flow. Depending on how far down into the pelvis your baby’s head is, the water could come rushing or trickling out. If you start to leak a clear fluid now, contact your care provider.
Even if your first delivery started with your water breaking, there’s no evidence that it will this time. Most births start with contractions, however, and not with water breaking.
How will you get to and from the hospital? There is still some time to go, but if you’re planning to drive home after the birth you’ll need to arrange for infant car seat.
Some couples also decide to test drive the route to the hospital so that they’re as well prepared as possible when the time comes. A plastic bag in the car for the mother-to-be to sit on if her water has broken is a good idea.