Your baby now measures about 17.8 inches (45 cm) from head to foot and weighs about 5.7 pounds (2.59 kg) at the start of the week—and around 6 pounds (2.76 kg) at the end of the week.
Your baby is now storing fat ahead of life outside the uterus. Your baby’s movements may change now, resulting in more prodding and poking. You might notice the shape of an elbow or heel —or even a whole foot!— against your belly.
Although your baby has less space, you should feel your baby’s movements several times a day. The nature of these movements may change, but their frequency won’t. A piece of advice: get to know your baby’s movement patterns. Doing so will make it easier for you to detect any changes. Trust your instincts as well! If you feel that something’s not right, contact your health care provider immediately.
Your baby has probably dropped into your pelvis by now or your baby’s head may still be moveable. Your midwife or doctor will check this at every prenatal visit toward the end of your pregnancy. Some babies do not position themselves until contractions begin or your water breaks.
If your baby is lying bottom first, in a breech presentation, you will be asked if you want to have an external cephalic version done at the hospital. The purpose is to get the baby to turn so he or she is positioned head first which, depending on the shape of your pelvis and your baby’s head, is designed to make giving birth easier. Generally speaking, it’s not a problem to give birth to a baby in a breech presentation, though it is more work for the baby to be born bottom first. For this reason, it might be necessary to decide to interrupt delivery and do a cesarean section.
If you decide you want to have an external cephalic version, this will be performed at the hospital. First you will be given medication to relax the uterus, which is a muscle. An obstetrician will try to turn your baby by pressing on your abdomen to coax your baby to do a forward somersault.
It is completely up to you whether you want to have an external cephalic version or not. About 50% of all such procedures succeed in turning the baby into a headfirst position.
If it is not possible, you will have to decide if you want a breech delivery. Certain criteria must be met, your pelvis will be x-rayed to check its size, and a growth ultrasound will be performed to assess your baby’s weight.
If your pelvis is large enough and if your baby does not weigh too much, combined with you being motivated to have a vaginal delivery, then your care provider can plan for a vaginal breech presentation. You will receive detailed information about this at your hospital or birth center. You can also ask your midwife or physician in order to learn more and make an informed choice.
If you do not meet the criteria, or if you feel that you do not want a vaginal delivery, a cesarean section will be scheduled instead.
You could have trouble sleeping and need to turn over frequently. You may be having powerful, vivid dreams since you’re processing a great deal before the birth and your new family. Continue to rest as often as you possibly can. These final weeks can feel particularly heavy and sluggish.
Preparing for the arrival of yet another family member by stocking the freezer with food can be soothing. Start asking friends and family to bring food when they come to see your baby the first time so you don’t have to care for several children, a newborn and cater all at the same time.
It’s generally a good idea to scale back on your expectations the first few weeks with a newborn, particularly when there are already several children in the family. They tend to become overactive when a new family member appears on the scene and all relationships have to be renegotiated. Sometimes it’s the oldest child who reacts the most and not the child closest in age to the baby. Give it time. Things will settle down, sooner or later!
Visits to the doctor are more frequent now than at the start of the pregnancy to check that both mother and baby are doing well. It’s also time to discuss your thoughts about the birth with your health care provider. For example, does the mother-to-be prefer to give birth in a certain position and what are your thoughts for pain relief? It’s important that you are involved in these decisions so that you can be your partner’s mouthpiece during the birth. After all, you’re probably the person who knows her best. A good way to start discussing these issues is to write a birth plan together.
And while you’re at it, take the chance to photograph her beautiful, round belly—it will be gone before you know it.