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Week #17 of Pregnancy

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Your Pregnancy: Week 17

By Erin Horner, edHelperBaby

Your Baby
           Your little one has been busy this week!  In the last two weeks he has doubled his body weight and now weighs 7 ounces.  His placenta is also growing at an incredible rate.  It is now well established with a large amount of blood vessels and a huge surface area.  These blood vessels allow your baby to be nourished and remove any unused waste.  This week your baby's major task at hand will be to begin depositing brown fat.  This special type of fat will help your little one generate heat later on in his life.


Your Body
           Your pregnant belly is beginning to show more and more, and by this week in your pregnancy your partner or friends may be starting to notice that your "hello" hugs feel a bit different thanks to your cute little bump.

       Your cardiovascular system has undergone some pretty dramatic changes throughout the past 17 weeks as well. Your heart has increased its daily output by about 40 percent to meet the demands of your baby and the growing placenta that is nourishing her.  This increase in blood volume can put extra pressure on some of your small blood vessels, such as the capillaries in your nose and gums.  You may, therefore, begin to experience occasional nose bleeds or the "pink toothbrush syndrome" caused by your bleeding gums.  If your symptoms become too frequent or bothersome, be sure to speak to your health care provider.

       From this point on in your pregnancy, lying on your back is no longer a good idea as it can compress the inferior vena cava, the vein that is responsible for transporting blood from your heart to your lower body.  Inadvertently compressing this vein can decrease your blood pressure and cause you discomfort.  Lying flat on your back also puts the full weight of your belly on your spine and back muscles as well as your intestines.  This can lead to a myriad of unwanted side-effects such as hemorrhoids, indigestion, and backache.  When you do find a few moments to lie down, be sure to lie on your side, and preferably your left side.  This position is regarded as the best one for you and for your baby for several reasons.

       Lying on your left:
  • Improves the flow of blood and nutrients to your placenta
  • Helps your kidneys more efficiently process waste products and eliminate them from your body
  • Reduces swelling in your hands, ankles and feet

       If you have always slept on your back or belly and find that it is hard to adjust to sleeping on your left side, be patient.  It will take a while for your body to get used to this new position, just as it has taken your body a while to get used to all that is occurring within it during your pregnancy.  Some pregnant women find that a large body pillow placed between their knees and under their belly provides enough back support and cozy comfort that sleeping on their left side is not only easy, but dreamy!  So give it a try, Mom!  Lay on your left, prop your belly up with a pillow, and dream away.


  You're Wondering. . .
           Is it still safe for my partner and I to have sex?  I'm worried that having intercourse might somehow hurt my baby.

       This is a question that many women wonder about during their pregnancy.  During your first trimester the combination of nausea, sore breasts and exhaustion may have left sexual intimacy pretty low on you weekly "to-do" list.  Now that you are in the "glory" months of your pregnancy, however, your sudden increase in energy and newly developed curves may be bringing with it an unexpected surge in the intimacy department for both you and your partner.  Rest assured that unless your health care provider has specifically advised against sexual intercourse, it is usually safe to continue having relations.  If, on the other hand, you have been experiencing any unexplained bleeding, contractions, have been diagnosed with placenta previa, or an incompetent cervix, vaginal intercourse may be out of the question.

       While you are probably not yet feeling too big or bulky, you may need to be more creative in your love making than you had to be in the past. As you think through the "how-to's" use your imagination and keep in mind that you need to avoid any position that would have you lying flat on your back for a long period of time.  Remember also that one of the goals of sexual intimacy is the intimacy part, and that can be achieved in a variety of ways. If you are uninterested in intercourse or still too worried that it might be harmful for your baby, try and find some other creative ways to connect intimately with your partner. Why not cuddle, give each other massages, or enjoy a lot of kissing like you did when you were teenagers!  Be creative and enjoy your time together.


  Your "To-Do" List
           This week top your to-do list with this assignment: conquer the clutter.  Use any free time you can find this week to take control of any paper piles, crazy closets, or bottomless baskets that have made their way into your home.  This will not only help you to feel better as you re-organize some of the areas of your home, but will also help you practically prepare for the upcoming arrival of your little one.  Your sweet little baby is going to need a lot of diapers, clothes and goodies and each of these baby necessities needs a place to be stored.  Clean out the closet now, and when you finish, go shopping for an outfit for your baby to hang up in the newly cleared space to celebrate.


Your Homework: Preparing For Parenthood
           As you continue to prepare yourself for parenthood, take some time this week and practice the power of being positive.  Believe it or not, there will be several times throughout the upcoming years of your parenthood journey that will be a bit challenging.  Someone once said that we should have known that parenting wasn't going to be easy when it started out with something called "labor."  I, however, prefer to think of the positives of parenthood and remember that my motherhood journey actually began with a kiss!  The rest, as they say, is history!

       When faced with a trying situation this week, try and look at all of the positive aspects of it and then, if necessary say those positive points out loud.  This will help you readjust your perspective and solve any pending dilemmas a bit more positively.  For example, when I was teaching full time I used to greet my students every Monday morning by standing at the door and telling them how much I had missed them all weekend.  It was a bit of a stretch, but I was trying to look for something positive about the early start of another work week.  Do you know what I found?  After seeing several of their cute faces, greeting them with a wink and a smile, and hearing about their weekend adventures, I realized that I had missed them throughout the weekend.  Not enough to petition the school board for a seven day school week, but I had missed their energy, their innocence, and their joy.  By focusing on the positive of a brand new week together, rather than on the same-old, same-old of our daily routine, I was able to create an environment that all 26 of my kiddos and I enjoyed.  You will find that the same is true for your home and family life.  As a parent, you will have the very real power to create whatever type of environment you desire for your children and partner.  Take the time now to practice the power of being positive and when your little one arrives you will have already mastered one of your super-mom skills.  You will not only be faster than a speeding bullet (when it comes to changing diapers), more powerful than a locomotive (who else can balance a 5- pound baby carrier with an 8- pound baby buckled- up inside of it, while toting a 3-pound diaper bag slung over their shoulder?), and be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound (at least a tall building made of Legos), but you will be able to do it all with a smile!


  My Experience
           This is something that I have tried to be very intentional about doing with my family.  Before having children, I was often described as an eternal optimist.  I could see the silver lining on any cloud, even if that cloud was the eye of a hurricane.  As a parent, though, I've realized that being perpetually perky isn't always possible! What I have learned, however, is that even when everything in my exhausted body is crying out for 15 more minutes of sleep, nothing in my life is made better when I whine and complain about it. When the sound of my little ones starting to stir causes me to open my eyes and realize that the sun has still yet to receive the "Good Morning" memo, I will go in and greet my children with, "Oh, yay!  You're awake!  I am so glad that we get to start a new day together.  I really miss you when you are sleeping!"  While initially hard to believe, I find that within a few minutes of snuggling on the couch and playing with their hair, I am excited to start a new day together.  I may still be exhausted, but I am looking forward to experiencing all that the new day will have in store for us.

       I am not suggesting that I am a doormat where everyone else's needs in my family always come before my own and I just grin and bear all of our life situations with a false smile plastered across my face.  Rather, I have come to the frightening conclusion that as a mother I am not only very important but have found that I hold most of the power in our family.   When I choose to check my attitude before interacting with my children and husband, everything in our family life is more enjoyable. Talk about a super-power!   I have found that I need to draw on this super-mom strength on those occasional afternoons when I am feeling too exhausted to make it until bedtime, where every last ounce of my energy, creativity and joy has been zapped, and my youngest refuses to take a nap.  On these days I figure I have two choices.  I can scream, yell, become extra grumpy and say a bunch of things that I will most definitely regret or I can calmly walk into his room, remind him that it is time to "rest or read" silently in his bed and then tell him that I will be so excited to see him when he gets up.  I tell him that I'll be counting the minutes until his rest time is over and we can once again play. I do all of this with a silly grin and overly dramatic hand gestures.  I'm sure that I look so goofy that he can't help but smile and while this purposefully positive approach may sound hokey, you know what?  It works!   Trust me; I've tried it both ways.  When I approach him with a positive attitude, it becomes contagious and rather than ranting and raving, my three-year-old will respond with "Okay mom, I'll be counting the minutes too and then I'll tell you all about the books I read and any dreams I have!"  I then close the door, thankful that I was able to keep my attitude in check and even more thankful that within minutes his eyes will be shut, so that mine can soon be as well.  Even if I can only close them for 15 minutes, I'll remember the power of being positive and remind myself that 15 minutes of rest and relaxation is at least better than ten, and a lot better than none!



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