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Week #20 of Pregnancy

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Your Pregnancy: Week 20

By Erin Horner, edHelperBaby

Your Baby
           This week your baby weighs approximately 10 1/2 ounces and when measured from head to toe is nearly 10 inches long.  That means that your little one is about as long as a banana while still weighing less than a can of soda.  Amazingly, his little body continues to develop in marvelous ways, despite his small size.  This week his skin, which began growing in 2 layers, has developed quite miraculously.  The epidermis, or surface layer of his skin, is now arranged in four layers.  One of these layers contains the epidermal ridges which simply put, will create your baby's fingerprints as well as the patterns on the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet.  This also marks the stage in your little one's life when he begins to secrete vernix, the white, pasty looking substance that will protect his skin and hair for the next 20 weeks.


Your Body
           Congratulations, mom!  You have hit the half-way mark of this miraculous journey.  If your baby decides to make his or her entrance before the magical due date, then you are more than half-way done with your pregnancy.  If this thought seems bitter sweet because you love being pregnant, don't worry, you still have twenty wonderful weeks left.  If this thought seems a bit daunting, because your pregnancy has been a bit challenging, take heart.  Reaching this marvelous week and recognizing that you are half-way finished should encourage you.

       Your uterus should now be measuring even with your belly button.  From this point on in your pregnancy, your uterus should be growing approximately 1/2 inch (or 1 centimeter) each week.  Your doctor has been measuring your uterus at each of your appointments as a way to help unobtrusively track the growth and development of your baby.  If your health care provider notices that your uterus is measuring a bit large, he or she may re-assess your due date based on the assumed growth of your baby.  Likewise, if your uterus is consistently measuring on the smaller side, your physician may request some further testing or ultrasounds to double check your baby's progress.


  You're Wondering. . .
           Now that I am half-way through with this pregnancy I am really starting to worry about labor and delivery.  I am anticipating all sorts of pain and I am so worried about it that I am having a hard time sleeping at night.  What should I do?

       First of all, turn off the TV and stop listening to the horror stories told by those around you.  It is very easy to get sucked into all of the dramatic labor and delivery shows on television.  As expecting moms, we tend to park ourselves on the couch and watch those women scream, yell at their partners, and work themselves into a complete sweat.  We grow up hearing stories of women who proudly wear a baby-bearing merit badge for a labor and delivery done solely on superwoman adrenaline.  Rather than assume the worst and spend countless late night hours convincing yourself that your labor experience will be utterly traumatic, put yourself in the mindset that labor and all that comes with it only indicates that you will be able to hold your baby very soon.  You are about to embark on something truly amazing, something you will never be able to fully express in words.  As time goes by and you try to recall the first time you held your baby in your arms it will most likely be with teary eyes, a distant gaze, and a wide, soft smile.

       Secondly, consider what exactly is keeping you from sleeping.  Is it that you are truly scared of the onset of labor pains, or that you are anticipating your baby's arrival and your mind is failing to shut down during those hours when you should be sleeping?  If you are worried about the pain, remember that there are several medications that will be made available to you during your labor and delivery experience, should you choose to use them.  I remember thinking that needing an epidural when delivering my children must mean that I was weak.  If my mom could give birth naturally, shouldn't I be able to as well?  It was then that my sweet obstetrician reminded me that no announcement would be made over the hospital PA system congratulating the exhausted woman in room 212 for pushing a baby the size of a watermelon out of a hole the size of a lemon, all without any pain relief.  In most cases, labor is hard, hence the name!  But it is not impossible nor is it unbearable.  It is however, unforgettable.  Know that from the start of labor until the very last push, everything you feel and experience is one moment closer to seeing the beauty that you have created within you, your baby!

       So with that said, find ways to help your mind and body unwind before crawling into bed.  Maybe a nice bath scented with some favorite bubbles.  Why not try some light reading or journal writing about the day?  Some women find that a cup of decaffeinated tea calms their spirits each evening.  Remember, rest is as important for your growing body as it is for your baby, so sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite...or for that matter, any fears about the future either.


  Your "To-Do" List
           In celebration of reaching the half-way mark of your pregnancy, why not treat yourself to something nice this week?  Peek at the list of ideas below, find one that suits you and allow yourself permission to indulge.  Growing your little miracle is a big job, and you deserve a little pregnancy present.  Think of it as baby's way of saying thank you for a job well done so far!

       How about . . .
  • A cozy new robe to wrap yourself in each morning
  • Some new pregnant pajamas highlighting your new shape
  • A pair of comfy slippers to wear at home now and in the hospital in a few months
  • A make-up make over at a local department store
  • A new fragrant candle that will lift your spirits and scent your home
  • A manicure or pedicure for your tired hands and feet.
  • A new maternity outfit for the next 20 weeks!


Your Homework: Preparing For Parenthood
           By this week in your pregnancy you probably have your "pregnancy radar" fully tuned and on at all times.  Do you notice pregnant women everywhere you go?  While at the beginning of this journey, you may have felt as though you were the only woman in your city with the secret glow, you may now be finding that mommies-to-be are waiting for you around every corner.  While it can be comforting to see others going through this journey with you, you may find that you are having a hard time not comparing yourself and your pregnancy to that of your friends or even strangers.  As you sit and visit with those around you and listen to their stories are you leaving the conversations wondering why you have gained more weight that your petite neighbor?  Or why the lady at the grocery store is feeling her baby kick so much more than you?  How about the fact that the professor down the street has already enrolled in a class designed to help her little one prepare for graduate school before she is even born.  Does that mean that you are a slacker parent who doesn't care about your child's academic future?

       Your homework assignment this week is to stop comparing yourself and your pregnancy  to anyone around you.  Write down ten things about your pregnancy that you have loved so far.  Do you secretly love the fact that your cheeks are a bit fuller than they used to be?  Great!  Write it down!  Did you some-what enjoy your bout with morning sickness because it was a daily reminder that yes, you were still pregnant?  Fantastic!  Write it down.  You may find that on your list you have written down things that no one else would find enjoyable.  That's OK!  It is your pregnancy and your experience.  Embrace it for all that it is and stop comparing yourself to those around you.       

       You will find that once your little one is born, it will become increasingly difficult to not compare your child to every other infant in town that was born in the same month.  If little Johnny begins babbling before your baby or little Susie rolls over first, you may become worried that something is wrong with your sweet one.  Remember, the medical experts label the different stages of a child's growth as developmental milestones, not developmental deadlines.  Each child matures at their own pace and they need caring and patient parents ready to embrace their growth with understanding, not constant comparisons and paranoia.  So begin helping your little one now by vowing to stop the comparison game.  By loving yourself for the wonderful woman that you are and by celebrating all that is unique about your pregnancy, you will find that you have inadvertently become prepared to offer a lifetime of love and acceptance to your unique and precious little one as well.  Who, by the way, will do several things better and earlier than little Johnny and Susie and will probably be cuter too!  Not that you will be comparing them, though.


  My Experience
           I was pregnant with my first born child, a little girl, at the exact same time that my sister-in-law, Lynda, was pregnant with her second born child, who is also a girl.  We were not only pregnant at the same time, we had the exact same due date, and no, and we did not plan it that way!  While I loved being pregnant together, I sometimes felt inadequate and insecure because I felt as though my sister-in-law was the expert at all that was occurring within her body while I was still fumbling around trying to figure everything out.  I obviously didn't have edHelperBaby as a resource back then!  All of my insecurities and comparison issues were completely self-imposed, as my gracious sister-in-law never would have tried to make me feel less than adequate as a future mommy. Lynda and I enjoyed shopping for maternity clothes and nursery décor together and talking about how our girls were going to grow up as the best of friends.  Once we delivered our girls, two and a half weeks apart, I learned that while we journeyed through pregnancy together, our births, child-rearing experiences, and daughters' personalities were completely opposite of one another.  My water broke at 37 weeks and a quick six hours later my little girl was in my arms.  She was induced a day before her due date and spent nearly 12 hours in labor waiting for my sweet niece to arrive.  My little girl weighed 7 pounds and 7 ounces.  Her daughter weighed 5 pounds.  I chose to breastfeed exclusively and she chose to use only formula. I wasted so much time and energy trying to be just like her for forty weeks, only to find that my Kilee and her Ryleigh (yep, they rhyme!) couldn't be more different and therefore need two different kinds of mommies. Now instead of comparing myself to my sister-in-law or any other mommy friend, I have learned how to glean wisdom from their experiences, and then try out some of their parenting tricks with my own little ones.  I have also found that in embracing my uniqueness and celebrating all that makes me who I am, I am able to joyfully embrace the uniqueness of my two children and celebrate all that they are while excitedly looking ahead towards all that they will one day be!


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