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Week #21 of Pregnancy

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Your Pregnancy: Week 21

By Erin Horner, edHelperBaby

Your Baby
           Your little one's digestive system is now functioning in simple ways.  Everyday he or she swallows amniotic fluid.  The majority of the swallowed fluid is absorbed, but that which is not absorbed is passed all the way to the large bowel.  This simple act of swallowing and processing fluid helps to prepare your little one's digestive system to fully function after birth.  Medical researchers also believe that the amniotic fluid swallowed by your baby may provide him or her with some essential nutrients as well as help to meet some of his or her caloric needs.

       While you can't yet hear your little one, her vocal cords are functioning and she will spend the next 18 weeks warming up her voice for those first few precious cries after birth.  By this stage in your pregnancy your little one is also quite coordinated.  Motions like pedaling and grasping are already in place.  It won't be long before your child is grabbing a water bottle and then pedaling off on her bike.  Your little one hasn't even been born yet, and already she's trying to grow up too quickly!  So enjoy this week, Mom.  Cherish each day and be thankful for the blessing growing with in you.


Your Body
           You are now beginning your fifth month of this amazing journey and are hopefully feeling great!  You have probably gained between ten and fifteen pounds by now, about half of what you should gain if you began your pregnancy at a healthy weight.  If you have already gained more than that, don't be too hard on yourself.  Every woman is different and every woman responds to pregnancy differently.  Do be careful, however, and try to make healthy food choices for your sake and the sake of your unborn baby.  If you haven't been keeping up with your exercise plan, there is no time like the present to jump back into it.  Moderate, daily exercise will not only help to control your weight but can also alleviate a myriad of unwanted pregnancy symptoms.       

       As your belly continues to grow you may notice that your belly button has taken on a whole new shape.  Is your "innie" now an "outie"?  Unlike the Thanksgiving turkey, your belly button doesn't pop out to let you know that your little one is done "cooking."  Don't worry, your belly button will return to normal once your sweet one arrives.  In the mean time, take advantage of your new navel and clean out any lint that may have been hiding deep inside!


  You're Wondering. . .
           With everyone talking about the importance of "going green" I'm starting to wonder whether or not I should use disposable diapers once my baby is born.  Cloth diapers seem so outdated and complicated, but I want to be environmentally responsible.  Can you help me settle my diaper dilemma?

       The great diaper debate is one that must be settled by each individual family.  As with all things in parenthood there is no one solution for everyone.  You are wise to begin thinking now about the types of diapers that you will use, as diaper changing will soon take up a lot of your time.  It is estimated that your little one will need 6,000 diaper changes by the time he or she is two!

       Cloth diapers have come along way from the bulky, ill-fitting cotton rectangles and diaper pins that you may be envisioning.  There are now hybrid diapers available.  These combine the best attributes of both disposable and cloth diapers.  The exterior is made of brightly colored cloth with a washable, water-proof liner that snaps into place.  Within the diaper you insert a re-fill that can be flushed, composted, or thrown away.  There are also "one-size-fits-all" washable diapers that are gaining popularity.  These pocket diapers have snaps that allow you to adjust the size to fit your newborn and then grow with your toddler.  This style also utilizes a washable insert or can be used with a rice-paper flushable insert for easier clean up.

       If you fear that these new washable diapers may be too difficult or are simply not for you, there are ways to use disposable diapers in a more eco-friendly manner.

       Before tossing your little one's disposable diaper:
  1. Check it out.   Before automatically changing your baby's diaper, check it out.   If her diaper is only a little wet, wait a while.  I promise she will wet it again!  By only changing your baby's diaper when it needs to be changed you will help both the environment and your wallet fare better.
  2. Flush it away.  Before tossing your baby's diaper, flush any poop down the toilet.  This way, harmful bacteria can be properly disposed of rather than sitting in a landfill.  This quick trick will also keep your diaper pail smelling better, too. (Notice I didn't say smelling good, just better!)
  3. Wrap it up.  When changing your little one, be sure to wrap her used diaper up tightly and seal it with the fastening tabs.  By making the diaper as small as possible before throwing it away you will be helping to ensure that it will take up as little room as possible in your local landfill.

       Here's a thought.  Why not try both?  Pick up one of the new eco-friendly diaper styles available and try it around the house while you are near extra clothes and the washing machine in case it doesn't work as well as you were hoping.  Then rely on disposables when you are out and about and don't want to lug dirty liners home with you to launder.       

       Ultimately, the choice is up to you.  Examine your options, do your research, and make the decision that best meets your needs and the needs of your family.  Trust me, by the time your little one is potty trained, you will be a "diaper expert" no matter which type you choose to use.


  Your "To-Do" List
           This is a wonderful week to begin your baby "wish list" or gift registry.  Find some time over the next few days, maybe even over your lunch break, and peruse the aisles of a local store that carries nursery décor, baby furniture, car seats, strollers, and all of the other fun things that you may want to have around once your little one arrives.  If this is your first child, consider asking a friend who is already a mom to go with you.  Her life experience will be invaluable as she can help you navigate through the endless aisles of goodies and help to steer you towards those things that you really need.  This trip will help you begin thinking about the different items that you would like to purchase, or better yet, receive as a gift!       

       If this is your first trip through the store, be sure to look not only at the style of different items, but also at the different manufacturers.  Before purchasing or registering for these baby products you may want to research the safety records and read some product reviews written by other moms about the ease of use, ability to clean the fabric, and other details.  Just because an item looks great in the store, doesn't mean that it necessarily is.   In the upcoming weeks, someone will probably offer to throw you a baby shower (especially if this is your first baby) and having a gift registry already created will aid your friends in finding something perfect for you and your sweet one!


Your Homework: Preparing For Parenthood
           Are you ready for some real practice this week?  Why not borrow a baby for a few hours?  If you have friends or family members with small children, particularly an infant, offer to babysit sometime this week.  Your friend will probably jump at the opportunity to have a few hours to spend by herself or to enjoy a dinner date with her partner, and you and your partner will have a chance to practice some of the many aspects of parenthood.


  My Experience
           While I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I volunteered to watch my nephew for an evening so that my brother and sister-in-law could enjoy an evening out together.  It was tons of fun, but I couldn't help but feel as though I was playing make-believe.  The evening helped us to realize just how much our lives were about to change.  This experience gave my husband a chance to learn how to change a diaper and feed a baby and it gave both of us a chance to get really excited about the upcoming birth of our own little one.


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