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Week #26 of Pregnancy

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Your Pregnancy Week 26

By Erin Horner, edHelperBaby

Your Baby
           This week your little one is beginning to open his or her eyes.  While she can not yet see, her eyelids, which have previously been fused together, are now beginning to blink. Your little one is also starting to shake her head back and forth.  This warm up will prepare her for the years ahead when she will adamantly non-verbally communicate that yes she wants dessert, but no she does not want to eat her peas first!  Her heart is also continuing to develop and strengthen.  Your friends and family may now be able to hear her heartbeat simply by placing their ear on your belly.  Don't be alarmed, however if they can't hear her heartbeat on their own.  Many women go through their entire pregnancy without ever hearing their baby's heartbeat without the assistance of their doctor's Doppler machine.  Whether you are listening to your sweet one's heartbeat at home or in your caregiver's office, you can be assured that each beat is declaring the same sentiment . . . "I love you, mom! I love you, mom! I love you, mom!" and before long you will not only hear your baby's heart beat, but feel it as you snuggle her up on your chest and whisper in response, "I love you, too!"


Your Body
           Are you feeling stressed this week?  If so, there's a chance your baby may be feeling it too.  Recent research studies have found that when a pregnant woman experiences stress her heart rate and blood pressure rise.  When the studied women were recovering from their stressful situations and their heart rates were decreasing, doctors noticed that it was then that the hearts of the babies being studied began to race.  This study has shown that while your little one is deeply insulated within your womb with his own blood supply, your stress level may still affect him.  It may take a while for your stress to reach your baby, but its negative side-effects are still present.  Prolonged stress can lead to a premature birth or a low birth weight for your little one.  If your anxiety is severe, it could also be passed on to your baby and establish a tendency for stress in your in your child.  So the old saying, "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" might just have some scientific research to validate it.  While life is at times full of many stress-inducing situations, try as best you can to stay stress free.  And while this is easier said than done, your body and your baby will thank you for it!


"You're Wondering. . ."
           What is exactly is preeclamsia?  I know that it has something to do with swelling and sometimes at the end of the day I notice that my feet are swollen.  Should I be worried?

       Preeclampsia is a medical condition that affects approximately 5-8% of pregnant and post-partum women. It is characterized by an increase in blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine.  This helps to explain the necessary evil of filling the little urine cup at each doctor's visit.  Your physician has been, and will continue to check the protein levels in your urine and your blood pressure at each visit to help ensure your health and safety.  While it usually does not occur until after the 20th week of pregnancy, preeclampsia can occur earlier as well.  While some swelling during pregnancy, especially as you approach your due date, is completely normal, it is important that you are aware of the other symptoms of the condition and call your medical provider if your swelling is accompanied by any of the following:
  • Severe headaches
  • Blurry or spotty vision
  • Sudden weight gain over a two day period
  • Excessive swelling specifically in the hands and feet.

       If you are diagnosed with preeclampsia, the optimal treatment for the condition is to deliver your baby.  If you are close enough to your due date to be considered full term, your doctor will most likely induce labor and help you welcome your new baby a few days early.  If it is still too early in your pregnancy for baby to make her grand entrance, than your physician may prescribe bed rest, hospitalization, or medication to continue to sustain your pregnancy until it is safe to deliver your little one.


Your To-Do List
           If you haven't already done so, take some time this week to talk with your partner about what life will be like after your baby arrives.  While you have probably already shared your hopes and dreams about your future family life, this is a good week to talk about some more of the specific changes that are going to soon occur.  Use the following list as a starting point for some great conversation between the two most important people in your little one's life: his parents!
  • How are you going to divide your new parenthood responsibilities?  Will it be 50/50?  If you change one diaper, will your partner do the next?  How about feeding, bathing and dressing your sweet one?
  • If you are planning to breastfeed, do you want your partner to help you in the middle of the night when you are up for a 2:00 a.m. feeding?  Some partners will change their baby's diaper and then bring the baby in to the mother when it is time to nurse.  Will you pump so that your partner can participate in some of those blurry-eyed meals while you sleep?
  • If both you and your partner will be working again once your baby is born, who will be responsible for dropping off and picking your baby up from daycare?  Who will prepare family meals and clean up after dinner?
  • If you are expecting a boy, are you planning to have him circumcised?
  • How about time away?  Can your partner still expect to spend the weekend days on the golf course?  Will your partner be available and willing to stay home alone with the baby while you enjoy an evening out with the girls?

       I realize that these are not your typical light dinner time conversation topics and some of the answers may seem a bit obvious, but talk about them anyway.  You may be surprised to find that you and your partner are completely in sync when it comes to some of these baby-care basics.  If that is the case, great!  You have just solidified your expectations and are now more prepared to bring your little one home.  You may also find that there are a few issues that need to be resolved before your due date.  If that is the case, great!  You still have several weeks to define your upcoming roles, discuss your thoughts, feelings, and expectations with one another and continue the process of preparing yourself to bring your little one home.  Once you have delivered your baby and the combination of post-partum emotions and many sleepless nights have kicked in, it can be much more difficult to have these types of talks.  By sharing your thoughts on these issues now, your partner is more likely to hear you speaking from your heart rather than from your hormones.


Your Homework: Preparing for Parenthood
           This week take a moment and trace your hand and your partner's on a piece of paper.  When you are finished tracing them, cut them out.  Next, begin to brainstorm five different things that you enjoy doing when you need to relax and be refreshed.  Maybe for you it's having a cup of coffee with a friend or reading a favorite magazine.  Maybe your partner enjoys a good workout or going to a favorite sporting event.  After determining your five, write one on each of the fingers of your paper hand.  When you are done read over your top five activities and your partner's top five as well and then post these hands in a prominent location where you can be reminded of them often.       

       In the weeks, months, and years of parenting ahead, there will be moments when you feel completely overwhelmed.  It is during these times that you and your partner need to encourage one another to take some time and enjoy one of these five activities.  Dads, rather than telling your spouse to "Chill out! Calm Down! Just Relax" try encouraging her to specifically do one of the activities she listed.  If reading a good book is relaxing for her, pick up a title by her favorite author at the library and surprise her with it.  Then, offer to take the baby for a long walk so that she can have a few moments of quiet reading time to herself.  Likewise, Moms, if your spouse is feeling stressed out and overwhelmed and golfing is his thing, arrange a tee-time for a Saturday morning and surprise him with some time of refreshment.  Remember, your stress and that of your partner, will affect your child.  Their tiny hand will soon be held by your strong and protective one, and he or she will need that hand to be as calm and centered as possible.   Be proactive and be prepared to care for yourself in such a way that your hands as well as your heart and soul can help you to be the best parent possible.


My Experience
           There have been many times throughout our experience as parents that my husband and I have felt stressed out and overwhelmed.  Parenthood is a thrilling and awesome responsibility and with that responsibility and our desire to be the best parents that we can be, we can sometimes find ourselves feeling a bit lost.  Taking the time to write down our five favorite ways to refresh and rejuvenate has been a fantastic way to help each other through this awesome journey of parenthood.  There have been times when I have inadvertently allowed the stress of too many things around me to leave me feeling overwhelmed and unproductive.  Unfortunately, during those times, I am often too stressed-out to know how to relax!  It is then that my husband can and will say, "I'll keep the kids, why don't you go to the gym and then stop for a cup of coffee on the way home."  Working out and drinking a cup of great coffee are two of my top five favorite things to do.  So by the time I've finished bonding with my favorite treadmill and then perused the book store with a "decaf, non-fat, sugar-free, two Splenda, caramel latte" I come home feeling like a brand new woman and a much better mom.  The circumstances of my life haven't changed, the same challenges and responsibilities still surround me, but emotionally I am refreshed and once again ready to take on the world...or at least the world of motherhood!


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