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Week #28 of Pregnancy

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Your Pregnancy: Week 28

By Erin Horner, edHelperBaby

  Your Baby
           With each day that passes, your baby continues to develop in amazing ways.  This week she is sprouting eyelashes and blinking.  Consider it early practice for the upcoming years when she will stand before you, bat those beautiful lashes and in her sweetest voice say, "Oh please mom!  Please, may I have it!"  The truth of the matter is your baby has you wrapped around her little finger and she hasn't even been born yet!  This is also the week when baby's brain begins to develop the grooves and ridges that we commonly associate with the human brain.  Up until this point, her brain has been relatively smooth.  From now on, when someone asks how the baby is you can respond with, "She's groovy!"


Your Body
           If earlier in your pregnancy you were found to be Rh-Negative, this is typically the week when your doctor will administer a RhoGam shot.  This shot is designed to protect you from becoming sensitized should your baby's blood mix with yours during this last trimester.  After birth, doctors will test your baby's blood to determine whether her blood is Rh-Negative or Rh-Positive.  If like you, she is found to be Rh -Negative, then you will not need a second dose of RhoGam. If she inherited Rh-positive blood instead, then you will receive a second shot, which will be administered within 72 hours of baby's delivery.

       As your pregnancy progresses you may begin to notice that the great burst of energy you had during your second trimester is starting to disappear.  Consider this Mother Nature's way of encouraging you to slow down and relax before the birth of your little one.  If you are starting to feel more tired and easily worn down, take advantage of it!  Lie down and enjoy a power nap.  Curl up with a good book.  Order take-out, watch that movie that you've wanted to see and enjoy an evening in.  These things may seem silly and not like that big of a deal, but once your bundle of joy arrives, they will all be a bit more difficult to do, so take some time this week and enjoy them now.


  You're Wondering. . .
           Sometimes at night I'm left lying awake because my legs won't stop twitching and jumping.  Then, when I do manage to fall asleep I wake-up in the middle of the night with horrible leg cramps!  What can I do to ease these uncomfortable symptoms?

       Restless Leg Syndrome, or RLS, is unfortunately fairly common during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.  While doctors aren't completely sure what causes it, some believe that it may be due to changes in your body's circulation patterns, hormonal changes, as well as folate or iron deficiencies.  While there are some medications that can be used to treat the unpleasant side-effects of RLS none are considered safe to use during pregnancy.  So what can you do to try and make the creepy-crawly feelings go away?  If at all possible, try to avoid sitting or lying in the same position for too long.  Some women find relief in a warm or cool bath, depending on your personal preference or time of year.  Still others believe that the best relief is found only in a good leg massage.  This treatment seems to work best when you can convince your partner to be the masseuse and not only talk him into rubbing your legs, but also your aching back as well!

       Leg cramps, the other night time annoyance often experienced around this time of pregnancy, may be a bit easier to relieve.  The age old adage ‘the best defense is a good offense' rings true in this case.  It may be much easier to prevent leg cramps than it is to deal with the excruciating pain they can bring about right in the middle of a good dream.  Try the following three "S's" and this evening in bed you might find yourself calm, cozy, and cramp-free.

       Stretch.  Stretching your leg and calf muscles daily, especially before bed time, seems to be one of the most effective strategies in preventing leg cramps.  Here's one to try:
  1. Place both hands up on a wall, shoulder-width apart.
  2. Next, take one small step back with each foot and plant your feet in place.  As you lean into your hands you should be able to feel your calf muscles beginning to stretch.  If you cannot yet feel the stretch, take another small step back.
  3. Once your feet have found the right distance from the wall, slowly bend one knee.  This will increase the stretch in the opposite calf muscle.  Hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds then straighten that leg.
  4. Repeat by bending the opposite knee.

       Stride.  Daily exercise also seems to play a large role in reducing leg cramps.  The beauty of exercise is that it's beneficial for every aspect of your pregnancy, not just your crampy legs (unless, of course, your doctor has advised against it).  Enjoy a nice walk around the block with your partner after dinner, go swimming, or exercise with a pregnancy workout DVD.  No matter what type you choose, as long as it is not overly strenuous, choosing to exercise will leave you feeling better physically as well as emotionally and can give you a much needed boost of energy.

       Sip.  Be sure that you are drinking enough water during the day.  Some leg cramps may be intensified if your body is dehydrated.

       If after trying these suggestions leg cramps are still cramping your style, try your best to stretch through them.  Straighten your leg, heel first, and pull your toes back toward you.  If possible, try to walk around for a few minutes until the cramp has subsided.  The good news is that while leg cramps can be extremely uncomfortable and annoying, they usually subside on their own within a few weeks of giving birth.  At which point you will still be waking up every few hours, but it will be to soothe your precious baby rather than your aching legs.  And while you will still be exhausted, there is nothing in all this world like holding that baby in your arms and marveling over the miracle that she is.  Trust me, the crampy, jumpy legs, and everything else that you are going through is all worth it!


Your "To-Do" List
           If you haven't already done so, this is a good week to begin setting up your baby's nursery.  While you still have some energy left and before your belly gets any bigger take some time to set-up and organize baby's room.  Be sure to delegate the moving of any heavy furniture to your partner or strong friend.  As you create baby's first home outside of your body, be sure to think about the environment that you want to create for her.  Her room should be a cozy place where she will be able to sleep and play.  What elements do you need to include in order to make that happen?  Really, not too many.  Some parents easily can get carried away in filling their children's room with so much stuff that the environment can become overwhelming, even to a newborn.  So keep it simple, serene and safe.  Here are a few basics to consider:
  1. A place to sleep.  Your baby will need a crib, pack-n-play, or bassinet of some sort to sleep in when she no longer has your solitary womb all to herself.  Some parents choose to bring baby into their room with them in a bassinet for the first few months of life to more easily facilitate night-time feedings and because they desire to be close.  Others choose to move baby into their new bed and new room on their first night home from the hospital.  The choice is yours.
  2. Changing area.  You will want some place to change your little one's diapers.  Some parents opt for changing tables which are designed specifically for this task.  We chose to use a regular, waist high, dresser and then added a changing pad that could be screwed into the back of the dresser, to the top.  This allowed us to kill two birds with one stone as we were able to use the top of the dresser for diaper changes and the drawers of the dresser for clothes.  If you choose to use a dresser for your diaper changing station, be sure that it is a comfortable height for you to work with and make sure that the changing pad that you use can be securely attached to the dresser to prevent baby from accidentally falling.
  3. Window coverings.  While there is no need to spend a fortune decorating your little one's room, do consider installing some type of window coverings.  Remember, you will want your baby to nap during the day and if the bright afternoon sun and all of its energy are blazing into your sweet one's nursery, you may have a hard time convincing her that it is time to sleep and not play!
  4. Rocking chair.  You may want to think about placing a rocking chair of some sort into your baby's room.  This chair will be a place where you can snuggle up during night time feedings, read stories during the afternoon, and just enjoy one another all day long.
  5. Books.  Be sure to include some great board books and an area to store them in your baby's room.  By placing books in your little one's nursery and reading them to him or her regularly, you will help your child to develop a love for reading from the earliest stages of learning on.  Many educators believe that a child's ability to learn to read is directly impacted by his or her attitude toward reading.  If she associates reading as a positive and enjoyable experience, she will be more eager to learn and therefore probably more successful in her literacy attempts.  On the flip side, children who have not had a positive experience with books, have not been held and cuddled and read to, may struggle in their literacy quest because the reading of books doesn't create the same warm and cozy feelings that it does for others.   Take advantage of your role as your baby's first teacher and provide him or her with plenty of board books to peek at, play with, and enjoy.


Your Homework: Preparing For Parenthood
           Most of us have heard that children learn by example.  When we get really fired up over a certain situation, and our kids are listening, they have a tendency to repeat, word for word our thoughts and feelings about the event at hand.  This, unfortunately, always seems to be said at the wrong time, in front of the wrong people   This role modeling, can however, work to our advantage.  If children learn what they live, and will mimic what is modeled for them, then as parents we have a chance to help mold and shape our sweet little babies into wonderful adults, simply by the way we live!

       Your homework assignment this week is a two-parter.
  1. Make a list of the top ten characteristics that you want your child to possess as he or she grows-up.  As you think about that little person growing inside of you, what kind of big person do you want him to turn into?  Do you want him to be kind, compassionate, successful, family-oriented and generous?  The list of qualities could go on and on.  Take some time to brainstorm these qualities with your partner and then write them down.  Next, post the list somewhere where you will see it several times throughout the day (maybe the refrigerator!).  Let this list serve as a positive reminder of all of the hopes and dreams that you have for your little one.
  2. Look at the list of characteristics that you desire to instill in your baby and identify the areas of your life that exemplify those.  Maybe you desire to raise a child with a strong work ethic.  If you are a hard worker and always complete the task at hand, congratulations!  You are well on your way to modeling the importance of a strong work ethic and there is a good chance that your child will learn this through your positive example.  As you look at your list, you may find that there are some things that you want for your child that you have not yet grasped for yourself.  If you want your child to be respectful, then you will need to practice speaking to and about others in a respectful way.  If you want your child to be optimistic, then you may need to work on seeing the glass as half full instead of half empty.  If you want your child to be courageous, then you may need to find your inner-strength and tackle something adventurous.  Spend the next few days identifying ways that you can continue to develop these positive traits within yourself, and then do it!  Researchers say that it takes 6 weeks to create a habit.  You have twice that long until your baby is due.  Wow!  Just think of what a great person you will be by the time your little one arrives!


  My Experience
           I wish that I could say that I took the time to do this while I was pregnant, but unfortunately it wasn't until I heard myself speaking through the voice of my 2 1/2 year old (at a very inopportune time!) that I realized it was time to make a list.  In my heart I knew the kind of children that I wanted to raise. While my heart was saying "You want to raise your children to be joyful, positive, and peaceful" the day -to-day grind of life, stress, work, marriage, house cleaning, laundry, etc was drowning it out.  Instead of being a role model of those great attributes that my kids could mimic, they were all too often seeing a mother who was grumpy, frustrated, busy, and negative.  It wasn't so much the words that my daughter repeated from me that brought me to my senses, but rather her tone.  How could I explain to her that she was speaking rudely and was being insensitive, when she was only repeating exactly what she had heard?  I sat down that very afternoon and wrote out my list and then began the difficult job of identifying what I needed to change in order to become the mom and person that I truly wanted to be.  I would love to tell you that in the last 2 1/2 years I have miraculously become a brand new woman.  I never yell, lose my patience, get irritated when the same question is asked for the 10th time, and I never go to bed regretting something that has happened during the day.  But if I told you those things, I'd be lying, and that is a character trait that I don't want my kids to develop!  I will tell you, however, that making a list of whom I want my son and daughter to be has helped me become more like the person that I want to be.  Now, when I recognize myself in the voice of my children, I like what I hear . . . most of the time!


Scheduling Your Life
By Laura Delgado, Ph.D., edHelperBaby

         By the start of the third trimester, many moms may be feeling overwhelmed by their to-do lists.  Your doctor appointments will soon begin to increase in frequency, you will soon begin to enjoy rounds of baby showers and your work schedule may begin to change as you prepare either for maternity leave or to leave the work place altogether.  If you are a stay-at-home-mom already, you may find that you are facing new challenges regarding child care for your existing child(ren) as you prepare for your new arrival.  If you do not already have some sort of planner or schedule that you regularly use, you may very well find that for the first time in your life that you require one.  Even if you have been using a planner dedicatedly for some time, you may find that it no longer meets your changing needs.  Fortunately, creating a customized scheduling system for you and your family does not have to cost anything and it is as close at hand as your Internet connection!

     There are numerous free websites that offer various forms that you can customize and print to create your own planner that best suits the unique needs of you and your household.  Some of them are better suited to families with children and some of them are completely customizable.  The best of these are as follows:       
  • http://www.donnayoung.org
  • http://www.chartjungle.com
  • http://organizedhome.com/printable-planner-forms
       Many new moms find that making dinner, a previously pleasurable occupation, becomes an onerous chore after baby is born.  Begin preparing for the transition now by becoming accustomed to planning your meals and shopping trips now.  The following websites are extremely useful:       
  • http://www.menus4moms.com/
  • http://www.savingdinner.com/
  • http://www.dinewithoutwhine.com/
       Research has shown that family dinner time is crucial in the intellectual development of children and that children who eat dinner with their parents on a regular basis are less likely to use drugs and entertain depressive thoughts.  While these problems are a long way off for parents of newborns, building this habit early is beneficial for the whole family.  The above mentioned websites can take the guesswork out of menu planning and can allow busy moms to prepare healthy meals in very little time, allowing them to experience all of the benefits of family dinner time, without all of the time consuming hassle.  Further, when building a customized planner, a menu planning section can be very easily incorporated! For a mom in her third trimester of pregnancy, it is all about making life easier and enjoying the last few months before the blessed event!       


Academics and Infants!
By Laura Delgado, Ph.D., About my child Therese, Nicholas, Mary-Catherine, Michael

           I gave birth to four children within the space of 40 months (I cheated as the last two were twins!).  I was also finishing my dissertation while my first two children were toddlers and I worked for my dissertation advisor.  If I had not relied on some sort of scheduling system, I would not have known what I was supposed to be doing at any given time.  Traditional planners have never exactly worked for me, though.  The boxes were never the right size and the forms were never exactly what I needed them to be, especially when my life was consumed almost equally by babies and academics.  I was forever cobbling together my own makeshift planners.  Now that I juggle freelance writing, homeschooling my four children and all of the activities that come with being a mom to those four children, creating the right kind of planning system is even more crucial.  That is why I prefer to customize forms that are widely available and compile my own planner.  That way, the planner does what I need it to do, rather than me trying to do what my planner requires of me.  I print everything out on 8 1/2" x 11" paper and then comb bind it (I own a comb binding machine, but an office supply store can comb bind anything very inexpensively).  With comb binding, you can add or remove pages very easily as necessary.  Life is so much less stressful when one has a scheduling system in place that works for you as an individual, so take a look around and see what is out there. Then, customize you planner just for you and do it before baby arrives and never be late for a doctor appointment or wonder what to make for dinner again!


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