Pregnancy diary: week 25 – what is baby upto?

As we’re approaching the end of the second trimester (where did that trimester go?! ….the first seemed longer!), I thought I’d do a bit of research into what baby is upto at the moment in terms of growth and development at this stage of pregnancy. I say ‘research’ – this consists of me reading the NHS ‘Pregnancy’ book (for the first time in ages) and a few other pregnancy websites. I used to follow Andrew’s progress in pregnancy much more regularly, as I found it interesting to know what was going on inside me at each stage, but this time I’ve had fewer opportunities to catch up with where we’re at.

So, apparently I should really look pregnant now. Check. Apparently I may also feel hungrier…. I feel less nauseous, does that count? I can’t say that I’ve really got a sense of ‘hunger’ back. In the morning and afternoon, I do feel more like eating for the taste of the food itself rather than because I know I have to (though still no smelly cooking allowed in the flat), but the evenings are still not great. Still, I’m generally feeling much better than in early pregnancy 🙂 Both the ‘looking more pregnant’ and ‘feeling hungrier’ things are of course to do with baby starting to grow more quickly per week than in the earlier weeks which involved a lot of laying the foundations of growth. The BBC pregnancy calendar tells me to make sure I eat well and put my feet up when I can because my body is working hard. Bless it, it clearly doesn’t know I have a toddler to look after! Feet up is a thing reserved for evenings, when I just lie horizontal anyway.

Apparently baby is moving around ‘vigorously’ now. Check – definitely! That’s a good word to describe it actually. He/she also responds to touch and sound, and a loud noise close by make make him/her jump and kick. That’s definitely the case, like when my tummy was being prodded and poked in various ways for the scans I had last week, baby moved in reaction to touch, and when we’re in church, baby is always very active during and after the worship sessions (which feature drums, keyboards, guitars, and of course my singing).  Daddy and Andrew are also starting to get reactions out of baby, either intentionally in the case of Tom talking to the bump or unintentionally in the case of Andrew boofing the bump as he feeds or plays with me. It’s amazing to think that baby is starting to experience bits of family life even in the womb.

Looking bumpy! This is the last time I wore these trousers - when I took them off I discovered a rip right over my bottom! Apologies to anyone who saw me that day, whenever it happened. Nobody was brave enough to tell me though. Although they weren't particularly tight, they were wearing very thin across the bottom, and I did brush past a bike handle that day whilst locking my bike up and trying to get out of the space between my bike and the next (bike racks weren't designed for big or pregnant people!), so I think it must have torn then.

Something that I can’t say whether it’s happening from the outside is that apparently baby is swallowing small amounts of amniotic fluid and passing tiny amounts of urine back into the fluid. That doesn’t sound particularly nice, but it’s a good thing I guess to get the system used to working before it has to do it ‘for real’ once baby is out in the real world of being unattached to me through the umbilical cord. Baby may also get hiccups; I haven’t felt this yet, but I do remember Andrew getting hiccups quite a lot in the womb (and, incidentally, I know now that frequent hiccups in a newborn can be a sign of tongue-tie….) By now baby is covered in a greasy substance called vernix, which is thought to be there to protect the skin as it floats in the amniotic fluid. The skin isn’t as tough as it will be at birth as it’s still developing – this is why premature babies often look redder than full-term babies who have their natural skin pigment colour. The vernix mostly disappears before birth, but I do remember Andrew having some bits left on his back when he was born.

It may be that baby starts to follow a pattern for waking and sleeping. I haven’t noticed this yet, but then I’m not sure I will without really paying attention and making notes, because I’m so busy doing everything else that I don’t really think about when exactly I feel kicks or not. I do know that I would notice if I suddenly felt far fewer kicks over the course of a day though, and this is something I would need to contact my midwife or GP about. Apparently it’s quite common that baby sleeps more in the day when mum is up and about, and then decides to wake up and wriggle as she is slowing down and going to sleep herself. I don’t remember this being a particular problem with Andrew; I think I just slept well generally in pregnancy, until the end when I was so big and then felt him moving a lot all the time! Let’s hope this will be the case this time too 🙂

At this stage of pregnancy, it’s relatively easy to pick up baby’s heartbeat with a stethoscope or ultrasound probe. As this is my second baby, I don’t get a midwife appointment this week as I did with Andrew, so I don’t get to hear that amazing sound of the heart beating on the ultrasound machine. I’ll have to wait until 28 weeks for that pleasure. Apparently it won’t be long before Tom (or anyone else who’s invited to get that close to bump!) can possibly hear the heartbeat just by putting his ear to my tummy, but only if baby is in the right position. I don’t hold out a lot of hope for that!

With most of baby’s vital organs now developed and in place, most of the work left to do is just increasing everything in size. Baby is basically an even mini-er version of what he/she will be when born in about 15 weeks. The brain and nervous system are still getting there, however, and are developing intensely around this time. Although the brain needs to reach a certain level of development in order for baby to survive outside of the womb, it doesn’t stop developing at birth. In fact baby’s brain will continue to change as he/she experiences things in the world right throughout childhood and into adulthood. This is what happens as we learn new things – the brain makes new connections within itself, and is constantly doing this in the first years of life. Fascinating!

So as you can see, that’s a lot of stuff going on with baby right now, some of which I’m aware of from the outside by observing his/her reactions, and some of which isn’t obvious but is interesting to think about and imagine going on inside me. Next week sees us counting down to 30, in more ways than one, as I’ll be 26 weeks pregnant and celebrating my 20-something-th birthday 😉

Pregnancy diary: week 17 – kicks kick-off & a cold

At the end of last week’s post, I mentioned that I could have included another word beginning with ‘M’ to go with the M-theme that last week had. Nobody was bold enough to comment with their guess of what this word could be. What I was thinking of was ‘movement’, because since last week I have definitely been able to feel baby moving around inside me. This is very exciting 🙂

Looking any bumpier? Maybe, though this is a more fitted top than last week's

I can’t remember exactly when I started to feel Andrew moving, but I think it was a couple of weeks later than this. I did read in a pregnancy guide that you tend to feel your second baby sooner than your first, though I’m not sure why that would be the case – maybe you just know what you’re expecting to feel, so you recognise it sooner? I do know that at first, with both Andrew and this baby, I wasn’t entirely sure if it was baby moving or just my digestive system, which was perfectly feasible given how my diet has been less than ideal with the sickness and nausea. Again this uncertainty and confusion with digestion is reported by other pregnant mums, so I’m not alone. But this time I’m now sure that it’s not just my inner bits but baby’s legs/arms that I can feel!

As yet I can’t say that there’s a distinct pattern of daily activity, for example baby could be quiet when I’m awake and moving around and kicking lots when I’m trying to rest/sleep. This is a fairly common pattern so I’ve heard, and it makes sense when you think about it: mum moving around creates a nice rocking movement that is conducive to baby falling asleep, and mum staying still is the perfect time for the little one’s arms and legs to stretch and feel around their environment. This is also one of the reasons ‘babywearing’ (i.e. carrying baby in a sling) is recommended in the early days – the closeness to mum’s tummy in a warm and cosy position whilst being naturally rocked by mum’s walking movements is like baby was used to in the womb.

I’m so glad that feeling baby kicks happened now, because otherwise it would have been a pretty rotten week of pregnancy. After starting this post with the ‘good’, I’ll move on to the ‘bad’. At the end of last week I got a sore throat and an annoying cough, and by Sunday evening it had turned into a horrible cold with runny and bunged up nose (how is that possible at the same time?!) and general aches and low energy. Just when I thought the sickness was on it’s way out, this has thrown me back somewhat. I’m sure it’ll pass, and normally I wouldn’t complain much about this sort of thing, but when you’re already feeling fragile, it seems ten times worse than a usual cold.

The most annoying and frustrating thing is not being able to take any real medication. I fall into that ‘not to be used when pregnant or breastfeeding’ instruction on the back of medicine packets, not just once but twice (still working on the nursling weaning thing…). I used to dose myself up when I got a cold, with things like a decongestant and paracetamol in the day and knock myself out with something that makes you drowsy to help me sleep through the coughing. I say ‘used to’ because I haven’t taken any medicines other than the odd bit of paracetamol for over 2 years now – wow that seems like ages when I put it like that – and thinking ahead, who knows how much longer it’ll be like this – seems even more like ages when I put it like that!! Thankfully my hayfever didn’t flare up as much the past two summers as in previous years, as that was my main concern about not being able to take medication.

So I’ve had to look for drug-free ways to help my symptoms and get through the day and night without driving myself (or Tom) mad! Handily I have a very good, free source of information on this – my local friendly pharmacists, who are great for advising on minor illnesses. In fact mine aren’t that local in a geographic sense, but they do let me get in touch out of hours. They are my parents 🙂 Basically the suggestions are: head over steamy bowl of water, hot drink of (lemon) squash, sucking boiled sweet for sore throat/cough. Oh and my mum always says red wine and chocolate can relieve most symptoms of any minor illness (probably just by making you feel happier!) – don’t fancy the wine, but I’ve given chocolate a bit of a go when the nausea is at its lowest in the day.

If we’ve had the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’, what about the ‘ugly’? I guess that has to be the insane amount of snot! Tissues are filling up our bins quicker than anything else at the moment. But…. there is an advantage to having a cold: changing Andrew’s nappy is a much less stinky job! On that more positive note, I’ll leave you until next week’s round-up.