If you're feeling bloated and gassy, and tired of being bloated and gassy, you're in good company: By the time week 26 rolls around, many women are starting to think of labor as a saving grace. Lucky for them, and you, it's just around the corner.
Chances are, your discomfort, anxiety and excitement are growing at similar rates now. At the start of this week, you're just two weeks from trimester three and the final months of pregnancy. Baby is roughly, astonishingly, just 14 weeks off.
Here, what this week may feel like, what your baby is up to, and what you may want to put on your 2 a.m. to-do list for when those kicks, cramps or aching hips are keeping you up.
First, how are you feeling?
What You Might Be Feeling
It's the middle of your sixth month, and you're probably pretty darned familiar with the majority of week 26 symptoms. They do go on and on, thanks primarily to those wacky pregnancy hormones. You're probably experiencing:
- Continued skin and hair changes
- All sorts of indigestion, including heartburn, bloating, flatulence and constipation
- Hip and pelvic achiness (often called "round ligament pain"), from the loosening of your joints
- Dry eyes
- Occasional headaches and dizziness
- Leg cramps, especially at night
Also this week, you might start to notice:
- Increased back pain, as your belly gets bigger and your center of gravity continues to shift
- Pelvic pain, or SPD, which results from a too-loose pelvic joint
- Increased urination as your uterus starts pressing down on your bladder
- Hormone-related mood swings -- not quite at trimester-one levels, but getting there
- Something wedged between your ribs, most likely a foot
- Increased overall activity in your womb
You're probably feeling more and more action in there every day now, including, perhaps, something oddly rhythmic.
What's Going On In Your Body
Length: Over 9 inches (head to rump). Weight: About 2 pounds. Hiccups: Totally normal.
In week 26, if you feel some rather rhythmic movement in your uterus that seems to last a good while, your baby may be dancing to the radio while you drive, since those ears are working now. More likely, though, it's hiccups. It's a common, painless occurrence these days, often a side effect of lung development.
Some of the other intrauterine activities and stats in week 26 include:
- Eyes are starting to open, and ears are functioning.
- Lungs are continuing to develop.
- A boy's testicles are starting to drop into the scrotum.
One really big occurrence this week is brain development. At 26 weeks, your baby's brain waves look like a newborn's, and he or she is starting to react to stimuli like flashing lights, music, a barking dog and, of course, your voice, which your baby might actually be able to recognize now, not just hear. That familiarity will serve him or her well in the confusion immediately following birth -- so talk about your dreams, the names you're considering and your plans for shedding the baby weight later on. Somebody's listening.
Speaking of baby weight, your partner may want to take note of a related, common pregnancy side effect.
What Your Partner Should Know
It's a known fact, pregnancy is beautiful.
Unfortunately, it's also a known fact that sometimes, pregnant women feel quite the opposite.
Partners, be sensitive to this, and help out. She's probably gained at least 15 pounds by now, maybe more, and while she may (or may not) be stoic about it, she's probably feeling somewhat less than gorgeous, especially when you add the farting, burping and swelling to that extra weight.
So, whether you're totally stoked on her new form or not, be stoked about it. She could probably use a compliment or two, just some general reassurance that she's still, in fact, very beautiful. Encourage her to get all dolled up for a night out (or in). You may be surprised how much it's appreciated.
And, a few other things you may want to think about this week, if you've got the time …
Some Things to Consider
Believe it or not, week 26 is still on the light side, symptom-wise. Before you get to the truly waddling exhaustion of trimester three, you may want to deal with a few physical matters, such as furniture assembly, nursery decorating and shopping for the items you'll need from day one.
Do keep in mind, though, that your balance is not what it once was, and you shouldn't be doing the heavy lifting. Bring your partner in for that, and share some thoughts and fears of parenthood while you work together. Bonding will only become more important as you near the big day.
Also this week, make some headway in car seat research, since you should install that sometime in the next six weeks, and consider your plans for child care, if that's something you'll need. It can take a while to find the right situation.
Finally, start thinking about whether you'll bank the cord blood. You need to make that decision before your labor starts, since there's planning involved. Talk to your doctor, who will probably be able to educate or advise you -- or at least provide some informative literature.
And then, which worries you can set aside …
Don't Worry If …
This week, as you pore over material on the right car seat for your car, the crib that's both affordable and safe, and the pain-management method you'd like to use during delivery, you can try to ignore any concerns with the fact that:
You simply must push that foot out of your rib cage.
If a particular fetal position makes you really uncomfortable, you can certainly encourage some limb repositioning with a gentle touch. It won't do any harm, and you may even experience a response that makes you smile.
You're not fat. And even if you are, you won't be for long. Lots of the weight you gain will melt away very quickly after you give birth, without that much effort on your part.
You don't look at all like your sister did at 26 weeks.
Every woman carries differently, and those difference can become more intense in the later stages of pregnancy. The baby's positioning has a lot to do with this. Being bigger or smaller, even significantly so, doesn't indicate a problem.
As you near the final third of your incredible journey, take a moment to consider how far you've come -- perhaps with a prenatal massage or a good, long facial. It's important: With your baby becoming increasingly aware of its world, which is primarily you right now, one could say that being nice to yourself is being nice to your little one, too.
For more information on pregnancy, parenting and related topics, including the symptoms of preterm labor you need to look out for, look over the links on the next page.
- Guide to Being One Week Pregnant
- Guide to Being Two Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Three Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Four Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Five Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Six Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Seven Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Eight Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Nine Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 10 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 11 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 12 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 13 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 14 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 15 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 16 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 17 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 18 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 19 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 20 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 24 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 25 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 27 Weeks Pregnant
More Great Links
- "26th Week of Pregnancy." American Pregnancy Association. (May 31, 2011)http://www.americanpregnancy.org/weekbyweek/week26.htm
- "Second Trimester: Week 26." Parenting. (May 31, 2011)http://www.parenting.com/timeline/2nd-trimester-week-26
- "Week 26 of Pregnancy." What to Expect. (May 31, 2011)http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/week-by-week/week-26.aspx
- "Your Pregnancy Week by Week: Weeks 26-30." WebMD. (May 31, 2011)http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/your-pregnancy-week-by-week-weeks-26-30