Week-by-week guide to pregnancy
Our week-by-week pregnancy guide is full of essential information. From staying fit in pregnancy to advice on your maternity rights, you'll find it all here. Happy reading!
Week 27 – your second trimester
Pregnancy is divided into three chunks, called trimesters. Next week, when you enter the third trimester, you'll be into the final furlong. There are still a few more fences to jump over, but the finish line is in sight…
What's happening in my body?
You're probably putting on a few pounds now, and your waist is a distant memory. You could be feeling bloated and constipated, and having problems keeping down food. This is partly because your stomach is being squeezed by your growing baby, and also due to the pregnancy hormone, progesterone. It might help if you drink lots of water, choose high fibre options (such as brown bread, rather than white) and eat lots of fresh fruit and veg.
Bit on the side: the best sleeping positions
Should you sleep on your back or side? The American Pregnancy Association recommends sleeping on your left side, as this will "increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta". The NHS guidance is that sleeping on either side is better than sleeping on your back.
That's because after week 28, research suggests that sleeping on your back can double the risk of stillbirth. It's also more likely to give you backache, constipation and piles.
Here are some tips for a safe and sound night's sleep:
- Support your baby bump with a pillow.
- Keep your knees and legs bent.
- Put another pillow between your legs.
- If you roll onto your back, don't worry, just roll back onto your side again.
Are you fit to fly?
This is probably the last week you can fly anywhere without a 'fitness to fly note' from your midwife or GP. If you have a note, which confirms that your pregnancy is uncomplicated, then you can usually travel by plane up until the end of week 36 if you're having a single baby, or the end of week 32 if you're having a multiple birth. Double check the cut-offs with your airline. NB: You may be charged for your note. Find out more about travel during pregnancy.
Second trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 27 weeks)
You could be feeling tired now, so nap when you can in the day. Your partner might mention that you're snoring more. Snoring is very common in pregnancy as your nasal passages are more likely to become swollen and blocked. Keep the peace and buy your partner earplugs!
Your signs of pregnancy could also include:
- sleeping problems
- stretch marks
- swollen and bleeding gums
- pains on the side of your baby bump, caused by your expanding womb ('round ligament pains')
- indigestion and heartburn
- bloating and constipation
- leg cramps
- feeling hot
- swollen hands and feet
- urine infections
- vaginal infections
- darkened skin on your face or brown patches - this is known as chloasma or the 'mask of pregnancy'
- greasier, spotty skin
- thicker and shinier hair
- symptoms from earlier weeks, caused by pregnancy hormones, such as mood swings, morning sickness, weird pregnancy cravings, a heightened sense of smell, sore or leaky breasts, a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina and light spotting (seek medical advice for any bleeding).
Tommy's the baby charity has produced a pregnancy guide with a further list of symptoms.
What does my baby look like?
Your baby, or foetus, is around 36.6cm long from head to heel, and weighs about 875g. That's approximately the size of a big leek, and the weight of a head of cauliflower.
Your baby's lungs are now capable of breathing – and that's a big deal. Your baby is also getting plumper by the day. A few weeks ago, your baby looked a bit like a wrinkled prune. Now the folds of skin are being filled out by fat, and all their organs are maturing, as your baby prepares for life outside the womb.
Do you know where you would like to give birth? This is a great time to start thinking about it. If you're concerned about how coronavirus might affect your birth plan, visit the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists for the most up-to-date advice.
This week you could also...
You have maternity rights and if you're worried about your safety at work, then talk to your employer. You shouldn't be lugging anything around, and you may need extra breaks and somewhere to sit. You can also attend antenatal appointments during paid work time.
It's a good time to tone up those muscles 'down under'. Gentle exercises can help to prevent leakage when you laugh, sneeze, cough or jump around on your future baby's trampoline. Get the muscles going by pretending that you're having a wee and then stop the 'urine' in midflow. Visit Tommy’s.org for more ideas about pelvic floor exercises.
Ask your midwife or doctor about online antenatal classes – they may be able to recommend one. The charity Tommy's has lots of useful information on antenatal classes and preparing you for birth.
Ask your partner if they would like to take part in the antenatal classes. Even if you've had children before, they're still worth going to as you can meet other parents-to-be. The NCT offers online antenatal classes with small groups of people that live locally to you.
We can usually get enough vitamin D from sunlight, but as we are at home a lot more at the moment, you may not be getting enough. If you're pregnant, or breastfeeding, you should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement. It's worth checking if you're entitled to free vitamins.
Get moving! It's recommended that pregnant women do 150 minutes of exercise throughout the week. You could start off with just 10 minutes of daily exercise - perhaps take a brisk walk outside. Check out Sport England's #StayInWorkOut online exercises (scroll to the pregnancy section). Listen to your body and do what feels right for you.
How are you today? If you're feeling anxious or low, then talk to your doctor or midwife who can point you in the right direction to get all the support that you need. You could also discuss your worries with your partner, friends and family. You may be worried about your relationship, or money, or having somewhere permanent to live. Don't bottle it up – you're important, so ask for help if you need it!
Getting pregnant again is probably the last thing on your mind! However now is a good time to start planning what type of contraception you would like to use after your baby is born. Making this decision when you're pregnant will give you one less thing to think about when you're looking after a newborn baby. Getting pregnant again could happen sooner than you realise and too short a gap between babies is known to cause problems. Talk to your GP or midwife to help you decide and get everything in place.
This week's treat
Do something that stretches your brain. Maybe you could cook a new recipe, rediscover an old hobby, or learn a new language online. Keeping your mind active has all kinds of benefits, including reducing stress and helping you to get the most from life. Find out other ways you can keep your mind healthy.