Week 29 – your third trimester

Are you feeling excited? Or nervous? Or maybe you're a bit of both. Being pregnant stirs up all kinds of emotions. You could feel very sad, for example, that a loved one who's passed on will never get to meet your baby. The important thing to do during pregnancy is to talk, talk, talk. Talk to friends, family, your midwife or doctor, and discuss anything that's worrying you. You and your baby are in the middle of a big support network, all you need to do is talk… and you'll tap into it.

What's happening in my body?

You might be feeling a bit breathless, as your baby pushes up against your lungs. It puts a strain on your body carrying all that extra weight around too.

You'll probably feel annoyed when people tell you to enjoy your sleep 'while you can', as it's not very easy right now. You could be getting leg cramps. Plus if the baby's pressing up against your bladder, then you'll be up and down all night on the toilet.

Babies seem to have a habit of being really active just as you want to drop off. They have their own sleeping and waking patterns, and you'll be lucky if your schedules coincide! Get to know your baby's patterns, and if they change or stop, then contact your midwife or hospital.

Rest when you can in the day. Try supporting your body when you lie down by putting a pillow under your bump, and another one between your legs. It's best to try and sleep on your side. If you feel unable to cope, because you're just too tired, then talk to your midwife or doctor.

How to tell your baby's sex

Do you know if you're having a boy or a girl? You may have been given a good idea at your anomaly scan, but sometimes it's tricky to get a proper look. Also it may not your hospital's policy to reveal the sex before the birth.

The most accurate ways to tell are to…

  • Test the placenta (with chorionic villus sampling)

  • Test the fluid around the baby (amniocentesis)

Both these tests carry risks and so are only offered in certain cases, for example if you are at high risk of having a baby with Down's syndrome.

There's also a blood test, but it's not in widespread use. You may have been offered Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) if you could be a carrier of a sex-linked genetic condition. This test looks for small amounts of your baby's DNA in your blood. It is very safe and accurate.

You cannot tell your baby's sex from…

The position of your bump

Some people think a neat high bump means you're carrying a boy, while a low rounded bump contains a girl. In fact, the differences are more to do with your height, muscles, how many babies you've already had, and how much you eat in pregnancy.

Your baby's heart rate

Some people say that if it's over 140 bpm, then it's more likely to be a girl. Nice idea, but there's no science to back it up!

Gender prediction kits you can buy on the internet

These claim to measure testosterone in your urine, or traces of the baby's DNA in your blood. However they rely on you providing a usable sample and that's not easy. They are also very expensive. Some doctors think that you're just as likely to get the right result by tossing a coin.

Spinning a wedding ring over your pregnant belly

It's supposed to spin in circles for a girl, or like a pendulum for a boy. But this is just a myth – sorry!

Third trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 29 weeks)

You could be feeling awkward and uncoordinated. It takes a while to get used to having a bump and your sense of balance could be all over the place, as your centre of gravity changes. If you fall over, don't panic, you've got plenty of padding in there, but let your midwife or doctor know.

Your signs of pregnancy could also include:

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 38.6cm long from head to heel, and weighs about 1.2kg. That's approximately the size of a butternut squash and the weight of a small chicken.

Your baby is perfectly formed. Over the next few weeks, the baby has an important 'to do' list:

  • Grow
  • Get fatter
  • Let the organs mature

Your baby is also trying out a new look. For the past few weeks, they've been covered by a greasy white layer of something called 'vernix' (that protects the skin) and soft, downy hair (for warmth). This starts to disappear now. Your baby is getting ready for the big reveal in about 11 weeks' time.

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Action stations

Start writing your birth plan, if you would like to have one - it's up to you! This is your chance to come up with your dream scenario for the labour and birth, although you may need to be flexible when the time comes. What sort of pain relief do you want, if any? What kind of role do you envisage for your partner? And no… they don't get to try the gas and air!

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 Tommys.org for more ideas.

Attend antenatal classes to prepare you for the birth and beyond. They start around now. If possible, ask your partner to come with you. Even if you’ve had children before, and been there, done that, they’re still worth going to as you can meet other parents. Also don’t expect this pregnancy to be just like your others - your baby could have other plans.

Do your best to stop smoking, give up alcohol and go easy on the cappuccinos. We know that’s easy to say, but hard to do. Ask your midwife or GP for support.

During the winter, consider taking a daily dose of the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D. It’s recommended that you take 10 micrograms every day when you’re pregnant and breastfeeding. Find out if you’re entitled to free vitamins.

Get moving! It’s recommended that pregnant women do 150 minutes of exercise throughout the week. Perhaps take a brisk walk in the park, or go for a swim. If you start any classes, make sure the instructor knows that you’re pregnant. Don’t overdo it though - listen to your body.

Have a fit pregnancy and sign up for a free personal activity plan.

Don’t eat for two! Eat for you. Now you’re in the third trimester, you may need an extra 200 calories a day, but that’s not much. It’s about the same as two slices of wholemeal toast and margarine.

Try and eat healthily with plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and avoid processed, fatty and salty foods. You may be able to get free milk, fruit and veg through the Healthy Start scheme.

How are you today? If you’re feeling anxious or low, then talk to your midwife or doctor 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

Sign up for Meal Mixer and every Friday for four weeks, you'll be sent a free easy recipe that's both healthy and tasty. You'll also get a shopping list of all the ingredients you'll need, which will cost around a fiver. That's a bargain for a family meal, so plan a little treat for yourself with the extra pennies…

Go back to week 28

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