Our Baby (a.k.a. Lil' Feisty):
- Now measures anywhere from 13 to 15 inches long, depending on what you're reading. Basically, that little sucker is long enough that stretching out from head to toe is no longer possible!
- Could weigh anywhere from 2 to 2.5 pounds. From here on out it's basically time to start packing on the pounds.
- Will probably be able to open those beautiful eyes for the first time this week! The eyelids fused at 11 weeks along and are now able to open.
- Is on a regular wake/sleep cycle, which is most likely different than mine.
- Shows measurable brain activity now.
- Am feeling that rabid little mongoose move and roll and kick like crazy now.
- Will have to pee more and more as these last 12/13 weeks roll along. And I might even get to experience SNISSING. Or LISSING. That's when you-know-what happens when you sneeze or laugh really hard . . .
- Have the same ol' discomforts--headaches, backaches, leg cramps, swelling, constipation, heartburn, etc.
- Could have extra skin/hair/nail changes at this point.
- Have made arrangements for childbirth classes now that this week is the rollover week into the THIRD TRIMESTER. Holy cow.
- Feel Lil' Feisty living up to the name, that's for sure. Feisty loves to tap dance on my bladder and play the bongos on my ribs. Sometimes even at the same time. Oh, and let's not underestimate the pain when that stinker aims a roundhouse at my cervix. Yee-ouch!
- Almost want to cry at the thought of having to pee MORE than I already do. Seriously. I used to have an iron bladder, folks. This whole peeing every few hours thing is crazy. I go pee, stand up, and instantly feel like I have to pee again! I think it's because Feisty has decided that my bladder makes the best pillow/chair/dance platform in the world.
- Had a headache for three days in a row this last week. All those weeks without a whiff of headache were blissful, but they've finally caught up to me.
- Have determined that there, in fact, IS a perfectly-sized pillow to place between my legs to prevent hip pain and backaches. Unfortunately, we don't own a pillow of such dimensions.
- Still have not had major constipation, swelling, or heartburn.
- Finally have that gorgeous pregnancy hair everyone waxes on about. My scalp finally got used to the extra oil. My hair no longer falls out AT ALL. It's incredibly shiny. I'm taking it as a trade-off: in exchange for the larger discomforts of the third trimester I finally get pretty pregnancy hair.
- Signed up for classes yesterday!
So these pregnancy classes. I really wanted to take some Hypnobirthing classes with my midwife, but I just don't think she's going to have the time or availability right now. She's an amazing midwife (and I hear she's INCREDIBLE during labor and delivery), and I think word has spread enough that her schedule is jam-packed now. Thankfully, the hospital I'm headed to has childbirth classes which include a detailed tour of the birth center. I'm really excited to see all of that. And even if the birthing method I'm choosing differs from some of the techniques they will teach us in the class, it can never hurt to arm ourselves with as much knowledge as possible.
Speaking of arming ourselves, I ordered an important piece of equipment yesterday: a breast pump! While health insurance can be hit and miss for a lot of people, our insurance company takes REALLY good care of pregnant and nursing women. I was able to order an electric double pump for FREE, y'all. Awesome. And while it may not be the brand everyone says is the best (I'm talking about you, Medela), at least I'll have a way to pump. I won't know what the heck to DO with it once it arrives, but that's what my midwife and nurses are for, right?
Ok. I'm assuming we're mostly ladies here, and I'm about to get SUPER personal. I'm going to start throwing around the S-E-X word and various parts of female anatomy. You've been warned.
Last week, we talked about chafing. The whole deal with that, in a nutshell, is that your labia swell. Sometimes they swell a LOT. This swelling thing is not just confined to the labia, though. Oh no. EVERYTHING down there starts to swell. This includes your vaginal tissues. Honestly, this can cause some feelings ranging from discomfort to downright PAIN during sex (depending on a large number of factors of which I'm sure most of you can guess). This can be tough to deal with, especially as surging hormones can turn your libido into a raging wildfire.
It can feel embarrassing to talk to your health care provider about this, but it's well worth it. If your husband wants to go with you to appointments but feels weird having his sex life discussed in front of your doctor/midwife, then have him wait outside for that part. Either way, it never hurts to ask about these things.
A lot of the solutions are the exercises and stretches you would do to avoid an episiotomy. Basically, the goal with those things is to strengthen, stretch, and prepare yourself DOWN THERE so that baby can slip out smoothly and without tearing. Early on, it's important to do those kegels (for strength), and it's even more important to do squats (for the stretch). When it comes to labor prep, we're not talking gym squats (although those are always good to keep doing), we're talking DEEP squats, where your rear is mere inches from the floor while your heels are still on the ground. These are more like yoga squats, and they feel amazing once your hips, legs, and groin get used to such extreme stretching. The handy thing about being pregnant, though, is all that relaxin in your body, so even if you never could have done that stretch before, you can probably do it now. Here's a video demonstrating the proper squat in two different ways.
The last thing you can do to start preparing your body for labor is . . . perineal massage. That's right. If you don't know what that means, here's an anatomy lesson for you. The area between your vagina and your anus is your perineum. When a baby is born, the head can sometimes be too big or the perineum can be too tight, and this causes the skin to split apart to make room. This is what women mean when they say they had a tear during birth. Tears can be minor (surface and skin-only) or major (deep into the muscles). They even have a scale that measures tears by degrees. It can be scary to hear a woman describe a fourth-degree tear.
This is where perineal massage comes in. It's exactly what it sounds like. Using a safe, neutral oil (olive oil is just fine), you or your husband (if he is willing) firmly massages your perineum for about 5-10 minutes every day for the last part of your pregnancy. Most places tell you start 6-8 weeks ahead of time. I've started early, simply because I want to make SURE I'm totally supple down there. This isn't like getting a massage at a spa. This is a more focused activity, designed specifically to stretch your lower vaginal tissues and opening. Think of it like working oil into a brand new baseball glove. The goal is make the tissue as bendy and stretchy and supple as possible so that baby can just slip on out without fuss.
Here's a step-by-step guide to perineal massage, complete with illustrated (accurate but not graphic) pictures. Shows how to do it yourself or have a partner do it for you.
Let me just say that I can already feel a difference in my body after starting perineal massage. Even if I do have a tear during birth, it will have been worth it to do this.
How's that for keeping it real this week?