Your Pregnancy: Week 31
As baby gets into position, there’s a chance he/she might settle on the sciatic nerve in your lower back, causing shooting pain, numbness and/or tingling that radiates down the back of one of your legs. We’ll be honest – it’s extremely painful and might possibly last until delivery, but there are a few things that could help: Use a warm heating pad or soak in a bath, do pelvic tilts and stretches, start swimming to strengthen your back muscles, and/or get a professional massage or acupuncture.
Don’t worry if you’re feeling longer periods of quiet from your little gymnast in there, as the baby is now spending longer stretches of time snoozing. Also, as baby continues to grow and the living quarters get more cramped, he/she will start making more deliberate elbow and knee jabs instead of spastic kicks and movements. Still, if you count fewer than 10 movements in two hours, give your doctor a call.
Set up the baby nursery and any accommodations in your own room, like a bassinet.
Read about newborn care (there won’t be time when the baby arrives!) and what to expect in the first few weeks postpartum. Being prepared (as much as you can be) will help ease the overwhelming enormity of those first months.
Sit down and have a heart-to-heart with your partner to air any concerns or fears, and assure one another that everything will be wonderful.
Buy a baby book to record memories and milestones.
Advice from Dr. Shari E. Brasner
Between the variety of aches and pains and preoccupations you are now experiencing, the tranquility of the second trimester may start to feel like a fading dream. It’s not only you, the patient, who pays more attention to the medical minutiae of pregnancy now; your doctor also becomes more focused. Office visits are more frequent, and your obstetrician is specifically concerned with:
- Blood pressure.
- Protein in the urine.
- Weight gain.
- Edema: sudden swelling of the feet and possibly the hands and face which warrants an immediate call to your doctor.”
Babble recommends Dr. Brasner’s pregnancy book, Advice from a Pregnant Obstetrician.
Mom-To-Mom Advice: “Natural Vs. Epidural”
During pregnancy, women often hear “You HAVE TO get the epidural!” in one ear and “‘Natural’ is the only way” in the other. As birth comes closer, it can seem like your one job now is to pick which side you’re on. But drugs or no drugs is actually not the question.
Like breathing, changing positions and massage, the epidural is really just a tool for coping with pain. The way an epidural works depends on too many factors to be easily generalized as a “good” or “bad” idea: Sometimes an epidural will slow down labor, leading to the introduction of other medical interventions. Sometimes an epidural will create enough relief in a very painful, long labor that things speed up and a C-section is avoided. In these cases, has the epidural actually led to a more “natural” birth? Studies show that when a woman gets an epidural in active labor (at or after 5 centimeters dilation) the risk of C-section is lower than if the epidural was applied in early labor. So, part of the epidural decision is about when and under what circumstances to have it. Also, pain is very subjective and it’s impossible to balance the pros and cons of various pain relief measures universally, as each situation is unique.
We all get the births we get. Some are faster, some are longer, some involve waters breaking early, sometimes pushing is the hardest part, sometimes pushing is relatively easy and takes only 15 minutes. Research has shown that when women have a positive birth experience, it’s not because they did it one way (with meds, without, at home, in a hospital, etc.) but because they felt they were treated with respect and kindness at a vulnerable time. This means that they felt they were included in the decisions when choice was possible, didn’t feel corralled into doing things one way or another, and were given real support throughout. So stop worrying about whether or not to get the epidural. Instead, start thinking about what might make you feel supported in labor, educate yourself about coping techniques during childbirth, and try to stay open to the possibilities.
Babble recommends From the Hips, by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris.