All About Baby
Even if your bowels aren’t quite regular these days, your baby may be settling into a regular routine — more active at night, for instance, while quieter during the day. All of her internal systems are in place, even if they do need more time to mature. Her vestibular system — the area in the brain responsible for sensing movement — is one of the first parts of the brain to mature and it is already actively sensing all your movements. At the same time, Baby’s hearing continues to develop and sharpen. Studies show that infants who are exposed to certain loud noises in the womb (like dog barks or the dryer beeping) are less likely to be startled by them once they are born.
This week marks an important milestone — if Baby were born this week, she would have a chance at survival. According to the March of Dimes, of all babies born at 23 weeks, 25 to 35 percent survive. This number goes up considerably when you add just a couple weeks: roughly 50 to 70 percent of all babies born at 24 to 25 weeks survive. And 90 percent of all babies born at 26 to 27 weeks survive.
All About You
That’s not a baby in there, it’s an amateur boxer pummeling your guts. Her punches, jabs, and kicks are so frequent now that your family and friends can see them (and your internal organs and rib cage are taking a beating). Since there’s still room to move, that little guy or gal is using it all!
Somewhere around now, you may have an internal exam to check your cervix for risk of preterm labor. Don’t fret — though that’s easier said than done. Pregnancy tends to heighten and rollercoaster your emotions: the worry becomes a full-on anxiety attack, the happy feelings become unstoppable elation. And all these ups and downs (plus the sore ribs) have a not-so-good effect on your sleep, which is why you’re reading this at 4:30 in the morning.
This Week: Headed for Bed Rest?
Wait — was that a contraction? Roughly seven percent of all pregnant women experience preterm labor — sometimes in the second but more often in the third trimester. Any contractions that cause the cervix to open before week 37 are considered preterm labor.
A lot of times managing early contractions is as easy as drinking more water and going to bed early. But if your labor pains are more severe — or if you have other complications — you might be headed for bed rest. With your feet raised and your body relaxed, there’s less pressure on your cervix. Lying down also aids blood flow, making it easier for your heart to do its thing.
When bed rest alone doesn’t prevent preterm labor pains, there are drugs. And if drugs don’t work, you may be hospitalized so you can be under constant care.
While it might sound sort of nice to lie in bed all day eating bonbons, watching TV, and checking email, the truth is that bed rest gets old pretty quick. If you find yourself headed for bed rest, be sure to keep our bed rest survival guide by your side.
Q & A
Got questions about Week 23? Other women have asked this…
Q: I’m pregnant and experiencing some vaginal discharge. Could I have an infection or is this normal?
Pregnancy can induce several different types of vaginal discharge, and most of the time, these discharges are normal. Increased blood flow to your vagina coupled with increased estrogen can cause you to experience a whitish, mucousy discharge known as leukorrhea. Read more about vaginal discharge during pregnancy.
Q: I’m afraid of getting stretch marks. What can I do to avoid them or help them go away?
Stretch marks (or striae) are an unpleasant by product of pregnancy for many women. Rapid stretching of the skin causes these initially red or purple marks. In time your stretch marks will diminish and become silvery or white in appearance. They should also become smaller or less pronounced, but won’t ever completely go away. Read more about treating and preventing stretch marks.
Your Relationship with Baby
The first few months of fatherhood can often be the most difficult. Your baby arrives, and along with him or her comes expectations of what being a father will be like. Many of these expectations involve holding your baby and immediately feeling a strong connection and a powerful sense of love. While that will undoubtedly happen, it may take a bit longer to connect than you originally thought. Instead of a few days, it can sometimes take a few months.
Even once your baby is born, you might feel a little empty inside. Of course you know the baby you’re holding is yours, but he or she may not yet feel like your baby. (You know that you love your baby, but you just may not quite feel it yet.) This isn’t unusual, and often fathers find themselves feeling afraid, stressed by financial pressures, and exhausted from lack of sleep. This can all lead to many new dads feeling inadequate or useless as fathers. These difficult feelings can be exacerbated if you’re working outside the home while your spouse is taking care of Baby full-time.
The sad truth is many fathers have this experience but are afraid to talk about it. A lack of discussion can foster a sense of shame and may promote a feeling that bonding confirms a “bad” father (or mother). Instead of getting upset and giving up, strive to remain involved and you’ll lay the groundwork for developing a bond with your baby. (Know that if you experience these feelings, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad father or that you don’t or can’t love your child.)
In time, you and Baby will build a distinct and unbreakable connection. One day, you will look at your little one’s face and see a certain expression or hold her, and something will flutter in your chest. Before you know it, you will feel such a strong connection you’ll have trouble remembering life when you didn’t.