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Pregnancy Week by Week : Week 28 (part 1) - The Placenta and Umbilical Cord

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1. How Big Is Your Baby?

Your baby weighs nearly 2¼ pounds (1kg). Crown-to-rump length is close to 10 inches (25cm). Total length is 14¾ inches (37cm).

2. How Big Are You?

You continue to grow. Sometimes it seems gradual. At other times, it may seem as though changes happen rapidly, as if overnight.

Your uterus is about 3¾ inches (8cm) above your bellybutton. If you measure from the pubic symphysis, it’s about 11 inches (28cm) to the top of the uterus. Your weight gain by this time should be between 17 and 24 pounds (7.7 and 10.8kg).

3. How Your Baby Is Growing and Developing

Until this time, the surface of baby’s developing brain has appeared smooth. Around week 28, the brain begins to form characteristic grooves and indentations on the surface. The amount of brain tissue also increases.

Your baby’s eyebrows and eyelashes may be present. Hair on baby’s head is growing longer. The baby’s body is becoming plumper and rounder because of increased fat underneath the skin. Before this time, baby had a thin appearance.

Just 11 weeks ago, baby weighed only about 3½ ounces (100g). Your baby has increased its weight more than 10 times in 11 weeks! In the last 4 weeks, from the 24th week of your pregnancy to this week, weight has doubled.

Changing Tastebuds

Some women complain of a bad taste in their mouth during pregnancy. It’s called dysgeusia and is a common condition. It is probably caused by pregnancy hormones, which can alter or eliminate taste. Some women experience a metallic or bitter taste, or lose taste for certain foods. The good news is this condition usually disappears during the second trimester. If you have dysgeusia, try some of the following techniques.

Tip for Week 28

Even though delivery is several weeks away, it isn’t too early to begin making plans for the trip to the hospital. This includes knowing how to reach your partner (keep all of his phone numbers with you). Also consider what you will do if he isn’t near enough to take you.
Who are potential drivers?
How do you get hold of them?
Make plans now!

• If sweets are too sweet, add a bit of salt to help cut sweetness in foods like canned fruit or jelly.

• Add lemon to water, drink lemonade or suck on citrus drops.

• Marinate fish, chicken or meat in soy sauce or citrus juice.

• Use plastic dinnerware; stainless steel utensils may increase a metallic taste.

• Brush your teeth often.

• Gargle with baking soda and water (¼ teaspoon of baking soda in 1 cup of water), which may help neutralize pH levels.

The Placenta and Umbilical Cord

The placenta plays a critical role in the growth, development and survival of the baby. The baby is attached by the umbilical cord to the placenta.

The placenta is involved in moving oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from baby. It’s also involved in nutrition and removal of waste products from the baby.

Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), produced by the placenta, is found in your bloodstream in measurable amounts within 10 days after fertilization. The placenta begins making estrogen and progesterone by the 7th or 8th week of pregnancy.

Two important cell layers, the amnion and the chorion, are involved in the development of the placenta and the amniotic sac. Development and function of the cell layers is complicated. However, the amnion is the layer around the amniotic fluid in which the fetus floats.

The placenta begins to form with cells that grow through the walls of maternal blood vessels and establish contact with your bloodstream without your blood and fetal blood mixing. (Fetal circulation is separate from yours.)

The placenta grows at a rapid rate. At 10 weeks, it weighs about ¾ ounce (20g). Ten weeks later, at 20 weeks gestation, it weighs almost 6 ounces (170g). In another 10 weeks, the placenta will have increased to 15 ounces (430g). At 40 weeks, it can weigh almost 1½ pounds (650g)!

Studies show a baby may spend a great deal of time in utero pulling and squeezing the umbilical cord.

Projections (villi) at the base of the placenta are firmly attached to the uterus. The villi absorb nutrients and oxygen from your blood and transport them to the baby through the umbilical vein in the umbilical cord. Waste products from the baby are brought through the umbilical arteries and transferred to the maternal bloodstream. In this way, baby gets rid of waste products.

At full term, a normal placenta is flat, has a cakelike appearance and is round or oval. It is about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20cm) in diameter and ¾ to 1¼ inches (2 to 3cm) thick at its thickest part. It weighs between 17½ and 24 ounces (500 to 650g), and is a red or reddish-brown color. Around the time of birth, the placenta may have white patches on it, which are calcium deposits. The umbilical cord attached to the placenta is about 22 inches (55cm) long and is usually white.

Placentas vary widely in size and shape. A placenta that is large (placentamegaly) may be found when a woman has syphilis or when a baby has erythroblastosis (Rh-sensitization). Sometimes it occurs without any obvious explanation. A small placenta may be found with intrauterine-growth restriction (IUGR).

The part of the placenta that attaches to the wall of the uterus has a beefy or spongy appearance. The side closest to the baby inside the amniotic sac is smooth and covered with amniotic and chorionic membranes.

In multiple pregnancies, there may be more than one placenta, or there may be one placenta with more than one umbilical cord coming from it. Usually with twins, there are two amniotic sacs, with two umbilical cords running to the fetuses from one placenta.

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