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Welcome to your Third Trimester (part 18) - Using a birthing pool

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You are 29 Weeks and 6 Days 71 days to go…

Your maximum blood volume won’t be reached for a few weeks yet, but your circulation is working harder than ever at this stage.

Your baby today

Increasingly sounds enter the uterus and your baby will respond to some of the loudest. The fluid all around her can have quite an effect on the sounds that your baby can hear: the effect is similar to how you might feel when you swim with your head under water.

Your blood volume is likely to be nearly a gallon and a half between weeks 25 and 35—an increase of about 25 percent. This increased blood volume means that your heart is pumping harder and faster. Your blood vessels are as relaxed as they can be by this stage of pregnancy, and will not stretch any further to accommodate this extra blood flow. You may notice that you sweat more, and that your skin feels hotter (this is the rosy glow that many women experience).

In addition to this extra blood, there is also a lot more fluid circulating around your body. This makes all your body tissues thicker. It’s common and normal for your face, fingers, and ankles to be puffy or swollen . However, since puffiness is also a sign of preeclampsia, it’s important to have your doctor to check this out.

Your face shape may change this trimester as you retain more fluid and gain weight.

… Doctor
Q: I’ve noticed that I get short of breath very easily. Should I be concerned?
A: No, when you’re pregnant, your lungs have to work much harder to meet your body’s increased oxygen needs. To help you take in more air, your ribs spread sideways and your lung capacity increases dramatically. This can make you feel breathless, particularly from mid-pregnancy.

In the last three months of pregnancy, most women find they get breathless even during mild exertion, which happens as the expanding uterus pushes up against the lungs. However, being breathless can also be a sign of anemia, which may need to be treated. Your breathing may start to get easier when your baby engages (moves down into your pelvis ready to be born) (see When your baby drops).

… Twins
Exercising safely

If you’re pregnant with twins, it’s recommended that you don’t do any vigorous or aerobic exercise in the third trimester. The last three months are particularly tiring so you probably won’t feel up to doing much anyway. You’ll also get bigger sooner than someone who is having a single baby, and your size may preclude you from doing certain activities.

If you do want to be active, go for a gentle walk or swim, or to a pregnancy yoga or Pilates class. If you want to do anything more vigorous than this in the third trimester, check with your doctor first.

Your doctor will be monitoring your babies’ progress and she may advise you on your level of activity if there is any slowdown in the babies’ growth and development.

Whatever activity you’re doing, always follow the guidelines for safe exercising .

You are 30 Weeks Exactly 70 days to go…

You probably won’t want to stop working just yet, but you may need to make some adjustments if you’re feeling very tired.

Your baby today

Does your baby start to feel tired? Certainly on some scans it can look as if she is. In fact, your baby actually spends most of the time in a state of sleep rather than full wakefulness: it seems that during pregnancy your baby does need to spend most of the time asleep.

Later on in the third trimester you may begin to feel more tired than usual. The strain on your body may begin to show itself—you may find yourself uncomfortable and easily fatigued. Things that never bothered you previously, such as standing for long periods of time or walking a lot, may get increasingly difficult. For example, your trip to and from work may tire you much more than it did previously. If that is the case, find out whether you can alter your hours to avoid traveling at the busiest times of the day and, if you find yourself traveling during rush hours, don’t be shy about asking someone to give up their seat on the train for you.

If there is a room in which you can rest at work, you may be able to take a short nap in the middle of the day or early afternoon, which might help to alleviate your fatigue a little.

You may want to discuss with your employer ways to make your job less physically demanding, or ask for help, for example if you need to carry heavy files or your job involves walking long distances. With a few adjustments you should be able to keep going until the start of your maternity leave, but above all, listen to your body: if you’re tired, rest; if your feet and legs hurt, sit down.

Using a birthing pool

Laboring and giving birth in water can not only relieve much of the pain, discomfort, and stress of childbirth, it can also induce relaxation and reduce blood pressure. Research shows that warm water on the lower back (the area of the spinal cord that receives the nerves from the lower abdominal region) can reduce labor pain, while the level of endorphins, or natural painkillers, rises in the same environment. Whether you choose a birthing pool or a warm bath, water is a great way to deal with contractions.

If you give birth in water, your baby’s umbilical cord will continue to provide her with the oxygen she needs, but she will have to be brought to the surface quickly to encourage her to breathe on her own.

Water birth should be done with your doctor’s supervision, and many birthing centers and hospitals now offer the option (see … Doctor). Make sure you include these details on your birth plan (see Making a birth plan). Using a birthing pool will not be recommended if your birth is considered to be high risk.

A growing number of hospitals and birthing centers offer birthing pools. If you’d like to have a water delivery, check the availability of a pool at your hospital when you tour the facility.

… Twins
Cesarean birth

You’re more likely to deliver twins by cesarean than a single baby . Many of these are elective: the decision is made in advance, and the mother doesn’t go into labor. A cesarean is major surgery, but for the babies it’s often the best way to arrive and a small price to pay for the mother.

Vaginal birth can be complicated for twins, especially the second twin who goes through two rounds of uterine contractions. It’s considered high-risk if the babies are premature.

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