You are 17 Weeks and 6 Days 155 days to go…

You might want to think about signing up for prenatal classes now since in many areas they get filled up well in advance.

Your baby today

In this image the whole baby is seen in one view. The legs, held straight, will now be kicking more strongly and, especially if you have had a baby before, you will be increasingly aware of these movements over the next few weeks.

Prenatal classes help to prepare you for the birth of your baby. They usually start in the sixth or seventh month. You’ll learn about the signs that you’re in labor; breathing and relaxation techniques; pain-relief options; and medical interventions. You’ll also be given practical advice on caring for your newborn baby, which can be invaluable if you’re a first-time parent.

Depending on where you live, there are various types of classes. These range from classes run by a nurse or other certified instructor at the hospital or classes run by organizations like Lamaze International (lamaze.org) or the Bradley Method (bradleybirth.com). Classes are a great way to meet other expectant parents, and by doing so you’ll gain an invaluable mutual support system through the rest of your pregnancy and the early weeks of parenting.

By attending prenatal classes with you, your partner can help to prepare for the labor and early weeks of parenting. Classes are also a good way for your partner to meet other dads-to-be. The significant role fathers can play during labor and in the early weeks of parenting is widely acknowledged, and as a result prenatal classes have become much more father-friendly.

Find a classmate

If you’re single, you don’t have to go it alone. There’s no reason why you can’t go to a class with a friend or relative—preferably the person who will be attending the birth. If you’d prefer not to do this, you could find out if there are any classes in your area for single expectant moms. You may feel more comfortable in this environment and you will get the opportunity to meet other women who are in the same position as you.

Don’t skip classes just because you’re single: they’re an invaluable way of learning about pregnancy, labor, and parenting

By going to classes you and your partner can practice and feel more confident about the techniques you’ll use in labor.

… Twins
Classes for two

Since twins are likely to arrive ahead of schedule, you should definitely look into signing up for prenatal classes now so that you can start them early. Besides, your belly could be very large toward the end, and you may feel less mobile and inclined to go. Because twins sometimes need special care, you should arrange a tour of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit too.

In some areas, there are special prenatal sessions for those having twins or more, often in the evenings. If your hospital doesn’t provide these, a neighboring hospital might. Ask your doctor.

You are 18 Weeks Exactly 154 days to go…

Is it a boy or a girl? You and your partner may want to start thinking about whether you would like to find out.

Your baby today

Like your own ear, your baby’s ear is made of soft and flexible cartilage. Although the outer ear is well developed at this stage, inner ear structures will not be mature enough to enable your baby to hear for about another five weeks.

The sex of your baby should now be apparent on an ultrasound scan, but you may not have this for a couple of weeks yet .

Whether your baby develops into a boy or a girl depends on the presence or absence of a Y chromosome. Males are XY and the Y chromosome instructs the reproductive glands (gonads) to become testes. These then produce testosterone and other hormones that inhibit the development of the female organs and in turn stimulate the normal development of the external male genitalia.

If there is no Y chromosome, the gonad becomes an ovary and the internal genitals are female by default; it’s not the ovary that dictates that the female reproductive organs will develop but the lack of testosterone. In the female the uterus is formed first and the vagina lengthens upward to meet it.

Some pregnant women will want to delay buying a complete set of clothes for the baby until they know the sex, but not everyone wants to settle for either pink or blue.

Think about: gender

Many women have a strong opinion about whether or not they want to find out the sex of their baby at the 20-week ultrasound, but others are ambivalent. If your partner has strong feelings one way or the other, you can choose to follow his lead. Otherwise, try to figure out your feelings by deciding if you want to choose two names (boy and girl) and get mostly yellow and green baby clothing at your shower, or if identifying with the baby’s gender will make these upcoming baby tasks more enjoyable for you.

… Mom
Q: Our 20-week scan is fast approaching. I want to know the baby’s sex but my husband doesn’t. What should we do?
A: When one person in a relationship wants something that is at odds with what his or her partner wants, tensions can arise.

Like you, I wanted to find out the sex of my baby but my partner didn’t. We both explained our reasons: I felt that knowing the sex would better help me prepare for the birth, both emotionally and practically; my partner said he wanted the surprise element of discovering the sex of the baby at the actual birth.

Talk to each other openly and hopefully you’ll be able to reach an agreement. Try not to let the issue get out of hand and consider backing down if necessary. It’s important that you feel united at this special time.

You may find either one of you doesn’t feel as strongly once you start talking. You could agree to find out but not tell anyone else. If you do find out, don’t forget the result is not 100 percent accurate.

The umbilical cord is growing thicker and stronger as it continues to transport blood and nutrients to your growing baby. Your baby is now bigger and heavier than the placenta.

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