Pregnancy: Week - 28

How your baby is growing:

Between last week and this week your baby has produced literally billions of new neurons in his or her brain and is getting more intelligent and aware by the day! His or her eyelashes are now fully formed over eyes that open and close with ease as they are now fully un-fused. Rapid fat production under the skin has continued and the average baby is about fifteen inches tall and two and one fourth of a pound in weight by week twenty –eight. Inside the quickly developing brain, the newly formed adrenal glands are beginning to produce androgen and estrogen, which will begin to stimulate your milk to produce. It is possible that you have already been leaking. This is a step towards preparedness to feed your baby once he or she is born. The lungs which completed last week are now almost fully mature. There is little left to do now but grow, grow, grow.

How your body is changing:

Lower body and leg issues are highlighted this week with two new possible side effects of pregnancy; Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) and Sciatica. This is on top of all the re-occurring symptoms mentioned last week induced by the hormone imbalances of the third trimester. As you can guess many women find the final stretch the hardest to handle.

You may also want to know:

What is Restless Leg Syndrome?

Restless leg syndrome effects almost twenty percent of all pregnant women. It occurs not necessarily while you are sleeping but also while you are resting. It is characterized by an urge to move to relieve crawling, tingling, or burning sensations in your legs. As the name implies this primarily affects the legs though some women experience it in their arms as well. It believed Restless Leg Syndrome is caused by one or many of the following during pregnancy iron deficiency, folate deficiency, hormonal changes, and/or circulatory changes.

What can you do about it?

Not much, there are medications available for RLS however these are not approved for pregnant women. You can tell your doctor about it, he or she may prescribe an iron supplement if you are not already taking one. Try to avoid caffeine before bed, as well as lying in bed for long periods before attempting sleep. (Example: Watching television in bed.)

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a type of lower back pain that radiates through the lower back and buttocks down the legs and possibly even into the toes. It is often accompanied by numbness. Only about two percent of pregnant women experience true sciatica. It is commonly confused with just plain old lower back pain. True sciatica is caused by one of two things, one pressure from the weight of your uterus and baby presses on a nerve in the back called the sciatic nerve, or two, damage to a disc in the spine which inflames the tissue causing pressure on the same nerve.

What can you do about it?

First, tell you doctor. He or she will first determine whether what you’re experiencing is sciatica. Then you could be referred to a physical therapist or message specialist to try and remove the pressure or be told to give it some time. Most sciatica resolves itself within a few weeks. To cope with the pain in the meantime you can try warm baths and compresses, ice packs, and rest. Your doctor may also teach you some exercises to help improve the condition.

What to expect:

Unquestionably at this point your doctor will move you to biweekly visits. Some women really enjoy having more appointments with the doctors as it helps them track their progress and quickly have their concerns addressed in person. They don’t have to wonder whether their being paranoid and just shouldn’t call. Other women find it annoying to have to go in so often just to have some routine checks done.

Most doctors will do the following at your biweekly checks:

  • Check your blood pressure.
  • Measure your tummy (fundal height measurement) and feel the position of the baby.
  • Listen to the baby’s heart beat. (He or she will even let you listen!)
  • Get your weight and make sure you baby’s growth is on target
  • Test your urine for protein and/or bacteria
  • Address and concerns or questions you may have.

Some doctors will also re-test your blood around this week for problems like anemia and to confirm that you don’t have any infections or diseases that could harm your baby.

During one of the coming appointments (there isn’t an exact week so to speak for this one just third trimester) you’ll be given a StepB test also known as the GBS test. The GBS test is very simple. A swab is taken of cells from your lower vagina and rectum. (Some doctors even allow you to do this yours self you just drag cotton swab across the designated areas) It’s designed to test for group B streptococcus as the name implies.

Strep B is primarily harmless to adults however it can be transferred to the baby during a normal vaginal birth. The bacteria can cause severe side effects in newborns such as sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis. Around ten to thirty percent of women carry Strep B and its treatment for pregnancy is easy, simply antibiotics. You’ll take them orally from the day you are found to be GBS positive to your birth and then be given them in an IV during your labor to prevent transfer to your baby.

It’s extremely rare for a baby to still contract GBS after you’ve undergone antibiotic treatment, but your baby will still be monitored for a few days to be sure. If he or she is found to be positive your pediatrician will administer penicillin for about ten days which almost always clear the infection. Only five percent of these rare occurrences end in death or severe injury.