Women's Healthcare Topics
James Brann, MD. Ob/Gyn

29 Weeks Pregnant

Pregnant Belly Changes

At 29 weeks pregnant your uterus is now 3 to 4 inches above your navel. With your enlarging belly and third trimester aches and pains, you definitely look and feel quite pregnant.

From now on, you should expect your belly to get larger and even rounder. Your baby is now focusing his or her attention on plumping up and gaining more weight in this final stretch of gestation.

Healthy and Nutritious Diet
Although now you are in the final home stretch, just remember to continue to eat a healthy and nutritious diet. To give your baby an added boost, aim to get quality proteins (such as lean meats, fish, cheese, legumes, grains, and eggs) into every meal. Proteins are important for your baby’s growth, so this is an important aspect of your nutrition in the third trimester.

If you are a vegetarian, be sure to try to find non-meat protein substitutes. For example, you can eat a whole-wheat peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or a salad made with black beans.

All pregnant women should make sure that they get adequate calcium in their diet in the third trimester. Calcium helps build your baby’s bones and teeth. Ossification (the transformation of your baby’s bones from cartilage to bone) continues to occur in the third trimester, so it’s essential that you consume dairy products in this last leg of the third trimester.

Your baby relies on you for his or her supply of nutrition, so it's important to continue to eat a balanced diet.

If you're suffering from constipation, you may want to boost your intake of fiber. Choose fiber-containing foods that are also antioxidant sources for an even healthier pregnancy. These include beans, legumes, fruits, and berries.

Maternity Leave
If you haven't already, now is the perfect time to discuss your maternity leave options with your employer. If your company has more than 50 employees, you are entitled to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law allows full-time employees to take 12 weeks of unpaid family leave after the birth of a new baby. If you don't qualify for FMLA, you should make an appointment with the human resources department to see if you can use a combination of sick days, personal days, and vacation time for your new baby.

Weight Gain

Your pregnancy weight gain at 29 weeks pregnant may be between 22 and 23 pounds, if you are a normal weight. You will continue to gain a pound or two with each week that passes in your pregnancy.

In the third trimester, you should expect to gain at least ten more pounds before your baby is born. Your recommended weight gain during pregnancy is between 25 and 35 pounds for the average-sized woman. For the health of you and your baby, you should try to aim for that weight gain target.

Pregnancy Health Section

Look Out for Signs of Preterm Labor!

From now on, you should be on the lookout for any signs of pre-term labor (labor before 37 weeks). Pre-mature babies tend to have more problems than other babies, including learning and behavioral delays and problems with their breathing, nervous system, eyes and ears.

When diagnosed early, your doctor may be able to stop your contractions and improve your baby's chances of staying in the womb for a while longer. However, in other cases, your baby will have to be delivered. Luckily, today's neonatal intensive care units are advanced enough to take care of preemies.

In fact, if your baby were born during pregnancy week 29, he or she would have a 90 percent chance of survival. The further along you are in your pregnancy, the more developed your baby is and the higher his or her survival rate outside the womb.

You should call your doctor or healthcare provider immediately if you notice any of the following:

  • Changes in vaginal discharge. (More watery, more mucus-like, or bloody).

  • Increase in your vaginal discharge.

  • Pelvic or lower abdominal pressure or pain.

  • Constant, dull backache.

  • Mild abdominal cramps. Can be accompanied by diarrhea.

  • Regular contractions, or uterine tightening. These can be painless.

  • Trickle or leakage of fluid. Or your water breaks with a big gush.

Since many of the warning signs of preterm labor can be confused with common pregnancy symptoms in the third trimester, such as Braxton Hicks contractions and lower back pain, you should call your doctor or healthcare provider if you experience any of these. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Restless Leg Syndrome During Pregnancy

Up to 25 percent of expectant mothers develop restless leg syndrome (RLS) in their third trimester of pregnancy. You may be lying down or sitting when you suddenly have an irresistible need to move your legs. Some women describe this sensation as a creepy, crawling, or tingly sensation inside their foot, calf, or upper leg. Sometimes, you may have cramping or pain along with these tingly sensations. Rubbing and moving your legs may give you temporary relief that quickly goes away once you lie or sit back down.

Your symptoms may be less noticeable during the daytime hours, but they can become more bothersome in the evening or at night, especially around bedtime. The severity of RLS varies from person to person, and it can range from uncomfortable to downright painful.

Restless leg syndrome during pregnancy may make it difficult for you to fall asleep or to stay asleep. It may increase your exhaustion and fatigue.

No one understands why there is an increased risk of restless leg syndrome during pregnancy, but it is believed that iron deficiency, folate deficiency, and hormonal changes may aggravate it.

Unfortunately, most of the drugs used to treat RLS are not safe to use during pregnancy. Other ways to relieve your symptoms include adding more iron foods into your diet, such as red meat, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), leafy green vegetables (like spinach), and prune juice. You want to drink a glass of orange juice with your meals; since Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron better.

You may want to also ask your partner to give you a leg massage. Warm and cold packs will also lessen the sensations of restless leg syndrome.


Are you thinkg of breastfeeding?

As you begin your third trimester, you might start thinking about whether or not you want to breastfeed your newborn baby. Breastfeeding offers your baby many advantages. It is one of the most important things you can do for your baby. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, human milk is the best food for all newborn infants, particularly premature or sick newborn babies. The Academy recommends that, if at all possible, you breastfeed your baby for the first 12 months of life. In many countries, it isn't uncommon to breastfeed children for the first 1-3 years of life!

Why is breast milk so good for your baby? For one, it is constantly changing and adapting to your baby's needs as he grows. It is also easily digested by your baby, so it may reduce colic and spitting up. Here are some other benefits of breastfeeding:

  • Breastfeeding may reduce the number of food allergies your baby is susceptible to.

  • Breastfeeding provides your newborn baby with natural antibodies that help combat colds and other illnesses.

  • Eczema is typically much less common in breastfeeding infants.

Breastfeeding also has many benefits for moms. Breastfeeding, for example, encourages uterine contractions that help contract the uterus after delivery, reducing a woman's risk of postpartum hemorrhage. In addition, breastfeeding may help provide natural contraception for women in the weeks following delivery. Breastfeeding may also help facilitate postpartum weight loss. Also, it is a known fact that breastfeeding helps protect you from developing breast cancer.

Many women enjoy breastfeeding because it helps establish a nurturing bond right at the time of birth. Most new mothers can start breastfeeding within minutes of giving birth!

In some situations, it may not be possible to breastfeed. If this is the case or if you choose not to breastfeed, there are many varieties of formula available that will provide your baby with the nutrients he needs. If you have questions about breastfeeding, there are numerous resources available to help you.

Most hospitals provide new mothers with a meeting with a lactation consultant after delivery. A lactation consultant can talk with you about breast care, proper latch on, and feeding positions. A lactation consultant may also be invaluable if you find yourself having trouble during the first week or two after delivery.

Some women prefer to breastfeed exclusively initially and then supplement with either pumped milk or formula as their baby gets older. If you plan on introducing a bottle to your newborn baby, experts recommend that you do so within 2 to 3 weeks after birth, though not before. If you wait too long your newborn baby may decide that they never want to take a bottle. If you try too soon, your baby may experience what is referred to as 'nipple confusion'. Your baby may have a hard time latching on or switching back between bottle and breast.

Remember that you are learning as much as your newborn baby in the first few weeks. If your baby doesn't seem interested in a bottle at first, try again in a few days. Eventually most babies make the transition smoothly. Introducing one bottle per day may be a nice way to include your partner in the bonding process and allow them to feed the baby once per day. You should enjoy a light nap during these times, as you will be hard pressed to get any sleep in the early weeks after your newborn baby arrives!

Baby Section

Growth and Development of Baby

At 29 weeks pregnant, your baby now weighs 2.5 pounds and is at least 15 inches long from head to heel! Isn't that simply amazing how fast your baby has grown in roughly seven months?

Your baby's brain continues to mature, and the surface is starting to develop groves. In the next few weeks, your baby's brain will be busy developing billions of neurons!

Your baby's sleep-wake cycle is now well developed, but he or she spends most of his or her time sleeping. Your baby has started to develop REM (rapid-eye-movement) sleep, or the dreaming stage of sleep. Don't you wonder what your little bundle of joy is dreaming about?

Fine, downy hair called lanugo covers your baby's body. Since your unborn baby does not have a lot of body fat, lanugo hair grows to insulate and regulate baby's body temperature. Sometimes it is shed in utero, and in other cases, it falls off during the first few weeks of your baby's life. If this fine hair is swallowed by the baby in utero, it eventually comes out as meconium, or the baby's first poop!

From now until your baby's birth, your little one will be packing on the body fat and weight.

Your baby's bones are now fully developed, but they are still soft and pliable. The skull will continue to be soft and flexible until the very end, so that your baby can easily go through the birth canal. (next week)


Doctor's Corner

Pregnancy Week by Week - Women's Healthcare Topics