BODY: Shortness of Breath
Movin' on up, your uterus can now be felt four inches above your belly button. This means that your uterus is pushing all the internal organs that used to be there somewhere else. So your stomach feels like it's in your chest and your lungs feel like… hmmm… they don't even feel like they're there anymore — do they? That could explain why you're feeling a little spare on air lately, don't you think? Indeed, in an effort to provide spacious-enough accommodations for your soon-to-be bouncing baby boy or girl, your growing uterus has compressed your lungs, limiting their ability to fully expand when you take a breath and causing you to feel like you've just run a marathon when you've only climbed a flight of stairs. While this shortness of breath may feel very uncomfortable to you, your baby is blissfully unaware and unaffected. Your fetus gets all the oxygen it needs through the placenta. So relax and take a deep breath (if you can). That out-of-breath feeling may get better toward the end of your pregnancy, when your baby (and its uterine home) drops down into your pelvis in preparation for delivery. Until then, be sure to stand as straight as you can (given the weight you're carrying around) and sleep propped up or on your side so that your lungs have more space to… well, breathe.
BABY: Thumbs Up
As far as growth goes, your baby's still on a roll, measuring an impressive 18 inches and weighing in at more than three pounds. You can still expect your baby to gain at least three to five pounds, possibly more, before you two meet. Your baby's brain is working overtime these days, developing faster than ever. Connections between individual nerve cells are growing at a frenetic clip, and your baby can now perceive information from all five senses. Sure, your baby can't smell anything right now, but that's only because he or she is still submerged in amniotic fluid and needs to be breathing air to get a whiff of anything. Lucky for you — and your baby — yours will be one of the very first scents your baby breathes in, a scent that will quickly become his or her very favorite. So what's your little dove doing all day while you're busy feathering your nest for his or her arrival? Making faces, hiccupping, swallowing, breathing, pedaling with little hands and feet along your uterine wall, and even sucking his or her thumb. In fact, some babies suck their thumbs so vigorously while in the womb that they're born with a callus on their thumb (what a little sucker!).
EXTRA: Basking in the Afterglow?
Parental lovemaking and orgasm can have an interesting effect on babies in the womb, as you may have noticed. Some babies are very quiet after their parents have a session in the sack (rocked to sleep by the rhythmic movement, perhaps) while others become frisky themselves (hey, where's the party?). Both responses are completely normal and in no way indicate that baby is aware of the goings-on…just that he or she is having fun going along for the ride. So keep on enjoying your sex life — and your orgasms — as much as you like. And for as long as you can (which, with your practitioner's approval and a few advanced Twister-type moves, can be right up until delivery day). After all, pretty soon making love with a baby in the house won't be quite so easy or convenient.
DAD: Who, Me?
Abdominal pain? Leg cramps? Cravings for ice cream? You might be experiencing "Couvade syndrome," a common condition in which the male partner experiences pregnancy-like symptoms. Rationalize the cause — sympathy (you wish you could feel her pain, and so you do), anxiety (you're stressed about becoming a father), or jealousy (she's getting center stage, you'd like to share it) — and take action to counteract it. Find other ways of expressing your sympathy, preferably ones that give her a chance to rest, such as talking about the anxiety with your partner and other fathers, or getting more involved with the pregnancy so you won't feel left out. Keep in mind this other possible cause: Men (and other males of the animal kingdom) experience surges in female hormones when their mates are pregnant, as well as right after delivery — which could be nature's way of bringing out the nurturer in you.