How unfair — that when you need it the most, you can't get it. You keep on telling yourself it's the last opportunity for a long, long time (at least until your baby's sleeping through the night). But you still can't get any. No, not sex, woman — sleep! Third-trimester insomnia strikes more than 75 percent of expectant moms — very tired expectant moms. All the hormonal changes, the midnight treks to the bathroom, the leg cramps, the heartburn that won't quit, the fact that you can't get comfortable when you're in bed with a watermelon where your tummy used to be, and the anxiety you're likely feeling about the impending birth of your baby (and the fact that you still haven't decided on a name for your baby) all contribute to your inability to catch some satisfying z's. Looking for ways to summon the sandman? Worrying about it won't help, and neither will staring at the clock watching the minutes tick by. Instead try a warm bath and perhaps a warm cup of milk before turning in, avoid exercising, eating, or drinking too close to bedtime, and solicit your partner for a massage (you deserve it!). If sleep still eludes you, read a book or listen to soothing music until drowsiness sets in. If nothing works, at least you can be comforted knowing that this may just be Mother Nature's way of getting you ready for the sleepless nights ahead.
BABY: Water Weight
This week your baby may be anywhere between 17 to 19 inches in length and weigh more than four and a half pounds. Your baby could grow a full inch more this week alone — especially if he or she has been on the shorter side. Weight gain can range from a third more growth to a full doubling before the big debut. The level of amniotic fluid in your uterus has reached its maximum, making it likely that you have more baby than fluid now. That's one reason why you're probably feeling lots of nudges and pushes — there's less liquid to cushion the blows. (Of course that means you're even closer to your baby now!). If your uterine walls had eyes, here's what you'd see: your fetus acting more and more like a baby, with his or her eyes closing during sleep and opening while awake. And because those uterine walls are becoming thinner, more light penetrates the womb, helping your baby differentiate between day and night (now if only baby can remember that difference on the outside!). And good news! Your baby has reached an important milestone about now: The development of his or her own immune system that (along with antibodies from you) will be able to provide protection from mild infections.
LOOKS: How Dry I Am
Feeling kinda crocodilian? Another side effect of your expanding body (and that belly that just keeps on going…and going…) is dry, itchy skin. Here are some soothing strategies: Moisturize early and often — look for moisturizers that have no dyes or perfumes (your skin is still extra-sensitive these days) and apply them when your skin is still damp to trap moisture in; wear lightweight cotton clothes that allow skin to breathe (especially helpful if you're feeling hot all over); switch to a dye-and-perfume-free detergent (probably a good idea anyway now that baby's almost here); and soak in an oatmeal bath.
EXTRA: Building a Better Brain
Studies suggest that infants born to mothers whose diets contain plenty of omega-3 fatty acids (DHA) have an edge in terms of early development. So if you eat your wild salmon, will your kid go to Harvard? Maybe, maybe not. But fish is a great source of DHA, which is critical to brain and vision development. (Almost all of baby's accumulation of DHA occurs during the last trimester.) DHA may also help prevent preterm labor and protect against postpartum depression. But haven't you heard that fish is unsafe for pregnant women? Actually, the FDA says you can eat up to 12 ounces (two average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are low in mercury, such as shrimp, tilapia, red snapper, salmon (wild is best, organic farmed next best), pollock, and catfish. Steer clear of swordfish, shark, and fresh tuna, which are more likely to contain toxins. Hate fish? Other DHA sources include algae-derived supplements (check your health food store and with your practitioner) and DHA eggs, available in most supermarkets.
DAD: Thinking for Two
She's always been the one who remembered everything (your parents' anniversary, the plans you had for next weekend, the meeting with the accountant you spaced on) and kept track of everything — wasn't she the one with car key radar? But suddenly, you may have noticed, she's the one forgetting meetings and appointments; she's the one who can't find her blue suit (because she didn't remember to pick it up at the cleaners); and she's the one who's turning the house upside down to locate her car keys. Welcome to Pregnancy Brain Fog — another seemingly random symptom triggered by pregnancy hormones. Instead of ragging on her for her forgetfulness, help her cope with it. Help her search for her keys (or better still, put a key collecting bowl at the front door), remember to pick up the dry cleaning so she doesn't have to, and casually mention at breakfast that important meeting she has this afternoon (before it slips her mind).