This month your uterus will expand to midway between your navel and breasts. Your baby will become increasingly active, especially in the second half of the month. By the end of your 28th week, you'll have completed 70 percent of your pregnancy. The homestretch is near! Here's an overview of what's happening and where.
This month your blood pressure will probably go up, returning to roughly where it was before you were pregnant. In addition, you may feel a fluttering or pounding sensation around your heart. It may feel as if your heart has skipped a beat. This feeling may worry you, but it usually doesn't signify anything serious. This sensation often lessens in the later months of pregnancy.
Still, if you have this feeling, tell your health care provider about it, especially if you're also having chest pain or shortness of breath. Your health care provider may want to run some tests to further evaluate your condition.
Stimulated by the hormone progesterone, your lung capacity is continuing to increase this month. This change in your respiratory system allows your blood to carry oxygen in and carbon dioxide out at an increased rate. As a result, you may be continuing to breathe slightly faster and experiencing some shortness of breath.
Progesterone is continuing to slow the movement of food through your digestive system this month, and your expanding uterus is continuing to crowd and press on your intestines. As a result, you're likely to continue experiencing heartburn or constipation, or both.
The milk-producing glands inside your breasts are continuing to grow larger this month, in preparation for breast-feeding. You may notice that the tiny, bump-like skin glands encircling your areolas are more prominent now, too. This is another way your body is preparing for breast-feeding. When the time comes, these glands will secrete oils to moisturize and soften the skin around your nipples and areolas. This will help keep your nipples from cracking and chafing from the demands of breast-feeding.
This month your uterus will reach roughly the midway point between your navel and breasts. By the time everything is said and done, it will occupy the area from your pubic area to the bottom of your rib cage.
Your baby will probably be increasingly active this month, particularly in the second half of the month. For many babies, the most active time is between 27 and 32 weeks. With this increased activity, you may have trouble telling the difference between practice contractions, true contractions and your baby's kicks or punches.
If you're concerned, remember a couple of things. False labor contractions (Braxton-Hicks) seem to have no rhyme or reason. They vary in length and strength and occur on an irregular schedule, if you can even call it that. True labor contractions follow a pattern. They get longer, stronger and closer together. Plus, true contractions tend to radiate throughout your abdomen and lower back. False contractions tend to be concentrated in one area, usually the top of your uterus or your lower abdomen and groin.
If you're having contractions that concern you, contact your health care provider. This is especially important if your contractions become painful or if you have more than six in an hour. Regular contractions at this stage of your pregnancy may be a sign of preterm labor.
Your urine flow is continuing to be slow this month, due to your expanding uterus and relaxed muscles in the tubes carrying urine from the kidneys to the bladder. As a result, you're at continued risk of developing a urinary tract infection. If you're urinating more frequently and also experiencing burning, pain, fever or a change in the odor or color of your urine, you may have an infection. Contact your health care provider. Urinary tract infections are a common cause of preterm labor.
Your bones, muscles and joints
The ligaments supporting your pelvic bones are continuing to become more elastic this month. Ultimately, this will make it easier for your pelvis to expand during childbirth so that your baby can pass through. Now, however, lack of the usual support from these ligaments increases your risk of back strain.
The joints in the pelvis commonly hurt with this newfound flexibility as well. This pain is in the middle-front of your pelvis or on either side of the midline of your back.
If you haven't had back pain up to this point, you may start to have it this month. Back pain affects half of all pregnant women and typically begins between the fifth and seventh months of pregnancy.
You're probably continuing to curve your lower spine backward to compensate for how your center of gravity has shifted under the weight of your baby. If you didn't do this, you might fall over. This change in posture puts a strain on your back muscles and ligaments, and it may be causing back pain.
You may be continuing to notice increased vaginal discharge this month, a side effect of pregnancy hormones on the cells in your vagina. If it's thin and white with little or no odor, there's no cause for concern. If it's greenish or yellowish, strong smelling or accompanied by redness, itching or irritation of the vulva, see your health care provider. You may have a vaginal infection, also one of the side effects of pregnancy hormones. But don't be alarmed. Vaginal infections are common in pregnancy and can be treated.
This month you'll probably continue to gain around a pound a week, for a total of about 4 pounds. If you're concerned about your weight gain, remember this: Most of the weight you're gaining is not fat. It's mostly the weight of your baby, your placenta, your amniotic fluid and the fluid accumulating in your own body tissues.
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