Four weeks to go until the due date. During the next few weeks, the weight of baby will shift downward relieving some of the shortness of breath associated with the upward growth of the uterus. While this can leave a pregnant woman feeling as if she has enough wind to run a marathon, the relief comes at a price. That marathon will be run to and from the bathroom. The downshift in weight leaves very little space for storage in the bladder. The fetus continues to collect fat with dimpling starting on knees and elbows.
Multiple fetuses weigh about 5 pounds at this point. The average twin weighs five pounds five ounces at birth and is born between weeks 36 and 37. It will not be long now for the woman expecting multiples.
The body is making some rapid changes at this point. Baby weight may be shifting downward and Braxton Hicks contractions are coming more frequently. Increased blood pressure and fluid retention are also common in the last month of pregnancy, but will be watched closely by the caregiver, as they are also signs of preeclampsia.
False labor and true labor need to be discussed with a health care provider during the next prenatal visit. False labor symptoms are typically the same as active labor, but contractions are not patterned and they do not work to change the cervix. At home, pregnant women cannot check for cervical progression so they will need to clock contractions and write down the frequency and duration for more than an hour.
Take this time to support your pregnant partner and rest. Next week is filled with more to-do lists so this week should be one of contemplation and sleep. It is important to remember these tips – all dads are nervous, baby poop is not toxic and spit-up is normal and non-lethal.
Understanding the signs of labor is important at this stage of pregnancy. Common signs of labor include abdominal weight shift, bloody show, breaking of the bag of waters, and change in cervix (effacement and dilation).
Talking to the doctor every week means more chances to ask questions. Continue to write them down because pregnant women tend to lose track of though easily during the last weeks of gestation. There are no dumb questions and asking is the only way a pregnant woman will know the answer.