Your Pregnancy: Week 35
Your doctor is probably going to test you for group B strep soon, which is a bacterium naturally found in 10 to 35 percent of all healthy women (not a sexually transmitted disease), unrelated to the type of strep that gives you a sore throat. It causes no symptoms and no problems for adults, but it can be very serious for a newborn that might pick up the infection on his/her way out of the birth canal, causing blood infection or meningitis. If you test positive (after a simple cotton-swab smear of the vagina, cervix and rectum), all it means is you’ll be administered IV antibiotics during labor. This is something to bring up in the office if your doctor hasn’t mentioned it yet.
Your baby is about done growing length-wise (reaching around 20 inches this week), but he/she will continue to pack on the pounds until delivery. Rest assured that most of the physical development is complete, and all that’s left is for the lungs to mature and the body fat to keep piling on.
- Have a group B strep test.
- If you have certain medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes or gestational hypertension, or if there is a complication like a lack of amniotic fluid, a lack of baby movement, or you go past your due date, your practitioner will schedule a nonstress test to make sure your baby is doing well.
- Wrap up projects at work and pass assignments and responsibilities to your colleagues. If you’ve decided to work until the end, take time to rest as much as possible – meaning if you need to take a sick day, take a sick day.
- Review your birth plan at your next prenatal appointment and make any needed adjustments.
Advice from Dr. Shari E. Brasner
Pregnant women often experience carpal tunnel syndrome, an ailment that involves the tendinous sheath that wraps around the wrist below the skin. As the sheath expands with water it turns into a kind of sponge, and the buildup of fluid sometimes compresses the underlying nerves. Carpal tunnel syndrome primarily affects fingers 2 through 4 – the index finger, the middle finger, and ring finger – causing painful stiffness that usually gets worse as the day progresses. Generally speaking, this is not a serious condition, and just about 99.9 percent of cases will resolve after delivery. I try to tell women to hang on, that they will feel better soon enough. But if the stiffness and pain are severe and debilitating, I recommend a wrist splint that can be worn at night.”
Babble recommends Dr. Brasner’s pregnancy book, Advice from a Pregnant Obstetrician.
Mom-To-Mom Advice: Body Anxiety
What will become of your privates once the birth is over? As you look down at your ever-growing belly, it’s pretty common to think: No way. It can be hard to imagine, but the vagina was meant for this. Its muscles and tissues are elastic – they can stretch out and stretch back, kind of like a snake swallowing a rabbit – hard to believe but possible.
It may help to remember that for the majority of labor, the baby is not in the vagina but still in the uterus, waiting for the cervix to soften and open. Only at the pushing stage – typically the shortest phase of labor – does the baby begin to make his or her way down the birth canal (the fancy birthing term for vagina) and out. The very, very shortest part of labor is crowning – when the baby’s head emerges. The head comes out relatively quickly, but it takes at least a few pushes (in first-time labors anyway), giving the perineum time to stretch.
Worrying about being cut or torn is no fun, but keep in mind that most tears are superficial and heal quite quickly. Routine episiotomies – the cutting of the skin and muscle between the vagina and the anus – are no longer recommended, so most doctors don’t perform them.
There are things you can do to increase your chances of minimal vaginal scathing – any one of the options below can help.
- Talk to your provider about your concerns. Routine interventions increase the chances of forceps or vacuum deliveries, which often require episiotomies. Ask her what her position is about these issues, and whether she thinks there is anything you can do to avoid them.
- If you can, push in a gravity-friendly position such as a squat or on all fours; this allows the head to present in a way that will put the least amount of pressure on the perineum.
- Do some good old kegels, throughout pregnancy and beyond…
- Slow down a speedy pushing phase – this is often not necessary in a first-time labor, but if you’re having a fast second stage, your caregiver can help you breathe to slow things down a little.
- Massage and compresses during the pushing stage have been shown to be helpful. The evidence that massage in pregnancy – stretching the perineum with warm oil to the point of discomfort – is not totally conclusive. Some studies say it helps, others say it’s useless.
Babble recommends From the Hips, by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris.
Read more about Week 35 at BabyZone’s Pregnancy Guide!