29 weeks pregnant
By week 29 your baby is starting to lay down lots of fat – and you’ll probably feel like you are, too, with your bump expanding at a slightly alarming rate. Amazingly, though, your baby will double in size between now and birth, so there’s still a way to go. If you’re already feeling like you’re ready to put your feet up and get the box sets out, there’s good news – week 29 is the first week from which you are allowed to start your maternity leave!
Your baby at 29 weeks
Your baby is really starting to fill out now. At 29 weeks he will look pink with those chubby contours that give him a baby shape and the downy hair on his head has been ditched in favour of proper hair – this will have colour although, like his eyes, it can change after birth.
Here’s what else is changing in there this week:
- Your baby's brain *is still hard at work with *nerve cells reaching out to meet other nerve cells to form the intricate systems of wiring that determine who we are and what our potential is, and control what our body does.
- Increasingly, your baby's brain will be able to control his breathing and temperature – a vital skill. The complex wiring and connections that the brain has to grow mean it takes a while for him to develop the control mechanisms he needs. How fast he will breathe for example, will change when he is born, depending how hot he is (we don't pant like dogs but we breathe more shallowly when it's very hot).
- His lungs are coming on brilliantly. Most of his smaller airways are ready and he has more of the little air sacs that branch out at the end of them. They will increase in number until he is eight, which is why respiratory problems in children often get better as they get older.
- He begins to make surfactant, which is hugely important. It is made in the cells that line the lungs and coats the air sacs in a fine fluid. This increases the surface area inside the air sacs so her lungs are made elastic and he can breathe in and out without his lungs collapsing. If your baby is born before 35 weeks he may not make enough surfactant and he'll be given steroids to encourage him to make more.
- Your baby will still turn the odd somersault but, increasingly, he will get crowded in your womb and his movements will be restricted. But he won't move less, he just gets more forceful – you can sometimes see what looks like a foot or fist sticking up through your abdominal wall.
- Your baby's bones will be storing calcium and other minerals that make them hard and strong, and they will now be the main supplier of red blood cells, which carry oxygen and nutrients round the body.
- If you are having a boy, his testicles will be moving from higher up in his abdomen down to their rightful place in the scrotum.
- Your baby is now gaining more weight than length. Between week 24 and week 37, he will pile on the grams at a rate of 15g a day. He's getting chubbier and soon fat will make up 8% of his weight.
What size is the baby at 29 weeks?
This week, your baby is about 38cm long – about the size of a butternut squash
How is your body changing at 29 weeks pregnant?
One of the weirdest but most wonderful things that happens to your body around this time is that your breasts start producing colostrum as they get ready for breastfeeding your baby. You may notice that you are producing some clear fluid from your nipples, especially if you are hot, so it often happens in the bath or, rather awkwardly, while having sex.
Colostrum is the creamy fluid your baby lives off for the first few days of her life before your milk supply is triggered into action. It is rich in sugars, protein and, importantly, antibodies – all the ingredients your baby needs for a flying start.
You may feel great right up until the time you give birth and maybe even then, who knows? But you're likely to need more rest as the weeks go on. This is the late pregnancy tiredness kicking in. It feels different to the ‘wiped out’ feeling of the first trimester but is no less exhausting, and is exacerbated by your being heavier, hotter and having an enormous lump of a baby to carry around with you.
It’s also becoming harder to sleep at night with pressure from the baby on your bladder waking you up to go to the loo. Make sure you always go for a wee last thing at night and once in bed, lie on your side with a pillow between your legs – this may make you more comfortable and help you sleep longer. A banana-shaped bean bag pillow is great but can be expensive, and an ordinary pillow will do the job.
If you have a toddler, ask if anyone can come and look after them in the daytime so you can have a bit of a nap and catch up on some of your broken nights.
Pregnancy niggles in week 29
Everything works a bit more slowly during pregnancy, which can have some unpleasant side effects. As well as your digestion slowing down and causing constipation and piles, your circulation is slowed down which can contribute to varicose veins.
You may remember your mother having varicose veins. Now you know it was probably your fault. A baby in the womb presses on the veins in your pelvis that collect blood from the veins in your legs. As a result, the blood doesn't leave your legs as quickly as it used to and pools there instead. Additionally, the hormones in pregnancy affect the valves in your leg veins that should help push the blood up the leg. Consequently, your leg veins start bulging and they may itch and ache.
If this is your first pregnancy, they are highly likely to go (well, mostly) a few months after birth. If it isn't, then they're likely to get worse with each pregnancy and stay behind afterwards.
There isn't much you can do to stop them – some people suggest support stockings (chose maternity ones as others may be too tight and restrict your circulation), others suggest that regular swimming or other exercise can help. Another tip that may improve things is not to cross your legs when you're sitting and, if possible, raise them higher than the level of your heart.
Things to think about during week 29 of pregnancy
Pregnancy is an emotional time, even when everything is going well. You’re likely to find yourself crying into your dinner because you’ve remembered you ‘just really like pasta and it’s made you so happy’… If you’re finding any aspect of pregnancy difficult, though, hormones can make it feel even more raw.
Everyone pats your stomach and asks how you are. But you may still feel quite lonely. The changes your body goes through and the extraordinary process of growing a baby inside you can make you feel ‘separate’ from the rest of the human race at times. You may feel preoccupied by being pregnant and the physical changes it brings. Some women also feel strange that their partner or childless friends have no real idea of what they're going through. Try to talk to your partner (if you have one) and concentrate a bit on your relationship.
Weight gain in pregnancy can be a tricky issue to cope with for many women. You may not like your pregnant body. If you are used to being thin or exercising a lot and feel you can't be or do either, then you may resent your body. While you don’t want to pile on too many pounds and increase your risk of things like gestational diabetes, it is important that you eat well for both you and your baby.
Some women feel liberated by having a big belly and enjoy not having to worrying about their tummy hanging out for a while. If you’re feeling a bit underconfident, perhaps treat yourself to some new maternity clothes to make you feel a bit more ‘Fertility Goddess’ than ‘fat and lumpy’.