Your baby sleeps and wakes at regular intervals now. If you feel any tiny, rhythmic movements, they're probably harmless baby hiccups – enjoy the tickle! Your baby can open and close his eyes and may suck on his fingers. Your baby's brain is very active now. While his lungs are still immature, they would be able to function with medical help if he were born now.
This week, your baby weighs almost 2 pounds (about the size of a head of cauliflower) and is about 14 1/2 inches long with her legs extended. She's sleeping and waking at regular intervals, opening and closing her eyes, and perhaps even sucking her fingers. With more brain tissue developing, your baby's brain is very active now. While her lungs are still immature, they would be capable of functioning – with a lot of medical help –if she were to be born now. Chalk up any tiny rhythmic movements you may be feeling to a case of baby hiccups, which may be common from now on. Each episode usually lasts only a few moments, and they don't bother her, so just relax and enjoy the tickle.
The second trimester is drawing to a close, and as your body gears up for the final lap, you may start noticing some new symptoms. Along with an aching back, for example, you may find that your leg muscles cramp now and then. They're carrying extra weight, after all, and your expanding uterus is putting pressure on the veins that return blood from your legs to your heart as well as on the nerves leading from your trunk to your legs.
Unfortunately, the cramps may get worse as your pregnancy progresses. Leg cramps are more common at night but can also happen during the day. When a cramp strikes, stretching the calf muscle should give you some relief.
Straighten your leg and then gently flex your toes back toward your shin. Walking for a few minutes or massaging your calf sometimes helps, too.
It may be the furthest thing from your mind right now, but it's not too soon to think about postpartum birth control. You'll want to make some decisions about it before your baby arrives. If you're considering a tubal ligation, be aware that some insurers, including Medicaid and other federal programs, require you to sign a consent form at least 30 days beforehand if your procedure is to be covered by insurance. So if you'd like the option of having the surgery during your postpartum hospital stay, don't wait too much longer to discuss it with your doctor or midwife. (You can still change your mind later.)
So many aches, pains, and strange feelings arise during pregnancy that it can be hard to decide what's normal and what warrants a call to your doctor or midwife. To complicate matters further, some symptoms may be more or less urgent depending on your particular situation or health history and on how far along you are in your pregnancy. Here's a rundown of symptoms that could be signs of problems. If you have any of these complaints, call your healthcare provider immediately:
Before you reach 37 weeks:
Pelvic pressure (a feeling that your baby is pushing down), lower back pain (especially if it's a new problem for you), menstrual-like cramping or abdominal pain, or more than four contractions in an hour (even if they don't hurt)
An increase in vaginal discharge or a change in the type of discharge – if it becomes watery, mucus-like, or bloody (even if it's only pink or blood-tinged)
At any time:
Your baby is moving or kicking less than usual
Severe or persistent abdominal pain or tenderness
Vaginal bleeding or spotting, or watery discharge
Pain or burning when you urinate, or little or no urination
Severe or persistent vomiting, or any vomiting accompanied by pain or fever
Chills or a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
Blurred or double vision, or seeing spots or "floaters"
A severe or persistent headache, or any headache accompanied by blurred vision, slurred speech, or numbness
Any swelling in your face or puffiness around your eyes, anything more than mild swelling in your fingers or hands, or severe or sudden swelling in your legs, feet, or ankles, or a rapid weight gain (more than 4 pounds in a week)
Severe or persistent leg or calf pain that doesn't ease when you flex your ankle and point your toes toward your nose, or one leg significantly more swollen than the other
Trauma to your abdomen
Fainting, frequent dizziness, rapid heartbeat, or palpitations
Difficulty breathing, coughing up blood, or chest pain
Severe constipation accompanied by abdominal pain or severe diarrhea that lasts more than 24 hours
Persistent intense itching all over
Any health problem that you'd ordinarily call your practitioner about, even if it's not pregnancy-related (like worsening asthma or a cold that gets worse rather than better)
Even if you don't see your symptom on the list above, trust your instincts and call your doctor or midwife whenever you have a concern about your pregnancy. If there's a problem, you'll get help right away. If nothing's wrong, you'll be reassured.