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27 Weeks Pregnant

27-weeks-baby

Image: Fetal Development At 27 Weeks

Your baby now weighs about 800 grams and measures roughly 34cm. Baby regularly breathes in amniotic fluid, which helps prepare him for life in the big wide world. This often gives him hiccups, which you’ll probably feel as little taps in your belly. Ah…

Your little one’s sensitivity to sound is also increasing all the time and he can probably hear you and your partner chatting!

Now is a good time to think about who will be your birth partner/s. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the baby’s dad, or just him. You could also have your mother or a close friend there. But remember that some maternity units limit the number of people allowed in the room, so choose carefully.

You will probably also be tested for anaemia at some point soon. Remember, you’re producing so much extra blood that it’s important to be mindful of your iron levels. If necessary your midwife or doctor can recommend the right supplements for you to take – remember not all are safe for pregnant women.
 
What are Braxton Hicks contractions?
At some point around the middle of your pregnancy you may feel the muscles of your womb tightening. If you were to rest a hand on your bare bump at this time, you’d feel how hard your uterus becomes.

Usually this contracting lasts for about 30 seconds and probably won’t be uncomfortable. It will probably come once or twice an hour, a few times a day. Some women don’t feel this tightening at all.

You might be aware of these contractions from 24 weeks onwards, but in truth your uterus has been having small contractions from around week 9. As your pregnancy progresses and your uterus expands, you are more likely to feel Braxton Hicks.

Why do pregnant women experience Braxton Hicks?
Opinions vary as to the purpose of Braxton Hicks. It’s possible that these contractions are your body’s way of keeping your uterus muscles fibres toned, ready for the big day.

Some authorities also think that Braxton Hicks help prepare the muscles of your cervix. In the early stages of labour, your cervix becomes shorter and stretchier in preparation for dilation. The theory is that Braxton Hicks give your cervix a ‘trial run’ for the birth stretch.

Still other experts argue that Braxton Hicks contractions don’t affect your cervix. They think that a woman’s cervix doesn’t change until right at the end of pregnancy, or at the start of labour.

How can I tell the difference between Braxton Hicks and labour contractions?
Many pregnant women are worried concerning this question. The fear is: ‘what if something’s wrong or if I go into premature labour and don’t realise?’ To make matters even more frustrating, pregnant women are often told by friends or even midwives: ‘when it starts, you’ll recognise real labour.’ What??

Thankfully, there are distinguishing features between the two.

Braxton Hicks contractions:

  • Happen at irregular intervals, usually no more than once or twice per hour, a few times in a day. If they are regular they usually only remain that way for a short time. As your pregnancy progresses, they remain non-rhythmic and somewhat random.
  • Don’t last long – mostly less than a minute and often only about 30 seconds.
  • Do not grow in intensity.
  • Often stop if you change positions or activity. For example if you’ve been walking around then sit down, and vice versa.

In comparison, labour contractions are usually:

  • More regular
  • More frequent
  • Markedly longer
  • Persistent, increasing in pain, frequency and duration

What is false labour?
In late pregnancy there’s a chance you’ll experience what is known as False Labour. This occurs when Braxton Hicks contractions get more rhythmic; possibly every 10 to 20 minutes.

It might be hard to tell the difference between false labour and early labour, especially if the contractions are quite uncomfortable. But in false labour your cervix won’t have begun to dilate. Your midwife can carry out a vaginal examination and it will be apparent then.

What if my Braxton Hicks contractions become painful?
As you get further along in your pregnancy, Braxton Hicks may increase in intensity and even sometimes become painful. When this happens some women panic because they think they are going into labour but even if these contractions feel very intense, if they ease, then they are most likely Braxton Hicks.

Many women help keep themselves positive by looking upon Braxton Hicks as ‘trial runs’ when they can practice the breathing techniques that they are learning in their antenatal classes.

You might find that you experience Braxton Hicks more often when you’re active; for example carrying the shopping. At such times it might help to lie down. Or if you’re already restful, take a walk. Changing activity can really make a difference. Also many women find a warm (but obviously not hot!) bath can help.

When should I call the doctor or midwife?
If you are less than 37 weeks into your pregnancy, call your midwife or doctor if you experience contractions with:

  • Bloody vaginal discharge or watery discharge
  • Cramping or pain in your lower back

These might be signs of premature labour.

After the 37 week mark, you should call your midwife or doctor if:

  • You think your waters have broken
  • You experience bleeding
  • You feel like your baby’s movements have slowed down

In any case, if after week 37 you experience long, more intense, more frequent and regular contractions then this could mean your baby is on the way. Your midwife will probably have talked to you about what to do when you think labour is starting, but if in doubt, call her or the delivery suite at the hospital.

I’m sweating a lot, help!

Sadly, increased sweating is just one of those normal, annoying symptoms of pregnancy that no woman escapes. As you grow and get heavier, you’re likely to sweat even more. Your body has to work hard to nourish your baby and your temperature is elevated. Sweating is your body’s way of trying to cool you down.

Remember to drink plenty of water. Yes, it’s annoying to have to go for a pee all the time, but trust us, you need it. Wear loose-fitting, cotton clothes and consider investing in a hand-held fan. Keep in mind, it will all be worth it in the end!

Possible Scan at Week 27
A 3D Ultrasound is a special scan that shows the baby in three dimensions. This forms part of a 4D Scan. The 4D Scan has the additional dimension of time so that you see a moving image.

Many parents choose to have a scan in 3/4D because they’re curious to see their baby’s face and find that it really enhances the bond with their little one. Parents often find it reassuring, not to mention exciting – especially the prospect of showing their child a moving image of themselves in the womb in later years.

Possible Scan at Week 27
The purpose of a Well-being Scan is to check that the baby is growing well and that the pregnancy is developing normally. You may want to have this scan if your baby has been moving less, if you have had unusual tummy pains, light bleeding or if you have had some kind of accident (for example on the road or in a fall).

A Wellbeing Scan is particularly important if you have had pregnancy complications or problems in a previous pregnancy. This scan is usually only offered by the NHS if there is a complication with the pregnancy.

Possible Scan at Week 27
A Sexing Scan (also sometimes called a Gender Identification Scan) can be performed to find out the sex of your baby at this stage.

The baby will also be measured and your medical professional will assess his or her wellbeing. Sexing scans are highly reliable but can be more difficult if a woman is very overweight, or if the baby is in an unfavourable position.

Gender Scan or Sexing Scan

Gender Scan (Boy) Picture (Click image to enlarge)

Generally, if a healthcare professional is unsure about the sex of your baby they won’t guess. But thankfully it’s very unusual to be unable to determine the sex of the baby.