YOUR CHANGING LIFE
Overcoming the challenges of backaches, leg cramps and pregnancy brain
Welcome to week 26 of your pregnancy. In week 25, your burgeoning bump swelled to become the size of a soccer ball and your hair took on an abnormally shiny – but ultra luxurious – sheen that made you even more of an attention-grabber.
But in week 26, it's a whole new ballgame. You're at the tail end of your second trimester, and with all the changes your body's been through over the last few months, you probably feel like you deserve a much-needed rest.
Unfortunately, you're starting to feel the results of lugging a baby around in your belly. From backaches to leg cramps, your little one is making his or her presence known in a big way. And while at this point, pregnancy pains may seem like a hassle, it's important to view them as a labor of love.
During week 26, you may experience the gamut of symptoms, from bloating, to headaches, to changes in vision. Many women experience increased vaginal discharge, while even more are susceptible to the dreaded pregnancy brain.
If you're feeling less focused and more forgetful than usual, this could be a sign that you've succumbed to pregnancy brain – take it in stride though, since most of your coworkers, friends and family are probably inclined to cut you a break due to your condition!
Your uterus, which is now about 2 ½ inches above your belly button, will continue to expand by half an inch each week until your delivery.
YOUR BABY THIS WEEK
From rutabaga to cucumber
Last week, your baby learned how to clench his or her fist – this week, your little one is putting it to good use! Your baby has grown to a little over 13 inches during week 26, and he or she weighs in at a whopping 2 pounds, making him or her just about the size of a cucumber – an English hothouse cucumber, to be exact.
For weeks now, your little one's eyes have been shut tight, but now, it's almost time for him or her to let those peepers take a gander at the big, wide world. No matter what your baby's ethnicity is, his or her irises are going to be bright blue – a beautiful color that may or may not stick around after birth.
The beginnings of cabin fever are starting to kick in for your baby – what began as flutters and phantom movements a few months ago are now full-blown (and quite frequent!) kicks as your little one grows more restless. If a loud noise or bright light shines near your belly, don't be surprised if the baby responds by kicking or moving around more often.
During this time, your baby's ears are becoming stronger and he or she may be more attuned to the sound of your voice. Your little one is breathing amniotic fluid on a regular basis now, which stimulates the development of his or her lungs.
If you're having a boy, week 26 is also when his testicles will begin to descend into his scrotum.
Eat right and provide your body with plenty of nutrients
As your body changes in remarkable ways to accommodate your growing baby, it's only natural that you may feel like indulging yourself on occasion. From scrumptious desserts to a juicy burger or two, the temptation to treat yourself to a variety of sweet confections and savory, salty dishes loaded with goodness can be strong. If you embrace the notion that you're eating for two, it can be easy to get carried away as you pick out food to eat each day.
While no one would begrudge you a snack or two, it's important – both for your health and for the well-being of your baby – that you practice some moderation and try to keep your weight gain within a range that your healthcare provider recommends.
By week 26, the average weight gain is between 16 to 22 pounds. Every woman's pregnancy is unique, so this may not apply to you – however, by trying to stick to a balanced diet, you can ensure that your pregnancy is successful and your baby is healthy.
Fish, which many women enjoy, can still be eaten, but with some caution. Salmon, cod, bass and freshwater perch are usually fine to continue eating, just be sure to consult your doctor before making any adjustments to your diet.
You should also try and eat more meals featuring foods rich in iron, like spinach and lentils. This can help you recover some of the iron that your baby is absorbing and keep you in good health. Prenatal vitamin supplements can give you the boost you'll need to make the final months of your pregnancy even better!