YOUR CHANGING LIFE
Get ready for leg cramps and darker skin
Welcome to week 19 of your pregnancy. By now, you might consider yourself a pro when it comes to the ins and outs of pregnancy symptoms and finding maternity clothes that flatter your ever-expanding belly. But there are still a lot of changes taking place this week – some of which you may not have experienced before.
You might feel like you're already pretty huge, but you're only going to get bigger over the next several weeks, and the growth will be even faster than it has been. As a result, you might start to feel aches in your lower abdomen or even sharp pains on one or both sides of your belly, usually when you shift positions or settle down after a long, active day. This is completely normal, and it's called round ligament pain. It simply means that the ligaments that support your uterus and baby bump are stretching to accommodate the recent growth. It's nothing to be concerned about, but if you feel pain constantly, even when you're resting, or the pain becomes severe, you might want to bring it up with your doctor.
Leg cramps might also be starting to keep you up at night or plague you throughout the day. These are pretty common, and while their cause is unknown, it might be because your body is swelling and compressing your blood vessels or it could be muscle fatigue. Even tingling and numbness in your fingers and toes is normal, and this is probably caused by your swollen tissues pressing on your nerves.
Skin changes are also common at this point in your pregnancy. Estrogen, for example, might be making the palms of your hands look redder than they usually do, while an increase of pigment may be making a number of features on your body look darker. Your nipples might look deeper in color, your freckles might become more prominent, scars might become more noticeable and even dark patches on your face, called chloasma, or the "mask of pregnancy," may start to appear. All of these usually fade after delivery, but until then, there's nothing a little concealer can't fix!
YOUR BABY THIS WEEK
From bell pepper to tomato
This week, your baby is the size of an heirloom tomato – you know, those really big ones. His or her arms and legs are proportional to the rest of the body, and now that the motor neurons between the muscles and the brain are connecting, your little one has control over his or her movements. That means there's bound to be plenty of rolling, stretching and kicking going on, which you'll notice within the next couple of weeks if you haven't already.
Another big development this week is the waxy white coating that now covers your baby's entire body. This is called the vernix caseosa – it protects your little one's skin from the amniotic fluid so he or she won't be born with wrinkled, pickled skin! Most of this greasy covering sheds as your due date approaches, but some babies are born with a little bit of the coating still sticking.
The kidneys are fully functioning this week, so your baby can pee, which passes into the amniotic fluid. The hair on his or her scalp is starting to sprout, the gums are developing tooth buds and the parts of the brain that are responsible for the senses are fine-tuning themselves, meaning your baby could be hearing your voice and seeing the difference between light and dark through your belly wall.
Choose a name
If you haven't already started thinking of serious names for your baby, now's a good time to get started. After all, it might take awhile before you and your partner find a name that both of you can agree on! But where do you get started?
First, ask yourself if there are any names that you would want to consider based on your family members. Has your partner always wanted a child who was named after his father? Do you want to honor your great aunt by naming your daughter after her? Family names are some of the most obvious choices, but if you don't want to add to the confusion, you might want to pick a name from farther back in your family's history.
Or, you might want to choose a name from some of the trendy categories that parents are focusing on these days. Colors, city names, last names as first names, nature names and vintage names are all big, but you might not want to choose something that's totally out there. Your baby has to live with your decision for the rest of his or her life, so don't pick something that he or she will regret!
If you're still struggling to come up with a name, there are tons of baby name books out there that might be of use. Not only are there options from all over the world, but these guides usually tell you how to pronounce the names, what their meanings are and even spelling variations to make your child's name truly unique. Create a list of the names that interest you, then go through it with your partner and settle for a few winners.
Don't forget that you have plenty of leeway with middle names, too. Most parents choose a middle name for their children, and some even pick more than one. If you can't reach a compromise with your partner, you could always have one person's choice for the first name and the other choice for the middle name. Problem solved!
Remember to pay attention to how the name sounds when it's spoken aloud – you probably don't want a first name that ends with the same sound as the beginning of your last name, or a name that rhymes. And pay attention to the initials, too! Can you imagine accidentally giving your child a name with the initials A.S.S. or P.E.E.?