Weekly Guide to Pregnancy: Week 28
How big is my baby?
Fetal size: crown-rump 25cm (10 inches), total length 37cm (15.75 inches). Fetal weight: 1.1 kg (2.4 pounds).
This week the amount of tissue in your baby's brain increases, and the surface of your baby's brain starts to change from being smooth, to forming grooves, ridges and indentations.
Your baby continues to fill out, becoming plumper and rounder in appearance
What pregnancy symptoms will I be experiencing?
Normal weight gain up to and including Week 28 should be between 7.7 and 10.9 kilos (17 to 24 pounds).
You will probably be starting to think about the position of your baby. At this point it's probably too early to tell how your baby is lying just by feeling the abdomen. In addition, your baby may continue to change positions for another 4 weeks or so. By then your health care professional should be able to tell whether your baby's head or legs are facing downwards.
By now you're probably starting to think about your labour and you may also have given some thought to a birth plan. Take a look at the Essential Baby Birth Plan information for some assistance with writing your birth plan. Although you may want a natural labour and birth, it doesn't hurt to be aware of some medical terms and events if intervention is required.
Induction of Labour - this term is used to describe the process of inducing labour by artificial methods. Induction of labour is carried out when there is a medical condition (relating to the mother or baby) that suggests that the baby be delivered before it comes naturally. Induction can also be used to assist the start of labour when a woman has significantly passed her expected date of confinement (usually between 10 and14 days overdue). There are several induction methods that can be used, and one will be chosen based on assessing the circumstances of each individual. Prostaglandin gel can be used to help "ripen" the cervix, or neck of the uterus. The gel can take a few days to start working, but it can be very effective. Another method is a Syntocinon infusion - an intravenous drip that is slowly infused to promote the onset of labour. Syntocinon is a synthetic form of the naturally occurring contracting hormone, Oxytocin. Occasionally a health care professional will attempt to induce labour merely by breaking the waters, which can work well if you are given time for your body to establish labour.
Epidural - this is a form of local anaesthetic used as a pain relief in labour. It works by numbing the nerves that carry the feelings of pain to the brain. It is often used if a caesarean section is necessary, because it allows the mother to be awake while the baby is being born. A specialist doctor (anaesthetist) is needed to give an epidural. A needle is inserted in between the bones of the spine, and then a plastic tube is fed down the needle to an area just outside the spinal cord (the epidural space). The needle is removed and the tube is kept in place with sticky tape. The anaesthetic is injected down the tube and begins to work after 15 to 20 minutes. "Top ups" can be given by injecting more anaesthetic down the tube. Although this form of pain relief offers an almost pain free labour, there are risks and disadvantages. It can delay birth, as a woman is unaware of her own urges to push unless the epidural is allowed to wear off. Consequently, women who opt for an epidural have a higher rate of intervention, for example forceps deliveries. There is a small risk of getting a headache following the anaesthetic.
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