Your baby-to-be's weight gain is about to take a jump — from now until he's born, your baby will be adding 1/2 pound each week. In order to accomplish his final growth phase during the 3rd trimester, he will continue to absorb nutrients from your body: calcium for his skeleton, protein for his muscle growth, and iron for his red blood cell production. You might feel more tired or suffer from anemia as a result.
Even though your baby is already about as long as he'll be at birth, he will continue to gain weight rapidly as he adds a layer of fat to his lanky limbs. Of course, all that weight is making it more and more difficult for him to move in the womb. You might notice this slowdown in movements; it's totally normal. But if you're not feeling any jabs or the occasional kick, you should tell your health care provider.
Generally, if there is a concern, your health care provider will ask you to keep track of your unborn baby's movements. You record your baby's wiggles, jabs, kicks, twists, and somersaults -- called "kick counts" -- over a two-hour period. Within that time, your baby should move at least 10 times, if not more. Keep in mind that you should track these movements during your baby's "awake" period. If you don't chart 10 movements, don't panic. Try the test again for another two hours. If you still can't feel your baby's movements, you should contact your provider just so she's aware of your concern. She might ask you to keep recording your baby's movements for the next few days or she might ask you to come in for an evaluation. Your evaluation might or might not include an ultrasound examination.
Even if you don't have any concerns with your baby's development, kick counts are still a fun and valuable exercise for moms. Following your baby's movements in utero will help you figure out his schedule. Most likely, this is the same schedule he'll follow even after he's born. So if you'd like a sneak peek at when you'll be doing feedings and when you can nap during your baby's newborn phase, kick counts might give you an idea of what's to come.
Your baby's brain is almost as advanced as a newborn's at full term. However, it will keep growing quickly as his brain cells continue to make connections that will allow him to develop speech, memory, and maybe even the ability to remember the Pythagorean theorem.
Kick counts: For expectant mothers observing the number of times an unborn baby moves in utero to evaluate fetal well-being. Generally, the baby should move at least 10 times during a two-hour period.
Copyright © 2010 Meredith Corporation.
Images courtesy of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM.org).