Welcome to week 33
Have you felt any tingling or discomfort in your hands and fingers? Carpal tunnel syndrome, where the 'median' nerve in the hand which serves the thumb, index and middle fingers and part of the ring finger becomes compressed, affects up to half of all expectant mums. It can be really irritating and is caused by fluid retention. It usually disappears within three months of giving birth – although in some women symptoms persist for as long as a year.
There are things you can do to help ease the symptoms:
• Take frequent short screen breaks when working on the computer
• Try holding your hand up and stretching your fingers out as hard as you can. Hold the position for 10 seconds, relax and repeat 10 times
• Make a fist, hold for 10 seconds, release and relax
• Rotate your hand, then shake it vigorously downwards
• Hang the affected hand and arm out of the bed at night
• Try plunging your hand alternately into iced water, then hot water
• Try wearing a wrist support: your doctor or midwife might be able to provide one. Otherwise, most pharmacies supply them
If you still have carpal tunnel syndrome long after your baby's born and it isn't responding to self-help measures, you could try corticosteroid injections or tablets. There's also a minor operation, performed under local anaesthetic, that you might be offered if your symptoms persist for more than six months.
Your baby's lungs are now coated with surfactant, the substance that prevents them from collapsing when they have to take on the job of breathing outside the uterus. Conditions inside the uterus are pretty cramped by now, and your amniotic fluid has reached peak level. Your baby's speech and hearing centres are developing well. A form of glucose called glycogen is being produced. This will be stored in the liver until your baby needs the energy for labour and immediately after birth – because, after all, it's a two-person job, and it's hard work for your baby just as it is for you.
On the outside
Your uterus has been on the rise again! Now it's sitting 13cm (just over 5in) above your belly button and an amazing 33cm (just over 13in) from your pubic bone.
Things to think about
This week, make it your mission to choose a baby car seat. If you're travelling home from hospital in a car, you won't be allowed to leave without one. It's best to buy brand-new as you may not know the history of a second-hand purchase – and if a car seat has taken any impact from a previous accident it will not be up to the job of protecting your newborn.
Seek expert advice from stores stocking baby and child car seats as different seats are better suited to different makes and models of car. It's reassuring to have someone professional show you how to fit it, too, as the Department of Transport has reported that 60 of all car seats are used incorrectly.
Correct fitting is vital: every year around 25 children between 0-11 years are killed while travelling in cars, around 250 are seriously injured and a further 6,000 are slightly injured. It's a sobering piece of information.
At first, your baby must be carried in a rearward-facing position, and you will probably be using a portable seat that you can use to carry your baby to and from the car.
First rear-facing infant car seats are suitable for babies from birth to 10kg (so about 0-9 months). They can be used in the front or back seat of the car: you'll probably find it easiest to keep your baby in the front passenger seat with you when it's just the two of you – but you can only do this if you don't have a passenger airbag, as the impact of an airbag inflating with a baby in the front is extremely dangerous.
See previous week: 32 weeks pregnant
See next week: 34 weeks pregnant