Hurrah, you've almost reached your third and final trimester! Before you know it your baby will be here. In the meantime, here's what to be doing and thinking about now that you're 27 weeks pregnant and counting down the weeks to giving birth.
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What’s happening at 27 weeks?
Here are the key things you can expect from your pregnancy at this stage:
- Your baby's lungs are capable of breathing air.
- You need to start sleeping on your side.
- Fatigue and other pregnancy symptoms may start to return.
- Anxiety about giving birth may kick in around now.
How big is your baby?
As you approach the third trimester, your baby is roughly as long as a two-litre bottle of fizzy drink, weighing around 875g and measuring 36.6cm from head to heel.
If your baby were to be born now, their lungs would just about be able to breathe air. The lungs are one of the last parts of your baby's body to develop fully though, and there's still a bit longer to go before they're really ready to take their first breath.
And of course, your baby is still busy gaining lots of weight, and laying down layers of fat that'll help keep them warm after the birth.
Have you and your partner been taking time to bond with your baby? It's a great way to help your partner feel more involved, and to spend some quality time together. If you don't have a partner, it's still a lovely way for you to feel close to your growing baby.
Try to carve out at least 10 minutes a day to sit alone or with your partner, and dedicate time to your bump. Massage and stroke your bump, and talk, read or sing to your baby.
What's going on with your body?
The extreme tiredness that you probably felt in the first trimester could start to rear its head again around now – not helped by the fact that sleeping is getting trickier.
Whether your bump is preventing you getting comfortable in bed or you wake up needing the loo several times, you may be struggling to get a good night's sleep. These sleep aids may help.
Needing the loo a lot during the day isn't uncommon at this stage of pregnancy either. Your growing baby is starting to press on your bladder, which means you need to pee more often than before.
Heartburn is another pregnancy niggle that can return as your baby grows, and may affect your sleep. If it's keeping you awake, try not eating for a few hours before bed.
You could even prop the head end of your bed up a bit, so you're not lying so flat. Raising the whole end of your bed (for example, by propping it up on a few books) generally works better than just propping yourself up with pillows.
Now your bump is getting more pronounced, you might also get a bit itchy as the skin stretches in ways it’s not accustomed to.
A degree of itching is quite normal in pregnancy, but extreme itching can be a sign of something more serious. So consult your midwife if it's severe, particularly if it mainly affects your hands and feet. It could be a sign of a a potentially serious liver disorder that can develop in pregnancy called ICP (intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy) .
What to expect this week: worrying about labour
Now you're almost in the third trimester, the sudden realisation that your baby will need to come out can hit.
Some pregnant women can't wait, while others become really anxious about it.
Whether it overwhelms or excites you, now’s a good time to start addressing your concerns and putting a plan in place for your due date.
Learning about what’s involved and what to expect will also give you a chance to jot down any worries you may have or questions you might want to ask at antenatal classes.
There are three stages of labour:
- The first stage, which starts when your contractions are regular and usually lasts the longest of the three.
- The second stage, also known as the 'pushing stage', which starts when your cervix is fully dilated (fully open with a diameter of 10cm) and ends with the delivery of your baby.
- The third stage, which is the delivery of the placenta, either naturally or induced by drugs.
You'll probably notice some early signs of labour before the first stage starts – this is sometimes known as the latent phase , and can last for several days. During this time, your body is starting to get ready for labour, and you may have contractions, but they won't be regular.
How long can you expect labour to last?
If this is your first baby , the first stage of labour usually lasts from 8-12 hours, and the pushing stage no longer than 3 hours. So that's a total of 11-15 hours from regular contractions until you're holding your baby.
If you've had a baby before , labour is usually quite a bit quicker, with the first stage lasting around 5 hours on average, and the second stage less than 2 hours – for a total of 7 hours on average.
However, it's different for every woman, with some mums popping their babies out in a matter of several hours, and others enduring 24+ hours in all.
If you feel as though you're actually petrified of giving birth, you may be suffering from tokophobia, an actual phobia of pregnancy and labour. Learn more about tokophobia and what to do about it.
What to do this week: sleep on your side
Latest research suggests that once you're in the third trimester (ie from next week onwards), you should sleep on your side. Experts now recommend that if you're going to sleep or taking a nap, you should start off on your side, in order to reduce your chances of stillbirth.
A three-year long study, that concluded in 2017, showed that if pregnant women sleep on their back in late pregnancy, it can increase risk of stillbirth.
As a result, Tommy's charity launched the Sleep On Side campaign , to let pregnant women know the health risks attached to sleeping on your back.
And don't worry if you wake up on your back. What's key here is the position you first go to sleep in. So start off on your side whenever you lie down for a nap or sleep. Then, if you wake up in a different position just try to go back onto your side as soon as you can.
Some experts, particularly in the US, recommend sleeping on your left side. A few small studies have suggested that can improve blood flow to your baby. But other studies haven't found any difference between the left or right side.
So while you may prefer to go for the left side just to be ultra safe, it doesn't really matter which side you choose. The most important thing for your baby's health is just to avoid going to sleep on your back in late pregnancy.
Watch this short video below to find out more about sleeping on your side ...
Your 27 week to-do list
1 Start sleeping on your side when you first go to sleep.
2 Read our tips on easing your childbirth fears .
3 Stock up on pantyliners as you may find you wee when you sneeze. Doing pelvic floor exercises will help with this.
4 Get your antenatal notes and any questions ready for next week's antenatal appointment.
5 By the end of the week, you'll have completed your second trimester; sounds like you deserve a treat! Take time to do something you love, or check out these top-rated pregnancy pampering products for ideas.
What to watch this week...
Get expert tips on what to expect at 27 weeks pregnant from our midwife.
Pregnancy Week by Week
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What happens next week...
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