You are now more than halfway through your pregnancy and are probably already warming up for labor and delivery. Reaching the 29th week means your baby has over 90% chances of surviving with special medical assistance if you were to give birth this week .
Baby development during pregnancy week 29
The muscles, lungs, digestive tract and other internal organs continue to mature during the 29th week . The fetal airways are maturing while his bronchioles and alveoli are increasing in number. Your baby would even be able to breathe on his own if he was born this week, although he would need assistance as he would probably tire easily . The respiratory system will continue to mature until your baby reaches 8 years of age .
His head grows in size to support the developing brain , which is now developed enough to regulate your baby’s body temperature . This week is important for the maturation of the part of the brain responsible for your baby’s personality and intelligence . The brain will also produce billions of nerve cells during the last few weeks as they stop growing after your baby is born .
Once you enter the third trimester, your baby looks more like a newborn than a fetus, with the growing fat layers smoothing out the skin. The waxy white layer of vernix caseosa begins to disappear gradually along with the fine layer of downy hair (lanugo) covering his body .
The white fat layer accumulating beneath his skin is much different than the brown fat your baby has been developing for the past few weeks. The brown fat is responsible for maintaining fetal body temperature while the white fat (the fat present in newborns as well as adults) serves as a source of energy . However, your body temperature is necessary to keep your baby warm until birth as it is still too early for him to start regulating his body temperature on his own .
Sensory organ development
As he becomes more responsive to light and sound in week 29, his eyes begin to focus as well .
Teeth and bone development
With the baby-teeth buds already developed, this is the week when the permanent teeth buds begin to form . The third trimester is crucial for the fetal bone development as well with around 250mg of calcium deposited in his hardening skeleton per day .
Fetal movement and kick counts
Your baby’s kicks and punches are likely getting more frequent as he grows in size and strength. He will have enough room in the uterus to move about and practice limb movement for a few more weeks before it gets too cramped for the last months of pregnancy . You might also feel occasional rhythmic movements or fetal hiccups that last for several minutes at a time. Each baby has a unique pattern of movement and you have probably grown familiar with the movements of your own growing bundle of joy.
After the 28th week, your doctor will ask you to keep track of your baby’s movements by kick counts. Take some quiet time twice every day to count the kicks or any other detectable movement. Ten movements in one hour (or less) means everything is fine. In case your baby moves less, have some fruit juice or snacks, lie down and start counting again. Call your doctor if you feel less than ten movements within the next two hours .
How big is your baby this week?
The baby is rapidly nearing his birth length, being about 15.2 inches (38.6 cm) long this week, as big as a butternut squash . But, he is still quite skinny with a lot of weight to gain in the coming months. Weighing around 2.5 pounds (1.13 kg) , his weight will double up or even almost triple in the last few weeks before delivery .
29 weeks pregnant: weight gain, belly and body changes
You can feel the top of the uterus between 3.5 and 4 inches above your bellybutton . The ideal weight gain by this point of pregnancy should range between 19 pounds and 25 pounds for women with a normal BMI. Overweight or underweight women should consult their doctor to find out the proper weight gain levels.
It is normal for your breasts to continue leaking the yellowish fluid (colostrum) as your body is still preparing for breastfeeding. Colostrum contains certain antibodies that help your baby build proper resistance to prevent common illnesses and fight various infections during the first few days after birth . So, those planning to go for infant formula instead of breastfeeding should consider it at least for the first couple of days of their baby’s lives.
Twin pregnancy week 29 weight gain
Women carrying twins should gain a total of 30-40 pounds  with the weekly weight gain ranging around 1.5 pounds after the 28th-29th weeks .
29 weeks pregnant tests and ultrasound
An ultrasound exam performed this week will show your baby looking almost like he would on the day of delivery. You will also probably catch him moving his still-thin limbs while making different facial expressions. It is normal for your baby to lie feet-down (in a breech position) at this stage as there is plenty of time for him to turn and come into the proper head-down birth position .
Your doctor might order a blood test to check the iron levels and to determine whether you need supplements . A biophysical profile or nonstress test might be performed to check your baby’s health, if you notice him becoming less active .
Pregnancy week 29 signs and symptoms
- Gas, indigestion, heartburn 
- Leg cramps 
- Joint, hip and back pain
- Pelvic pain
- Round ligament pain
- Pain in your ribs along with feeling out of breath (due to the growing uterus putting pressure on your ribcage and diaphragm) 
- Sleeplessness or insomnia due to your growing belly
- Restless leg syndrome 
- Vivid, often disturbing, dreams 
- Headaches and migraines 
- Braxton Hicks contraction 
- Varicose veins and hemorrhoids
- Spider veins, characterized by reddish swollen veins branching out from a red dot at the center, resembling a spider 
- Stretch marks
- Frequent urination 
- Hot flashes
- Swelling of the hands and feet (due to increased blood flow and fluid retention) 
- Itchy skin (due to the skin around your stomach, back and breasts stretching to accommodate the baby)
- Emotional changes or mood swings and depression
When to call the doctor
- If you notice any alteration in your baby’s regular pattern of movement 
- Abdominal contractions that become more frequent over time along with spotting/bleeding or thin watery discharge, losing the mucus plug, feeling pressure in the pelvic area, period-like stomach cramps and back pain (might indicate preterm labor) 
- Pain or burning sensations during urination, along with frequent urge to urinate, dark or cloudy urine, lower back pain around your kidney, thick egg-white or jelly like yellowish or green discharge and nausea (might indicate a kidney infection, yeast infection  or UTI )
- Extreme fatigue or dizziness accompanied by constant headache, shortness of breath, vision changes, sudden swelling of the face, hands and feet, upper abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting (might indicate high blood pressure or preeclampsia) 
- Severe diarrhea and vomiting lasting for over 24 hours
- Extreme thirst and dry mouth along with sudden changes in vision, severe nausea, excessive tiredness or lightheadedness (might indicate gestational diabetes) 
- Lots of straw-colored or watery clear discharge (might indicate leaking amniotic fluid)
- Recurring vaginal bleeding with abdominal or back cramps (might indicate placenta previa or low lying placenta) 
Tips for a healthy pregnancy and baby
- Making sure to include lots of protein, folic acid, iron and vitamin C in your daily diet to meet your baby’s increasing nutritional demands
- Following a diet containing calcium rich foods like milk, cheese, yoghurt and leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale etc., as your baby’s developing bones are soaking up plenty of calcium every day 
- Getting enough docosahexaenoic acid or DHA as it helps in proper brain and nerve cell development; Flaxseed, walnut and canola oils and fatty fishes like salmon are rich sources of DHA 
- Drinking lots of fluids (10-12 glass a day) and eating high fiber foods including fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads and breakfast cereals 
- Getting at least 30 mg of iron from your daily diet unless you are prescribed to take iron supplements 
- Avoiding sleeping on your back, trying to sleep on your left side as it improves your blood circulation
- Avoiding standing for long periods and keeping your feet propped up (with a cushion or pillow) when lying down to fight the symptoms of leg cramps and varicose veins 
- Doing light exercises like walking and swimming for 20 to 30 minutes each, 3 times a week 
- Consulting your doctor regarding discontinuing your iron supplements (if taking any) in case of severe constipation
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