If you are suffering from stress incontinence then working out your pelvic floor muscles will help, and if you haven't yet experienced any leakage then strengthening these muscles can help it stay that way. If the terms 'pelvic floor' or 'kegel exercises' mean nothing to you, then do have a read of our know-how article to get started. It's also usual to feel occasional sharp twinges down below, as if baby is knocking on your cervix, which is pretty close to the truth. This is a good reminder that it's time to start getting your nether regions ready for the birth. Daily perineal massage can help pre-stretch the area which will need to stretch so much to accommodate your baby's head at birth and reduce the chance of you tearing or needing an episiotomy - well worth the small daily effort it takes, and getting over the 'ick factor' involved.
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Your growing bump is also squashing your lung-space up, so it's completely usual to experience shortness of breath even after the simplest of exercise, like climbing the stairs or bending down to pick something off the floor. Make sure you take things more easy and give your body plenty of time to accomplish those tasks that get you puffing and panting, also make sure that you get a good dose of resting in with your daily exercise and generally being on your feet. If you find yourself getting very short of breath or getting dizzy then mention this to your doctor, as it may be a sign that you have a problem with your blood pressure or that your iron levels are running low. Be reassured that as your baby settles down into your pelvis into the run-up to birth the pressure on your lungs should ease again.
Practice contractions, or Braxton Hicks contractions can be a further source of abdominal discomfort for some women at this stage of pregnancy. All women have Braxton Hicks contractions, which are the uterus preparing for labour, throughout most of pregnancy but not all women will feel them. Those who do feel them may start to notice them sometime in the second half of pregnancy, and more likely in the final weeks before labour. Unlike labour contractions, Braxton Hicks are sporadic and simply uncomfortable, rather than painful. If you start to experience regular, frequent (several within an hour, rather than within a day) or painful abdominal cramping then you should contact your midwife or doctor to rule out premature labour.
Some mums-to-be will already have started producing first breast milk, or colostrum, and the consequent breast leakage can be a little surprising when you experience it for the first time. Leakage is usually slight, but a few women will need to start wearing breast pads. If you haven't yet decided whether or not you're going to try breastfeeding then this is something to think about in the next few weeks. We've got an overview of the pros and cons of breast and bottle feeding to get you started. Many mums who would prefer to breastfeed find themselves giving up in the first few days or weeks, usually because the experience turns out to be not as easy as they had envisioned. While the evidence that it's better for baby is overwhelming, breastfeeding can be difficult at times, and particularly in the early days when you and baby are both getting the hang of it. So it's a good idea to prepare yourself mentally by finding out what can happen in the early days of breastfeeding. Probably the biggest obstacle to successful breastfeeding is a lack of support for the mum, so if you're going breastfeed then get your partner, family members and midwife / health visitor on board and don't think twice about asking for help or advice. Whichever you choose to do there are a few things that you'll need to buy to be ready: bottles and sterilising equipment if you're bottle feeding and a couple of nursing bras and breast pads if you're breastfeeding. You probably won't need to buy special nursing clothing if you're planning to breastfeed, though you may want to, but it is a good idea to plan ahead and have some accessible clothing from your existing wardrobe on-hand.
With only seven weeks to go, at 33 weeks pregnant are you finding you need more frequent and urgent loo trips? If so there's a good reason for this. Not only is your growing uterus leaving little space for your bladder and digestive tract, but around sometime around now is a common time for babies to turn and face downwards in the womb, so the weight of the head puts extra pressure on your bladder. As a result some women experience some stress incontinence - leakage of urine when they laugh, cough or otherwise jolt their bodies suddenly - and digestive discomfort.
Things to do this week
Kegel exercises! - They help tone up your pelvic floor muscles ready for the birth and can help avoid or reduce such problems as stress incontinence before or after birth, plus they can be done anywhere, anytime, so there's no excuse for not starting your pelvic floor work out today.
Get in touch with your perineum - With only 7 weeks to go it's a good time to start daily perineal massage to prepare your perineum for the stretching that happens at birth. If you've never heard of your perineum before then you can find out more about it here.
Nursery furniture - You don't need much in the way of nursery furniture for a little baby besides somewhere small and cosy for him or her to sleep and storage for clothes and changing items. Do remember though, that some items that need to be ordered may have a few weeks' delivery time and you may not feel comfortable putting up furniture in the last couple of weeks.
Spoil yourself! - As you grow more uncomfortable it's a good time to make the most of these last baby-free weeks and indulge yourself in a little spa therapy to relieve those aching joints and limbs. Check out our Spa guide for mums-to-be for tips on where to go.
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