Five weeks to go and you've almost reached your last month of pregnancy, according to your due date at least. By 35 weeks pregnant you may well already have heard from mums from your ante-natal or due month club who have already given birth and at this stage it's very easy to begin to feel impatient to meet your baby as well as impatient to have the weight of pregnancy taken off your feet. This is very understandable, particularly if you're suffering from a few third trimester discomforts, but do remember that once baby is here you're going to have very little time for yourself, so you really need to make as much of this time as you can, and try to see it as more as a last opportunity than a waiting game. If time is beginning to drag then make a list of all those favourite activities which will be put on hold for at least a while once baby has arrived - going to the cinema, going out for dinner, meeting friends in the evening, reading, sex... - and make sure you do as much of them as possible in these last few weeks.
Your bump is continuing to grow and increase the pressure it puts on the rest of your body, and you'll probably notice that your tummy button has grown as well. It might look as though your belly button is threatening to pop completely outwards, and this does happen to many women - it may have popped out already by now. Tummy button popping doesn't happen to everyone however, and some women even find that their tummy button is sometimes in and sometimes out - it has a lot to do with the shape of your bump and position of your baby. If your belly button does pop out and you don't like this new look then you can cover it over with a plaster or surgical tape to keep it flat.
A couple of other things that usually grow in size a little by this stage of pregnancy are your hands and feet. You might find that you even go up a shoe size during pregnancy, and certainly that your feet are more uncomfortable in your shoes at the end of the day as they swell. Swelling in your hands doesn't need to be dramatic to make your rings uncomfortable and if they get to the stage where they are very uncomfortable, or are interfering with your circulation, and you can't remove them yourself then you may need to have them cut off. To avoid this, it's a good idea to remove any rings that are becoming uncomfortable while you can still do this yourself, as your hands are likely to swell a little more before the end of pregnancy. If your hands are already too swollen to remove your rings with the help of soap and water or oil, then try cooling your hands down with an ice-pack, or maybe even a swim in a cool swimming pool if it's available, before you try gently twisting the ring off.
Some swelling in pregnancy is perfectly normal, particularly in the last few weeks, but if you have any dramatic, sudden or painful swelling to your hands, face or feet, or if the swelling is accompanied by a bad headache, nausea, vomiting or a rise in blood pressure, then you should talk to your doctor to rule out pre-eclampsia.
As the space for your stomach shrinks and you're more prone to acid indigestion (heartburn) and other digestive discomforts, it can become more of a challenge to eat well. This is compounded by the fact that as you tire more easily you'll be more likely to crave the zero-preparation and instant energy of sugary snacks. But although your baby is now well developed over these next weeks she'll be laying down stores of nutrients such as calcium and iron, so it's still very important that you try to stick to a healthy diet - with the odd rewarding treat of course. Try eating smaller meals more frequently, avoiding acid-causing foods and taking in slow-burning carbs such as brown rice, bread and wholewheat pasta. Stock up on some healthy snacks that you can reach for when your energy levels are low (and pop some into your hospital bag while you're at it!).
As you become more focused on the birth itself you'll probably have started thinking in more detail about your chosen approach to pain relief and about what birth positions you could usefully use. Of course, pain relief doesn't refer simply to medical kind of pain relief and you may be interested in trying to manage your pain through massage, TENS or waterbirth.
Things to do this week
- Launder baby's things - Chemical residues from the manufacturing process should really be washed off baby's new clothing and bedding before s/he wears them for the first time, so why not tick that off your preparation list this week? If you're still not sure what new baby essentials you'll need then check here before hitting the shops.
- Homebirth preparation - As you're now only a couple of weeks of reaching 'term', when your baby would no longer be considered premature, if you're planning a homebirth then it's now a good time to check that you've got in everything you need for a calm homebirth.
- Make headway on the name - You may have been thinking of little else for months now, but many new parents don't start to seriously think of a name for their baby together until a little late in the day: It's a good idea to have at least a few weeks in hand to see how potential names 'wear in' for you. If you haven't yet got very far or don't know where to start then have a look at our baby naming tips to get going.
- Daily perineal massage - You didn't start last week? Never mind, there's still time to make a difference so why not start today?
See here for more on how your baby will develop in week 36.