The second half of the pregnancy has begun — it is now the sixth month of your pregnancy. There are certain things that come with this period that pregnant women should beware of. Here are some tips for the second half of your pregnancy, thus, from week 21 of your pregnancy onwards. You can find advice on how to deal with issues related to calcium levels, varicose veins, Braxton Hicks contractions, toxicosis, oxygen levels, and other high risk pregnancy related issues.
In the 21st-22nd weeks of pregnancy, the fetus’s need for calcium increases dramatically – an intensive growth of the skeleton begins.
If there is not enough free calcium in the mother’s body now (and this happens very often), her teeth will be the first to feel it. Your baby will take it’s necessary calcium from the tissue in your teeth. This means that your teeth could crumble, fall apart, or you could even lose them.
Another alarming symptom of calcium deficiency is leg cramps. Do not wait for this to happen! Start taking calcium tablets and eating lots of calcium-fortified foods, such as seeds, cheese, yoghurt, milk, sardines, salmon, beans, lentils, almonds, or some leafy greens.
The risk of varicose veins increases during the second half of your pregnancy. During the beginning of the half, the bottom of the uterus is already 21-22 cm above the womb and can partially compress large veins, through which blood flows from the lower half of the body to the heart. The blood stagnates in the veins of the legs and causes their expansion.
You should especially beware of varicose veins, if a close relatives also has this disease or if you typically like to rest on your back (in this position, the likelihood that the vessels in your veins increases significantly).
Take preventive measures in order to avoid getting varicose veins. This could pain you for too many years in the future if they do appear.
Tips to prevent varicose veins:
- You should set aside your high heels, at least for the next six months. Try to wear flats or nothing exceeding 2cm. At home, if it’s not cold, you can walk barefoot, in socks, or in slippers.
- It’s best if you also wear shoes that aren’t too tight. Your feet or legs may swell, feeling compressed in your previously-easily fit shoes.
- While resting, lie on your side, not on your back. You can also lie 2-3 times a day on your back for 10-15 minutes with your feet placed in a higher position in order to improve blood flow to the rest of your body.
- It can also help to wear elastic bandages. Yes, bandages, and not stockings. Stockings don’t properly repeat the shape of your legs. It is usually advised to bandage the legs if signs of vein enlargement have already appeared. But why risk it? It is better to start prevention in advance.
Elastic bandages are sold at the pharmacy. Each leg requires a whole bandage (do not cut it either lengthwise or across). It is necessary to bandage in the morning, before getting up from bed and after holding your legs for 10 minutes in an elevated position (for example, leaning your legs against a wall). Start from the foot and bandage up to about the middle of the thigh. Each next round shoul overlap the previous one by about a third. The banding should not be tight, but rather enough so that your legs feel a tight hold.
At night, remove the bandages. Wash them with a simple soap, dry flat and away from heat sources. It’s better if you should bandage your feet daily until the end of your pregnancy.
Braxton Hicks Contractions
During this period, women may feel something like contractions, or “fights” in their uterus. This is called the “Braxton Hicks contraction” – named after the medic who described them. They are not painful, last around 1-2 minutes, and do not mean that you are about to give birth prematurely. Rather, they occur in response to the movements of your child, wherewith the uterus contracts a little, and then relaxes.
But it’s necessary to distinguish Braxton Hicks from regular contractions that can provoke preterm labor. Lie on your side for 30-40 minutes, and relax. With Braxton Hicks contractions, the tension of the uterus will gradually disappear without returning.
But if, despite the rest, the contractions occur regularly (for example, every 15 minutes), you must immediately call an ambulance. There is a special apparatus for assessing the contractile activity of the uterus, which helps the doctor distinguish whether it is harmless Braxton Hicks contractions or contractions threatening preterm labour.
Unfortunately, toxicosis can occur in many women, especially those suffering from chronic diseases such as hypertension, nephritis and pyelonephritis, cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory processes in the sexual sphere, myoma, obesity, and various disorders in the endocrine system.
If you have already experienced early toxicosis 2-3 months ago, now you may have thought that finally everything is over: there is no nausea and vomiting – meaning there should be no cause for concern.
However, the toxicosis of the second half of pregnancy is very different.
This complication is due to the fact that in the female body the water and salt metabolism is disturbed, the walls of the vessels acquire increased permeability, and the liquid begins to sweat into nearby tissues. At the same time, the circulating blood volume decreases. The picture is alarming: there is swelling all around, and hypovolemia in the bloodstream is a lack of fluid.
In this situation, blood pressure rises in the maternal organism so that the fetus does not suffer from a lack of nutrition. If the process has gone too far, it is almost impossible to stop. By reducing the blood pressure of the mother, we oppress the vital activity of the child, who can go into a stressful condition. This is a big and urgent problem, the resolution of which is dealt with by specialists all over the world.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to cure the late toxicosis of pregnancy that has taken place until the pregnancy is completed, you can only weaken its clinical manifestations.
Tips on preventing toxicosis:
- Eat healthy. Eliminate smoked foods, canned foods, fried, salty and spicy dishes, and chocolate. You should not eat a lot of grapes or drink raw milk – these products can cause bloating, which will “prop up” the diaphragm. From this, the heartbeat can beat more frequent, causing a pain in the heart and even suffocation. You should also try to limit flour products, such as buns and pies. Try to eat more vegetable salads, seasoned with vegetable oil. Examples of food that are good for you are porridge (such as buckwheat and oatmeal), cottage cheese, and dairy products. Be sure to include boiled meat and boiled fish, vegetables and fruits. Eat as much as you want, just do not satisfy your hunger with buns, cakes, sweets. Taking prenatal vitamins may also help.
- Control the amount of excreted fluid. Periodically, once a week, check for any delays in your body. The calculation is simple – how many liquids “enter” your body (including soups), so much should “come out”. A release of 200–300 ml less is allowed, a small loss can occur due to sweating, breathing and other so-called excretions. If there is little urine, this is a signal of hidden edema and the beginning of toxicosis. Immediately contact your doctor for measures that can still be effective.
- Monitor blood pressure. It is very good, if there is an opportunity to measure blood pressure at home. In so many women, their blood pressure can jump at the very thought of doctors, meaning it can be slightly different by the time they get to a medical center. In a familiar setting, however, the data can be more objective. The results of the measurements must be shown at the next visit to the doctor. If the results are too high or too low, this might not be so good. The fact is that with low pressure, the blood sluggishly penetrates the placenta and the baby does not receive the nutrients it needs. Blood pressure is best monitored during the day. If it is lower at night than it is during the day, then that is all right. Blood pressure monitoring is especially needed in women with vascular dystonia and hypertension.
- Try to follow a healthy schedule. In order not to provoke toxemia, you should sleep enough (at least 8-9 hours), walk a lot in fresh air, and, most importantly, you must try not to worry, stress, get upset, and should avoid carrying or moving heavy objects. Remember: an overworked pregnant woman is a fetus suffering from lack of oxygen and nutrition. Not only the husband, but all relatives should try to help keep the pregnant woman’s mood smooth, cloudless, and calm. The condition of the baby depends on it.
High Risk Pregnancies
- Women, with hyperandrogenism (dysfunction of the adrenal cortex), still need close monitoring by a doctor. By the 21st – 24th weeks, the release of hormones produced by the adrenal glands of a child can cause an imbalance in the mother’s body and cause miscarriage.
- Women who have developed pregnancy pyelonephritis should be required to undergo a urine test for bacteriuria (the presence of a large number of microbes).
- The risk of developing diabetes is increased if parents or other relatives of the pregnant woman are affected. Diabetes mellitus, which has been hidden, can reveal itself in the second half of the pregnancy, as it becomes difficult for the defective pancreas to cope with the increased load of insulin during a normal pregnancy.
- Previous birth of a large baby (weighing more than 4.5 kg) can also be a risk factor . The first symptoms may include increased thirst, increased urine, and sometimes itchy skin. If you are seeing this in yourself, immediately apply for a consultation with your doctor.
Oxygen and Breathing
All the internal organs of your baby are now already working with all their might. The liver is functioning, collecting “reserves” of glycogen, the red bone marrow and the spleen are actively involved in blood formation, the digestive system and the kidneys are working.
Only the lungs remain immature. Nevertheless, it is during this period that the child does his/her first breathing “exercises”. How can this be if your baby is swimming in amniotic fluid?
The fact that in utero the child is in a liquid environment does not bother your baby at all. The respiratory organs (bronchial tree) of the six-month fetus are already well formed, down to the smallest vesicles – the alveoli. Microscopic cells called the pulmonary alveoli begin to produce a surfactant by the 24th week of pregnancy. This substance lubricates the cells and prevents them from sticking together during breathing.
Receiving oxygen from the mother through her blood stream, the child, of course, does not breathe himself, because the lung tissue does not expand and the air does not enter his/her lungs. He only makes breathing movements. At the same time, small amount of amniotic fluid will get into the lungs, but this does not cause any harm to the baby. Such respiratory “training” are performed under the guidance of the respiratory center in the brain.
The normal maturation and functioning of this respiratory part of the baby’s brain directly depends on what kind of life the mother leads, whether it is healthy or not. If she walks a lot, breathes fresh air, abides by a healthy lifestyle and mealplan, everything will go well. But if toxic substances (such as alcohol, nicotine, a pair of varnishes, paints, solvents and other chemical substances) inhibit the central nervous system of the fetus, the development of the respiratory center and bronchi may lag behind.
Starting from the 24th week of pregnancy, a six-month old fetus is considered to be able to survive outside the mother’s body. Indeed, in some perinatal centers such children are being nursed with complex breathing apparatus, special incubators, and control systems. Still, at 24 weeks of pregnancy, the child is still too immature to survive on his/her own. Therefore, in many other countries, 28 weeks of pregnancy is considered the baseline time for a baby to be able to live, but still not considered “full term” or able to survive on his/her own.