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Pregnancy At Week 31

Pregnancy At Week 31

Week 31 Pregnancy – How Is Your Baby Doing?

At your 31st week of pregnancy, you will be excited to know that your little baby now weighs just under three and a half pounds. Not only this, but they are now between sixteen and eighteen inches long – very close to their birth length. What they need to do now is grow another three to five pounds before they are ready to be born. In the last thirty one weeks, your little darling has grown from the size of a nut to the size of a coconut!

You may have noticed that your baby is resting every now and then. This is just the baby’s way of preparing for their routine once outside the womb. They will sleep for a few hours and then look for food and play. No need to panic if the kicking stops for a few hours – now you know why.

coconut

    You may be surprised to know that as your baby’s organs mature, they are now able to pass urine from their bladder (getting good practice for the outside world!). And if you’re wondering how on earth they are passing the time in there, get this: They are hiccuping, making faces, sucking their thumb, kicking, pedaling, and even waving and smiling as scan footage has shown us recently.

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    The Mothers Body at Week 31 Pregnancy

    Just as there is quite a lot going on with your baby, there is also a lot changing with your own body this week.

    Colostrum

    You may notice colostrum leaking from your breasts. This just means the body is getting ready to nurse and is no big deal, although many of us have been left red-faced the first time it happens. Not to worry – nursing pads are excellent for soaking up colostrum and they are very discreet. Don’t worry if there is no sign of colostrum. This can happen and it’s not a big deal. You will still have plenty of milk when you need it if you decide to breastfeed.

    You may also want to buy a nursing bra at this point. Try to get one a cup size too big as you will need this space when the milk comes in.

    Shortness of Breath

    Your uterus is pushing up well past your navel by now, squishing your other organs as it grows. Feeling shortness of breath is normal under these conditions. Things will go back to normal as soon as your baby is born. Take it easy – don’t be too hard on yourself. Gentle exercise is fine. It’s important to know when to stop exercising for both yourself and your baby.

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    Leaking Urine

    Some pregnant ladies find that when they cough, sneeze, or laugh that they lose urine. This can be very frustrating or embarrassing and is caused by the baby putting pressure on your bladder. The best thing to do is to wear a pad and make sure you completely empty your bladder when you use the toilet. Do this by bending forward as far as you can when you urinate.

    Common Symptoms this Week

    Each week of pregnancy poses new problems for you to solve. Some of them hang around until the end of the pregnancy, while others tail off and are forgotten about. You may find that you have some of these difficulties on week 31 of pregnancy:

    Sleep Problems

    Sleep problems during pregnancy occur for several reasons. Constant bathroom breaks are at the top of the list, while worrying can also cause problems, especially for inexperienced mothers. After you empty your bladder at the toilet, have another go and see if you can empty it again. This is called double voiding and will help ensure that your bladder is completely empty. Worrying is common during pregnancy, so don’t get caught up in a cycle of anxiety. Instead, have a chat with your midwife about what’s bothering you. And remember that most of what we worry about turns out absolutely fine in the end.

    Pregnancy Brain Fog

    Yes, it’s true. You may find it difficult to concentrate from this point on. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up, though. This is something that’s completely out of our control. Instead, we should get clever and put some measures in place to limit damage. Use your phone as a tool to remember pieces of information, or write everything down in a little book you carry around with you. In the workplace, this can be very frustrating and can damage your self esteem. Don’t be hard on yourself – you can only do your best. Your workmates will understand, and hopefully your boss will be compassionate too.

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    Varicose Veins

    These veins are a result of the uterus putting pressure on blood vessels, pregnancy hormones, and increased volumes of blood. It’s best to do small amounts of low key exercise when you can – the more often the better.

    Backache

    Your back arches under the pressure of the growing uterus, leaving many women in terrible pain. Consider some gentle stretching exercises to help with flexibility – yoga would be a good option. Also make sure you have a maternity pillow, which is vital for comfortable sleep.

    Awkwardness

    Even a pregnant ballet dancer will suffer from some degree of clumsiness at this point in the pregnancy. It’s difficult to gauge how much space you take up, so you bump into things and knock stuff over. That’s okay, not to worry. Just be careful when cooking and using the bathtub or shower.

    Tips this Week

    Start by making a list of everything you need to bring to the hospital and gather it all up now. Of course, you shouldn’t expect to be there anytime soon – it’s simply good to be prepared.

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    Don’t bother with a bumper for your crib – they look cute but they could cause your baby to suffocate. The same goes for pillows and cuddly toys. There will be plenty of time for them later.

    Best of luck over the coming weeks, this is a truly wonderful time. Never mind all the little discomforts – they will be worth it in the end.

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    Published on November 30, 2018

    Signs of Postnatal Depression And What to Do When It Strikes

    Signs of Postnatal Depression And What to Do When It Strikes

    Postpartum depression (PPD) strikes about 15% of women around childbirth.[1] Moreover, this mood disorder is estimated to affect 1% to 26% of new fathers.[2] The causes of which are thought to be linked to hormonal changes, genetics, previous mental illness and the obvious change in circumstance.

    The stigma of mental health – with or without support from family members and health professionals – often deters women from seeking help for their PPD. In this article, I will show you 10 ways to begin overcoming PPD.

    Symptoms of Postnatal Depression

    Postnatal depression is defined as depressive disorder, beginning anytime within pregnancy up to the first year of the child’s life. The symptoms of post natal depression are the same as those of depression. In order to receive a diagnosis from the doctor, 5 symptoms must be shown over a two week period. The symptoms and criteria are:

    • Feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness, nearly every day, for most of the day or the observation of a depressed mood made by others
    • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
    • Weight loss or decreased appetite
    • Changes in sleep patterns
    • Feelings of restlessness
    • Loss of energy
    • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
    • Loss of concentration or increased indecisiveness
    • Recurrent thoughts of death, with or without plans of suicide
    • Lack of interest or pleasure in usual activities
    • Low libido
    • Fatigue, decreased energy and motivation
    • Poor self-care
    • Social withdrawal
    • Insomnia or excessive sleep
    • Diminished ability to make decisions and think clearly
    • Lack of concentration and poor memory
    • Fear that you can not care for the baby or fear of the baby
    • Worry about harming self, baby, or partner

    Should you, a friend or your partner be showing any of these signs, I recommend you to seek medical advice.

    Causes of Post Natal Depression

    It is worth noting here that there is a difference between what is commonly known as ‘The Baby Blues’ and post natal depression.

    Postpartum blues, commonly known as “baby blues,” is a transient postpartum mood disorder characterized by milder depressive symptoms than postpartum depression. This type of depression can occur in up to 80% of all mothers following delivery. The Baby Blues should clear within 14 days, if not it is likely an indicator of something more in depth.

    It is not known exactly what causes post natal depression, however there are some correlating factors. These factors have a close correlation and haven’t been shown to cause PPD:

    • Prenatal depression or anxiety
    • A personal or family history of depression
    • Moderate to severe premenstrual symptoms
    • Stressful life events experienced during pregnancy
    • Maternity blues
    • Birth-related psychological trauma
    • Birth-related physical trauma
    • Previous stillbirth or miscarriage
    • Formula-feeding rather than breast-feeding
    • Cigarette smoking
    • Low self-esteem
    • Childcare or life stress
    • Low social support
    • Poor marital relationship or single marital status
    • Low socioeconomic status
    • Infant temperament problems/colic
    • Unplanned/unwanted pregnancy
    • Elevated prolactin levels
    • Oxytocin depletion

    One of the strongest predictors of paternal PPD is having a partner who has PPD, with fathers developing PPD 50% of the time when their female partner has PPD. [3]

    Ways to Overcome Post Natal Depression

    1. Seek Medical Help

    As knowledge of PPD grows, more and more physicians are becoming aware of the indicators and risk factors. This means that health care providers are looking for signs as early as their first prenatal care visit.

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    If you are at risk, letting your provider know early in your pregnancy means that you’ll be given extra support and care throughout the process. It is best to seek treatment as soon as possible.

    If it’s detected late or not at all, the condition may worsen. Experts have also found that children can be affected by a parent’s untreated PPD. Such children may be more prone to sleep disturbances, impaired cognitive development, insecurity, and frequent temper tantrums.

    2. Therapy

    This is the first line of defence against post natal depression and will commonly be prescribed alongside medication. Around 90% of post natal depression cases in women are treated with a combination of the two treatments.

    You don’t need to do anything special to prepare. Your counselor will ask questions about your life, and it’s important you answer honestly. You won’t be judged for what you tell, and whatever you talk about will be just between the two of you. Your counselor will teach you how to look at some things differently, and how to change certain habits to help yourself feel better.

    Therapy is personalized for everyone, but women in counselling for postpartum depression often discuss topics including; who you’re feeling, your behaviour, your actions and your life. (If you need immediate support please call the San Diego Access and Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240. The toll-free call is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.)

    3. Medication

    There have been a few studies of medications for treating PPD, however, the sample sizes were small, thus evidence is generally weak.

    Some evidence suggests that mothers with PPD will respond similarly to people with major depressive disorder. There is evidence which suggests that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are effective treatment for PPD.

    However, a recent study has found that adding sertraline, an SSRI, to psychotherapy does not appear to confer any additional benefit. Therefore, it is not completely clear which antidepressants are most effective for treatment of PPD.

    There are currently no antidepressants that are FDA approved for use during lactation. Most antidepressants are excreted in breast milk. However, there are limited studies showing the effects and safety of these antidepressants on breastfed babies.

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    4. Communication with Partner

    Don’t blame yourself, your partner, close friends or relatives. Life is tough at this time, and tiredness and irritability can lead to quarrels.

    ‘Having a go’ at your partner can weaken your relationship when it needs to be at its strongest. It can be a huge relief to talk to someone understanding.

    By spending time with your partner doing activities that you both enjoy, like going for a walk, can really help. This change of state, from moving location, can significantly elevate mood whilst providing ‘neutral ground’ in which to open up communication.

    Be honest with your partner and show ways in which they can support you best through this time, even if it’s just talking or letting you have time to go take a shower.

    5. Self Care and Rest

    Don’t try to be ‘superwoman’. Try to do less and make sure that you don’t get over-tired. It’s common that women are the experts at ‘being busy’ and ‘doing it all’.

    Rest whilst the baby is sleeping, and really take time to prioritise yourself. Throughout life, if you’re constantly giving out energy, you will be left feeling unbalanced. It’s important to become aware of one’s energy and making sure to give yourself energy first, before giving out is imperative.

    Your body has just been through the trauma of the birth, which is very stressful. It therefore needs time to recover so taking time to yourself is important. Things as simple as a cup of tea, or shower or listening to music will really help.

    6. Supplementation (especially DHA)

    St John’s Wort is a herbal remedy available from chemists. There is evidence that it is effective in mild to moderate depression. It seems to work in much the same way as some antidepressants, but some people find that it has fewer side-effects.

    One problem is that St John’s Wort can interfere with the way other medications work. If you are taking other medication, you should discuss it with your doctor. This is very important if you are taking the oral contraceptive pill. St John’s Wort might stop your pill working. This can lead to an unplanned pregnancy.

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    It is also worth noting that fish oil (containing DHA) is being shown to correlate with lower instances of PPD. DHA consumption during pregnancy — at levels that are reasonably attained from foods — has the potential to decrease symptoms of postpartum depression,” conclude study researchers led by Michelle Price Judge, PhD, RD, a faculty member at the University of Connecticut School of Nursing.

    7. Movement

    Before starting any exercise program, you should consult with your doctor and find a fully qualified pre and post natal specialist. That being said, there is plenty of movement that can be done prior to ‘hitting the gym’, such as walking.

    Not only does being outside positively benefit you by getting some fresh air and vitamin D. The same is said for your baby, who will likely sleep better once they’ve been outside. Exercise gets your endorphins going, which helps alleviate depression symptoms, It can also get you focused on something for yourself. In an analysis of data from 1996 to 2016, researchers discovered that moms who stayed physically active after birth experienced fewer depressive symptoms.[4] In contrast, one study found women who led a more sedentary lifestyle were, in general, more likely to experience postpartum depression in the first place. [5]

    The type of workout doesn’t matter much. Yoga for pregnant women, stretching, and cardio are essentially equal in terms of making you feel better.

    8. Socializing and Support Groups

    Do go to local groups for new mothers or postnatal support groups. Your health visitor can tell you about groups in your area. You may not feel like going to these groups if your are depressed.

    See if someone can go with you. You may find the support of other new mothers helpful. You may find some women who feel the same way as you do.

    9. Accept Help

    Some cultures believe that the symptoms of postpartum depression or similar illnesses can be avoided through protective rituals in the period after birth. Chinese women participate in a ritual that is known as “doing the month” (confinement) in which they spend the first 30 days after giving birth resting in bed, while the mother or mother-in-law takes care of domestic duties and childcare.

    Whilst this may seem extreme, it’s worth noting that being able to accept help from your friends, partner and family can be extremely beneficial.

    10. Avoid Smoking, Drink and Drugs

    Which may seem common sense, however you may be tempted by the short term ‘fix’.

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    Don’t use alcohol or drugs. They may make you feel better for a short time, but it doesn’t last. Alcohol and drugs can make depression worse. They are also bad for your physical health.

    Final Thoughts

    Most women will get better without any treatment within 3 to 6 months. One in four mothers with PND are still depressed when their child is one-year-old. However, this can mean a lot of suffering.

    PND can spoil the experience of new motherhood. It can strain your relationship with your baby and partner. You may not look after your baby, or yourself, as well as you would when you are well.

    PND can affect your child’s development and behaviour even after the depression has ended. So the shorter it lasts, the better.

    Sometimes there is an obvious reason for PND, but not always. You may feel distressed, or guilty for feeling like this, as you expected to be happy about having a baby. However, PND can happen to anyone and it is not your fault.

    It’s never too late to seek help. Even if you have been depressed for a while, you can get better. The help you need depends on how severe your illness is. Mild PND can be helped by increased support from family and friends.

    Featured photo credit: Derek Thomson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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