As the weeks speed up towards your due date, here's what's going on and what to be thinking about now that you're 29 weeks pregnant. From being aware of your baby's movements to starting maternity leave, find out what else this stage of your third trimester has in store for you!
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What’s happening at 29 weeks?
Here are the key things you can expect from your pregnancy at this stage:
- Your baby will be moving regularly; it's important to be aware of your baby's normal pattern.
- Leg cramps can kick in, especially at night.
- You may experience your first Braxton Hicks contractions.
- You're entitled to start maternity leave from now, if you choose to.
How big is your baby?
Your baby is now about the weight of a 1kg jar of pick 'n' mix, measuring about 15.7 inches long.
By now, your baby is big enough to really jab you in the ribs and kick you in the bladder. The movements are starting to be more obvious from the outside of the bump, too.
You might even notice that your baby gets hiccups – they'll have a more regular, rhythmical bounce to their movement. Some mums-to-be say that it feels a bit like popcorn popping inside you.
When it comes to kicking, there's no set number of kicks a baby should make. What's important is that you get to know what is a normal amount for your baby. By now they will have a regular pattern of waking and sleeping (usually it’s the opposite of yours!).
There's no need to 'count the kicks' either. This used to be recommended, but a large study found it didn't help and just made pregnant women more anxious. Instead, it's now recommended that you try to get a general sense of when and how often your baby moves, so you'll know if it's changed.
If your baby's regular movement has decreased then call your midwife for advice straight away. Don't wait, even if it's the middle of the night. Chances are, there's nothing wrong, but if your baby is in distress then getting medical help quickly can make all the difference.
What's going on with your body?
Leg cramps are common at this stage of pregnancy.
The calf muscles are particularly prone to going into spasm, especially after a period of sitting or lying still. Some experts believe it may be due to the minerals magnesium and calcium being used up by growing your baby.
Relieve the pain by massaging the muscle. You can help prevent it by pointing then flexing your foot a few times before you get into bed.
Your legs may also feel heavy and swollen at this stage of your pregnancy. This is caused by pregnancy hormones, which affect your circulation. The increased blood volume circulating around your system doesn't help, either.
While putting your feet up can relieve some of the symptoms, it’s also important to keep active as this will boost your circulation.
Support tights can also help, as can massaging your calf muscles (or, better still, getting your partner to do it).
You may also notice that your veins are more noticeable under your skin. This is caused by an increase in blood supply generally during pregnancy. You may notice it particularly on your boobs as they start to prepare for breastfeeding over the coming weeks.
And don't worry if you're ravenous ; you're using up a lot of energy to grow and carry a baby in the last trimester. Make sure you eat plentifully and sensibly to fuel yourself!
In fact, now you're in the third trimester, it's finally time to start eating more than you did before you were pregnant. The NHS recommends that you get an extra 200 calories a day in your third trimester – that's the same as two slices of wholemeal toast with margarine.
What to expect this week: Braxton Hicks
Braxton Hicks are contractions that don't mean you're in labour, they're simply the body's way of practising and getting ready.
Although they can kick in at any point during your pregnancy, the third trimester can be a common time for Braxton Hicks to start, if they're going to.
You may have felt some already and panicked that you're in labour. If you're not sure what they are, it's worth knowing a bit more about them so you can be prepared if they do start.
Braxton Hicks are often described as a 'practise contraction'. You may feel a tightening or hardening sensation across your bump that lasts for up to a minute, but without the pain of a contraction. However, it can feel uncomfortable while it lasts.
If you're worried about them or if they are painful or start to become more regular or intense, then don't hesitate to contact your midwife. She'll be able to establish what they are and will bring you in for monitoring if there's any concern.
Once you know that you're experiencing Braxton Hicks, there are things you can do to ease them.
Walking around, changing position, drinking water or simply relaxing and putting your feet up can help – never a bad thing to do during this stage of your pregnancy!
What to do: firm up your maternity leave
If you’ve been working, you can legally start your maternity leave 11 weeks before your due date, which is usually this week.
If you intend to return to work after maternity leave, it can be tempting to work until closer to your due date.
Just bear in mind that this could leave you with little (or no!) time to get organised, rested and build new networks of friends for when you’re at home with your new baby.
If this is your first baby, this is your last chance to catch up on rest. If you already have other children, then take this time for some quality ‘mummy and me’ time, as the arrival of a new baby can make little ones feel anxious and a little insecure.
Find out more about maternity leave benefits and entitlements .
Your 29 week to-do list
1 Spend some time tuning into your baby's movements to get to know what's 'normal'. If you keep forgetting, set reminders on your phone so you can check in with your baby and feel what they're up to at different times throughout the day. If you notice a change in your baby’s regular movement pattern, call your midwife right away.
2 Make sure you're following advice to sleep on your side to reduce your risk of stillbirth. Don't worry if you roll over in the night, just move back onto your side when you notice.
3 It's still a bit early to pack your hospital bag, but now is a good time to start thinking about what you might want to include in it, so you can order anything you don't have.
4 Not got a name sorted yet? Now's a great time to narrow down your choices. Get inspiration here .
5 Take a nap! Between pregnancy symptoms and side-effects, and your baby getting moving just as you lie down, it can be hard to get enough sleep at this stage of pregnancy. Taking catnaps where you can may help you feel better.
What to watch this week...
Get expert tips on what to expect at 29 weeks pregnant from our midwife.
Pregnancy Week by Week
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