At a glance:
- Your baby's complexion
- Issues with your lady bits
- Perineal massage
What’s happening to your baby
While your baby’s bones are hardening, the ones in his skull are not fused together yet so they can move and overlap – which makes it easier for him when he’s squeezing himself through the birth canal (and explains why some babies are born with a slightly pointy head)! He’s managing to drink about a pint of amniotic fluid a day – which he urinates. The hair covering his body is starting to disappear, as is his red and wrinkly complexion. Now around 44cm, he weighs about four pounds and five ounces.
What’s happening to you
As well as varicose veins on your legs, some women can get them on their lady bits in pregnancy – they’re called vulval varicosities. Quite the tongue-twister, no? And, if you’re a sufferer, this makes sitting down a torturous experience. So to alleviate your discomfort try sitting on an icepack (wrap it in a tea towel or cloth). Pelvic floor exercises can also ease things – they help the blood to circulate better in the area and strengthen the supporting tissues around the veins. Try putting a small pillow under your bottom when lying down – or elevating the bottom of your bed a bit.
Avoid straining when you’re doing a number two – and if it still hurts, place some folded toilet paper or a sanitary pad in your hand and hold gently against the vulva whilst your bowels are moving. Thankfully, these painful veins should clear up around a month after the birth.
What you may consider doing
So it’s not exactly a relaxing day at a spa, but a simple daily massage of the area between your vagina and anus (aka the perineum) can really help prevent tearing, protect you from needing an episiotomy and promotes speedier healing of the area after the birth. Make sure your hands are clean and don’t do this if you have anything like thrush or herpes.
1. Sit in a semi-reclined position with your knees bent and your legs apart. Lubricate your fingers, thumbs, and perineal area with vitamin E oil (from punctured vitamin E capsules), pure vegetable oil, or personal lubricant. Don't use baby oil, mineral oil, or petroleum jelly.
2. Place one or both thumbs (about half their length) inside your vagina. Press down toward the rectum and toward the sides at the same time. Gently and firmly continue stretching until you feel a slight burn or tingling. Hold this stretch for about two minutes.
3. Slowly and softly massage the lower part of the vagina back and forth in a U shape, and apply pressure downwards and sideways.
4. Finally, massage the tissue between the thumb and forefinger back and forth for about a minute.
5. Be gentle – you don’t want to bruise or hurt yourself (the area is delicate!) During the massage, avoid pressure on the urethra (urinary opening) as this can lead to irritation or infection.
Image courtesy of Your Pregnancy Day-By-Day by Professor Stuart Campbell, published by Carroll & Brown, £9.99