Week 28 of Pregnancy
Your baby is now about 10 inches long from head to rump (just over 15 inches long with his legs stretched out) and weighs about 2 and a half pounds. That makes him 10 times heavier than he was just 11 weeks ago. He's really starting to fatten up from head to toe. His belly is getting round, and his cheeks look ready to pinch.
He continues to pass important milestones. At week 28, he's growing actual hair on his head, his brain now has folds and grooves, and the nerves in his ears have fully formed, making him an even better eavesdropper.
His lungs are making important progress, too. He could now breathe air, but it would be a struggle. He builds up his lungs by breathing amniotic fluid. He also gets the hiccups, which explains some of those jerking motions in your belly.
By now, you have constant reminders that the end of your pregnancy is getting closer. You're growing large, and your doctor or midwife probably wants to start seeing you every other week. These biweekly checkups are a chance to measure your progress and check for possible early signs of trouble.
Among other things, your healthcare provider will measure your blood pressure, one of the vital signs of pregnancy. If your blood pressure rises suddenly from baseline or goes above 140/90, your baby may not be able to get enough of the oxygen and nutrients he needs to grow, making him more likely to be born prematurely and underweight. In many cases, prompt treatment can bring blood pressure under control and prevent complications.
A sudden rise in blood pressure (even if it's still in the normal range) may also be a sign of preeclampsia, a serious toxic condition that can arise any time after the 20th week of pregnancy.
High blood pressure itself usually doesn't cause symptoms, and preeclampsia may be hard to detect at the very early stages without the help of a doctor. Nonetheless, there are many signs that may signal preeclampsia, and both you and your doctor should be on the lookout for them. Contact your healthcare provider right away if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Unusual swelling. Sure, you expect your fingers and ankles to get a little puffy during pregnancy. But obvious swelling in the face and hands that doesn't go away with rest may be a sign of a more serious problem. If you are experiencing these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.
- Rapid weight gain. Again, weight gain during pregnancy is hardly surprising. But if you're gaining more than five pounds a week, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
- Vomiting blood, or excessive vomiting.
- Reduced amounts of urine, no urine, or blood in the urine.
- Unusual symptoms not related to pregnancy, such as rapid heartbeat, dizziness, extreme nausea, ringing or buzzing in the ears, fever, sudden blindness, double vision, and pain in the abdomen.
American Academy of Family Physicians. Pregnancy Calendar. http://kidshealth.org/
Campbell, Stuart, MD. Watch Me Grow. St. Martins Griffin.
Curtis, Glade, MD. Your Pregnancy Week by Week, 5th edition. Da Capo Press.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. High blood pressure in pregnancy. No date given. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/hbp_preg.htm
American Academy of Family Physicians. Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension. http://familydoctor.org/064.xml.