Thursday, 1 November 2018

Pregnancy Update Weeks 28 and 29: growing discomfort and concern over baby's movement


I thought I would document this pregnancy more than I have done with it being my last, but the second trimester has passed by and physically there hasn’t been a lot to say. I’ve blogged about how I feel about gaining weight in pregnancy, my plans to reduce the impact of Pelvic Girdle Pain, my thoughts on having a boy, my anxiety of baby loss and breastfeeding while pregnant, but most of these posts have been about the psychological impact of the pregnancy, not the physical. Hitting the 3rd trimester has been a a little more eventful and included 2 hospital visits to monitor movement.

A pregnant mumma (me) in a black dress at 29 weeks pregnant

What I have been experiencing at 28 and 29 weeks pregnant

Heartburn 

As soon as I turned 28 weeks pregnant my heartburn ramped up a level. I have experienced it a few times throughout the pregnancy, but suddenly, wham no more citrus for me. I had a glass of fruit juice and it was like I had drunk acid. I can’t eat in the evenings if I don’t want to sleep propped up and there is a growing list of foods I need to remember to avoid, like strawberry jam???

Pelvic Girdle Pain Update 

I have also started to get more twinges from my PGP. The modifications to my movement and lifestyle so far helped a lot, but over the last week or so I have noticed more pain. I had a day where I was mostly sitting around working and that evening I was hurting more than I had for a while. It makes such a difference having control over my movements compared to last time when I was commuting to London and sitting around a lot. I’ve also not been swimming as much the last few weeks due to being busy so I think it’s a combination of factors. When I wake up in the morning with pain doing some Pilates has helped to stretch me out and reduce the pain.

Pregnancy sleep problems: insomnia, leg cramps and aches

My sleep has deteriorated recently and there have been a few occasions when I have been lying awake in bed unable to sleep despite being tired. I have also woken up on a few occasions with a cramp in my calf and hopping around the room for 5 minutes hasn’t done much to help me get back to sleep.

It is harder to get comfortable as my bump grows, but my Dreamgenii helps a lot. I have used a Dreamgenii pregnancy pillow in all of my pregnancies. I’m a big fan of it because it has a long sausage shape pillow I can use to support my bump and get my legs in a comfortable position (including stopping them touching which is helpful when I have restless legs). The extra features I like though is there is a small cushion which supports my back and stops me rolling backwards and is joined to the main cushion by a flat centre panel. I have tried a couple of other pregnancy pillows, but the 2 separate cushions attached by the flat section make the Dreamgenii by far the most comfortable for me. Dreamgenii kindly send me a patterned pillow case (in Nature, Grey and Green) to go on my Dreamgenii so it now looks really pretty too.

Me in grey PJs lying in a sleeping position with the dreamgenii pregnancy pillow

A dreamgenii pregnancy pillow on a bed

Bladder Pressure

I have felt a lot more pressure on my bladder recently. I guess it’s the growing weight of the baby or the position he is in, but there have been a few occasions I have been desperate to go to the loo only to do the smallest wee possible when I have raced to the toilet. I don’t remember experiencing that until much later in my other pregnancies.

Mild Contractions

In week 28 I had a few days of very mild contractions. I haven’t felt Braxton Hicks so far in this pregnancy, but when I have had them before they were fairly strong and would only last for an hour or so. The mild contractions I felt recently were multiple times an hour for a few days, but very, very mild. I started wondering if I might have an Irritable Uterus, but fortunately they went away and I haven't felt them again for the last week. 

Concern About Movements

The most worrying thing for me has been a change in movements. The normal pattern of movement for my baby has been to move around regularly throughout the day with the odd kick, but at least once a day he has a really good kick about. Twice I have had a couple of days without the big kick about. The most recent occasion, this week I felt less movement throughout the day too. 

Yesterday morning I had a lot of sugar, which normally wakes bubba up and results in mad kicking and although I had more movement it wasn’t as much as I would have liked. I ended up worrying and called the local Maternal and Fetal Assessment Unit who gave me an appointment and suggested I come in to be monitored. This is the first time across my 4 pregnancies that I have had this sort of monitoring and it provided me with some reassurance.

A monitor with a number of graphs plotted across the screen and a printed trace of the graphs out the bottom

Transducers on a pregnant tummy held on my elastic straps

What happens when you are monitored for Fetal Movement?

In the third trimester if there are concerns about reduced fetal movement you will be invited to have a cardiotocograph (CTG) within 24 hours. If you haven’t been monitored before don't worry, it’s a very routine and non invasive procedure. Two plastic discs (transducers) are strapped to your bump with some elastic. One monitors the baby’s heartbeat (Cardio) and the other measures contractions (Toco). I also had a clip on my finger to monitor my oxygen levels, heart rate and blood pressure. 

You are left attached to the machine for at least 20 minutes during which time you can see a graph plotted out for the baby's heart rate and any uterine contractions. Every so often the midwife came to check me and made adjustments to my position or the monitoring equipment when the baby moved.

They check the print out for a number of things, but basically if the heart rate is within 120 to 160 beats per minute with a small variation (so you should see a zig zag line on the monitor) they will probably be happy. Interestingly though if you are still concerned about movement despite the monitoring looking normal they will invite you for further monitoring. The emphasis seems to be very much on the pregnant woman's perception of what is happening which is great. See here for more information about monitoring for movement at different weeks of pregnancy.

The midwife was happy with what she saw on my trace, but she offered me an appointment to come back the next day. This was for my reassurance and she said she I could cancel if I was happy with the movements before then. She explained if there were any concerns after the second set of monitoring they could arrange a scan to check blood flow etc. On my second appointment that midwife said I could keep coming back as long as I needed to for reassurance, but I was feeling much more confident by then.

Both Midwifes I saw were really lovely and assured me that coming in was the right thing to do if I was worried. Even though the baby was moving while I was in hospital and the monitoring didn’t show any problems, they didn’t make me feel silly for coming in and as I was leaving I was reminded that I could call anytime if I was worried. I was told the opening hours of the unit and that outside of those times the call would go to the Labour unit and I could talk to them instead.

I had got myself in a bit of a state worrying about the movement and knowing that everything looks ok has helped me be much more relaxed.

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