Week 20: Pregnancy Week by Week

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Week 20: How to create a birth plan

Pregnancy ImageChildbirth is not a physical function. The drama of the physical manifestations has blinded its observers to the truth-the birth of a child is the ultimate phenomenon of a series of spiritual experiences, from fantasy to fact and from fact to fruition.

-Grantly Dick Read, MD-Childbirth Without Fear


What’s Happening in Your Body?

Your appetite continues to increase, and you may find that you are not just hungry-you are ravenous! The risk of miscarriage, which is highest in the earlier weeks of pregnancy, is now sharply reduced.

What’s Happening with Your Baby?

By this time, your baby’s ears are fully formed. He can now react to sound. Vernix, a protective waxy substance, has begun to cover the baby’s skin.

Creating a Birth Plan

Many childbirth educators and doulas suggest that you create a birth plan to become clearer about your birth preferences. Doing this will help you to review the decisions you’ve made and will prepare you for labor and delivery.

A birth plan states in writing your vision of the upcoming labor and delivery. It crystallizes your beliefs, states your preferences, and outlines any procedures you would like to avoid. It can be written in any format you prefer-there are no hard and fast rules. For example, you might write your birth plan in chronological order, from early labor to the postpartum period, or you might prefer to list your preferences in order of their importance to you.

A birth plan is not meant to be a script. By its very nature, birth is unpredictable. It is not possible to decide ahead of time how long you’ll be in labor or what complications might occur. Give yourself options so that you do not become frustrated if things don’t go exactly as you’d like.

Follow this link to find Mothering’s sample birth plan. Remember, this format is not etched in stone, but it will give you an idea of things you’ll want to include, such as a statement of purpose, your preferences, and things you’d like to avoid. Review your birth plan several times throughout your pregnancy to see if there are changes you want to make as you learn more and more about the birth process.

Nourish Yourself

There are more than 12,000 phtyochemicals identified so far, and researchers are learning more about these protective compounds every day. Phytochemicals are found in fruits, vegetables, and grains. They contain antioxidants, protect against a range of ailments from heart disease to cancer, stop DNA mutations, and stimulate the immune system. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

No one knows the precise amount the body needs of any given phytochemical in order to function optimally. Researchers do know, however, that most of us are not getting enough of them. They recommend a minimum of nine servings of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. The best way to ensure you are getting all the phytochemicals you need is to eat a rainbow variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Lycopene is a valuable phytochemical found in tomatoes. It can fight against heart disease and certain types of cancer. Try Tomato Basil Soup from Peggy’s Kitchen.

Body Wise

If you’ve never had a massage before, pregnancy is the perfect time to start. Although some doctors caution against massage in the first trimester, once it has passed, the deep breathing and relaxation that you can experience during massage are effective tools to use during pregnancy and at your baby’s birth. Massage can be both soothing and energizing. The deep manipulation of the muscles helps to reduce stress and fatigue while improving circulation. And when you’re less stressed, your baby’s environment is calmer.

Look for a massage therapist who has a good reputation and experience with massage during pregnancy. Some massage therapists have a special table with an opening to accommodate your belly. Others will massage you while you lie on your side. Direct the therapist to any parts of your body that are particularly sensitive.

Natural Soothers

We keep stressing the importance of slowing down and resting while you are pregnant. One way to do that is to lie down for a few moments and Rest Your Eyes. Somehow the scent of rosewater and chamomile makes the rest of you rest, too.

Higher Ground

Twenty Weeks
I am a nest.

Round, warm





and growing

a young life.

Providing comfort

security, love

and shelter.

To you I give of me

and you

miraculous little one

are already able to give so much to us.

Tonight we sit

laughing as you

tell us jokes with your

kicks and prods.

Your movement has changed from butterflies to Luna moths

and now to kicks that Papa can feel, too.

Our faces spread into smiles as my belly and our hands

feel your presence.

We are a family.


Image by Durga Yael Bernhard


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