OB ABCs

Week 20

week_20By week 20 of your pregnancy, it’s quite likely you may have already experienced quickening, the first time you feel the baby move that generally occurs between weeks 16 and 24. When quickening occurs, many moms compare it to the fluttering of butterfly wings.

As your pregnancy progresses, that soft, fluttering feeling will be replaced by more robust movements that signal the healthiness of your baby. Your physician may want to know about the rate and consistency of your baby’s movements to help him or her gauge baby’s well-being, so you may be asked to perform a test called a kick count. This is done by lying on your left side and recording how long it takes the baby to move 10 times. Any time of day works for performing the test, but be sure to do it at the same time every day when baby is busiest. The level of activity and sleep schedule for baby is much different from yours, with many babies sleeping 20 to 40 minutes at a time. If you perform a kick count after the evening meal, your baby is likely to be at his or her most active.

The Case for Letting Nature Take Its Course

In a fast-paced society in which time is at a premium, it may be tempting to plan to birth your baby via cesarean section to accommodate a busy schedule or to ensure the physician with whom you’re most comfortable is available to bring your baby into the world. Planned cesareans, however, can have serious consequences for your and your baby’s health. The recovery period following a surgical birth is longer and more difficult. Remember, you will also have the added responsibility of the care of a newborn.

A typical first pregnancy lasts approximately 41 weeks. According to a study published in the Jan. 8, 2009, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, 36 percent of the planned, repeat cesareans considered in the study were performed before 39 weeks gestation. Researchers, who studied more than 24,000 repeat cesarean births performed at 19 of the country’s leading teaching hospitals, found that babies born in the 37th or 38th week of pregnancy had higher incidences of respiratory problems and serious infections than babies born in the 39th week.

It’s important to fully discuss with your provider the pros and cons of each procedure. However, the recommendation from most journals and healthcare organizations is that whenever possible, carrying a child to term and having vaginal birth is the best way to plan for baby.

TIPS

  • Although most women experience quickening between weeks 16 and 24 of pregnancy, thin women or second-time mothers may feel baby’s first movement even sooner.
  • One in three births in the United States today is performed via cesarean compared to approximately one in five births in the mid-1990s, an increase largely attributable to fewer attempts at vaginal birth by women who have had cesareans for previous pregnancies.