Week 19: Talking About Gender

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This is your Pea in the Podcast for week 19 of your pregnancy. I'm Bonnie Petrie joined by Dr. Laurie Swaim, an obstetrician with Houston Women's Care Associates in Houston, Texas.

This week you may want to think about buying some maternity pants, "It's sort of a transition phase and if you are in maternity pants they're usually way huge but this is sort of an in between stage. You definitely, well most women at least, look like they're showing at least a little bit by then." Some lines of maternity clothes will have offerings for moms who are in their second trimester so they're a little smaller and then bigger offerings for the third trimester. But you might still be able to get by with pants with loose fitting waists or by using that trick we told you about before where you take a rubber band and put it around your button and then loop it through your button hole and then put the other end on your button. Now certainly this in between time is no fun, none of your clothes fit just right so you're always just a little bit uncomfortable under your clothes. You're afraid that nobody knows you're pregnant yet and they just think that you're gaining a lot of weight, it's really not a lot of fun. But your stomach is growing and sometimes moms-to-be are nervous about wearing their seatbelts as their waistlines expand. They worry the belt over their belly would injure their baby in an accident. Dr. Swaim says if someone tells you not to wear your seatbelt, don't listen to them. "The seatbelt works appropriately by wearing it and you're most likely to have trauma from a motor vehicle accident than you are from a seatbelt so please wear seatbelts throughout the entire pregnancy and the way it's meant to be worn." Now Dr. Swaim says this is not the only myth or old wives tale she hears from her patients, "People think they can't raise their arms above their head or walk upstairs or carry things or lift things, wear high heels or drink soda. Another thing as far as diet goes Splenda� and Equal� are fine, diet soda is fine. We hear stuff like that, the heartburn: baby has hair; the heart rate has something to do with the sex." None of that is true including that the heart rate can predict your baby's gender. But speaking of ways to predict your baby's gender, you may spend much time this week trying to guess what you're having. Some moms have that big anatomy ultrasound next week and if you haven't found out your baby's gender through a prenatal test or in an earlier ultrasound you may be very excited. Now those who just cannot wait until next week are probably trying all kinds of different things to get an idea about whether they're carrying a Mr. or a Ms., "I guess there's some holding a key on a string over your belly and seeing which way it goes or something like that. I think I heard people talking about that. There's nothing about the way you carry, high or low or anything like that." As she mentioned your baby's heart rate is not indicative of gender although some people will swear up and down if your baby's heart rate is in the range of 110 to the low 130s it's a boy and if it's higher it's a girl. The amount of morning sickness you have has nothing to do with whether you're having a boy or a girl. Some say if you look prettier during your pregnancy you're having a boy. The theory goes on to say if you're having a girl you'll tend to look less pretty because she's taking your beauty away from you. Also your friends may send you a link to a Chinese Gender Calendar that is supposed to help you figure out what you're having based on your age and when you conceived, that kind of thing. That was actually accurate for me but then it had a 50/50 chance of being right. Dr. Swaim says don't waste your time on things unless you know you're having fun with it, she says none of them have any scientific basis. "I will say that is seems that some women have intuition and they have some idea what the baby's sex is." So if you feel strongly that you know what you're having you may just be right. But then again you may be wrong; it's that 50/50 thing again. Your ultrasound next week will give you the best idea if you want to know and even that is not 100% accurate, it's pretty close though.

So you may be stocking up on maternity clothes and you may be noticing some changes in your skin, you may get a dark line down your belly, "It's called the linea negra and it's just with the hormones of the pregnancy and does go away afterwards, as opposed to stretch marks which don't go away." Dr Swaim says you may have some darker pigmentation elsewhere on your body too. Sometimes they get some on their face, it's called melasma, or the pregnancy mask, and the nipples darken also. And the melasma doesn't always go away actually and for women who take birth control pills who have had it, it may get worse. The symptoms of melasma are dark irregular patches and they're commonly found on the upper cheek, on your nose and your lips and your forehead and they develop gradually over time. Now as your skin starts to stretch, it may also start to itch. Lotion can a help ease that annoyance but I have some very, very bad news for you, it will not prevent stretch marks. If you're predisposed to getting stretch marks, you'll get them no matter what you do. But because lotion does ease the itching particularly, if you can get your husband to do it, it may still be worthwhile, it can be bonding and it very relaxing.

Okay let's take a look at your little one this week; it's about the size of a medium zuchinni at about 6 inches long and 9 ounces. He or she is covered with that soft lanugo we talked about last week and that cold cream-like substance called vernix. Under it is your baby's transparent skin though that will appear red now because your baby's blood vessels are visible through it. Your baby is developing millions of motor neurons which are nerves that connect the muscles to the brain and permanent teeth buds are forming behind those already formed milk teeth buds in there. Your baby is ready for its close up which may come with that big anatomy ultrasound next week during week 20. Right now you're 19 weeks pregnant, you have just 21 weeks to go until week 40.

That's your Pea in the Podcast for week 19 of your pregnancy. Dr. Swaim and I look forward to talking to you again next week. Enjoy this week. And for a transcript of any of our Pea and the Podcasts go to our website peainthepodcast.com. For Pea in the Podcast, I'm Bonnie Petrie, thanks for listening.