Week 23: Babymoon

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This is your Pea in the Podcast for week 23 of your pregnancy. I'm Bonnie Petrie joined by Dr. Laurie Swaim, an obstetrician with Houston Women's Care Associates in Houston, Texas.

At this point in the second trimester, a lot of couples think about getting away particularly if this is your first baby. It might be a good time to have a nice long weekend just the two of you before you get too uncomfortable to really enjoy it. Now some people call this escape a 'babymoon'. Dr. Swaim says if you want to, and your doc or midwife agree, go. "As far as I'm concerned, once again, with a low risk patient she can go where she wants and the American College of OBGYN, ACOG say there's no travel after 36 weeks." Babymoons can be booked all around the world and Dr. Swaim says it's fine to travel overseas now. "I've had patients who travel internationally both for business and for pleasure. I think if you're going to a third world country you probably don't want to do that in your third trimester, heaven forbid you deliver some place. On the other hand, I had a patient who needed to go to a wedding in Chicago, well there's really good medical care in Chicago, if you need to go, go." But be aware of what kind of medical care is available where you're going and make sure your health insurance would work for you where you're going and there are a few other things you want to keep in mind: if you're flying somewhere you might consider asking for maybe an aisle seat at the bulkhead wall, the front row of economy class for example. There's a little bit more room there for you to stretch out. Seats over the wing though may give you a smoother ride if that's a concern. Planes are dry so drink plenty of fluids to counteract that and try to walk every half hour or so during a flight to avoid deep vein thrombosis. "We always tell our patients to make sure that they move around and even if they're in a car, get out and take a walk here or there, make sure you're doing those little ankle rolls and that kind of stuff." When you get to your destination many places offer special babymoon packages that include spa services and spoiling for both partners but some people like a more active babymoon so what can you do? "Snorkeling is fine, no scuba diving, it's at this point not a good idea. Hiking, just the usual stuff, make sure you're well hydrated, if you want to sit your butt on the beach do wear sunscreen. Skiing, that's something that's come up recently, during the first trimester especially, remember the uterus, it's in the pelvis, and so most activities are fine. If you are great expert skier and you want to ski past that then it's sort of up to you. The only risk is if you fall down, even then likely things will be okay, but you don't know if you go tumbling down a mountain there could be trauma to the baby or abruption or something like that. There are no studies and there's no data on this so sometimes you have to use your common sense." If you have specific question about any activity which you think you would like to participate on your trip your doctor and midwife are ready to answer you.

If this is your last grand romantic get away before partners become parents you're probably wondering about sex, what's okay, "manual sex, oral sex and intercourse are all fine. Once again as long as your doctor hasn't told you otherwise and if you have placenta previa do not have sex." In fact, a lot of women say they love sex during the second trimester and they want to have a lot of it which is probably a relief to your partner since many women don't want to have sex at all for much of the first trimester. Now pregnant women sometimes find they have a lot of vivid, even x-rated dreams throughout their pregnancy too, thank you hormones. Some men though have a little trouble thinking about sex with the mother you're becoming or are worried they'll hurt the baby. Most couples are able to talk through this and your doctor could clear up any misconceptions your partner may have about the possibility that sex could harm the baby. Another concern that some people have about sex is nipple stimulation. Nipple stimulation is something moms to be do need to be aware of, "I think there's actually one of the popular mother-to-be books, I don't know if it's still in there, but it used to say if you're going to breastfeed then you should rub your nipples with a towel starting at 26 or 28 weeks to toughen them up. It's true that nipple stimulation causes oxytocin release from the pituitary and it causes you to contract so I think that's one of the stupidest pieces of advice you can give women. Dr. Swaim says the kind of stimulation that might come from sex right now is unlikely to make you have contractions, ask your doctor though if you're concerned. No matter what you decide to do though if you travel, try to rest as much as possible while away, enjoy yourself but don't over do it because even when you're resting your body is still in high gear building that baby.

So while you're having randy dreams your baby may be having dreams of its own, rapid eye movement begins this week, it can be seen on ultrasound. The bones of the inner ear are also hardening while the little ones working hard to add fat. They do still though look pretty thin and wrinkly in there and their translucent skin looks very red. Very important around this time, your baby's lungs will begin to develop surfactant, that substance is key in allowing your baby's lungs to expand following birth. Also his or her fingernails are completely formed. Your baby is now about 8 inches long and weighs a little bit more than a pound. You're 23 weeks pregnant; you have 17 weeks to go until week 40.

That's your Pea in the Podcast for week 23 of your pregnancy. Dr. Swaim and I look forward to talking to you again next week. Enjoy this week. For a transcript of any of our Pea in the Podcasts go to our website peainthepodcast.com. For Pea in the Podcast, I'm Bonnie Petrie, thanks for listening.