This scan shows a cross section of your baby's brain, with the two hemispheres clearly seen. From this point on, your baby's brain measurement from one side to the other, taken just above the ear, is used as a reliable indicator of her growth and development.
Your baby's bladder now fills and empties every 30 minutes; she swallows the amniotic fluid, filters it through her kidneys, and then passes it as urine. The bladder volume is tiny at this stage, and even by 32 weeks it will only be 10 ml, reaching 40 ml by 40 weeks. Your baby produces very dilute urine, having only a limited capacity to reabsorb water in the kidney to concentrate the urine. However, the placenta performs most of the kidney functions until birth.
Your baby's blood system can now make and break down blood clots. The placenta has been able to form clots for some time, reducing the risk of bleeding. A small number of white blood cells are now being produced by your baby but she is still relying on yours to fight infection. Her red blood cells contain hemoglobin that transfers oxygen to all the cells of the body. Before birth she has several forms of hemoglobin that differ from yours. These are more stable at a lower acidity and bind more easily to oxygen. This allows your baby's body to extract the oxygen in your hemoglobin for her own use.
This involves testing the amniotic fluid and is normally done at 16-18 weeks (see Diagnostic Tests) It may be offered:
All the usual risks of pregnancy are increased for women having more than one baby. This is partly because hormone levels are higher when there is more than one baby, and, in your case, it will be hard work for your body to carry and nourish three fetuses.
You can expect to be referred to an obstetrician, who will plan your prenatal care with you. You'll have more frequent checkups and scans to check the health and progress of your babies. Although many of the risks are outside your control, if you go to all your appointments and take care of your health, it is likely that you will have three healthy babies.
With triplets, you will probably need to give birth by cesarean section. The average pregnancy length for triplets is 34 weeks.
For more information about multiple pregnancy and details of local support groups, visit nomotc.org, the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs' website .
Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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