Your baby is now capable of producing all of the enzymes that will process food within the digestive tract. If born early, your baby could now feed normally although some will still require help since they need to fine tune the coordination of their suckling reflexes.
Eighty percent of your baby's energy needs are met by carbohydrates, mainly in the form of glucose, and almost 20 percent from protein. Fat is not used as an energy source but it is used for growth. All mineral, vitamin, and calcium needs are met from your own reserves and your diet. Two possible exceptions are iron and folate, a water-soluble vitamin that occurs naturally in foods; folic acid is the synthetic version. Folate does not easily cross the placenta to reach and nourish your baby. Your own iron reserves may already be low if you eat little or no red meat or if this pregnancy has followed on quickly from your last one. Your baby needs iron (and folate) to make red blood cells and because only a small percentage of iron in your diet is absorbed, iron supplementation is often recommended at this stage.
While all of your baby's gut structures were present by 20 weeks, it is not until this stage that all the enzymes needed for digestion are activated and the absorptive surface of the gut is established to a degree that would enable your baby to feed if she were born now.
After you've exercised on the floor, or have been resting in bed, you may find it a struggle to get up from lying down. This simple maneuver can put a strain on your abdominal muscles, which are stretched, and it isn't helped by your altered center of gravity. The technique shown below was originally devised by yoga teachers to help you get up safely from a lying down position.
As with any strenuous maneuvers at this stage of pregnancy, always take your time and remember to breathe slowly and deeply throughout.
Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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