Now you're entering your third trimester, your baby is putting on weight rapidly by storing fat under their skin, and their lungs are developed enough that they could breathe air if they were to be born early. Gestational diabetes may be diagnosed in some women in the third trimester. Find out what lifestyle changes might help if this happens.
Your baby's development at 28 weeks
Laying down fat in week 28
By the time you’re 28 weeks pregnant, your baby is fully formed and weighs just over 2lbs1. With the majority of their body systems working well, much of their development now centres around growth. Part of this involves laying down the fat stores1 that will keep them warm after birth.
Your baby is so well developed at this stage that if they were born now, their lungs would be capable of breathing air, albeit with the help of a ventilator2.
Have you heard your baby’s heartbeat recently? As your antenatal appointments become more frequent, your midwife will be checking it more often and you may be able to listen in, either through an ultrasound or a stethoscope. Their heart rate has slowed to around 140 beats per minute at this stage, and your partner may even be able to hear it by putting an ear to your abdomen1.
As your baby grows, they have less space in your womb to move around, so you’ll probably feel even the smallest stretch or kick.
The gift of future health
Keeping a balanced diet while you’re pregnant is vital to ensure your baby gets all the nutrients they need to develop healthily. It’s important for your own health too. Some women develop gestational diabetes while they’re pregnant, usually in their third trimester3. There are a number of reasons why some women may be more likely to develop this condition than others, including being overweight and having a body mass index of over 30 before pregnancy4.
Having gestational diabetes means your body can’t produce enough of a hormone called insulin which controls glucose levels in your blood. As a result, your blood sugar levels may become too high3.
Your requirement for insulin increases during pregnancy because of the extra demands of your growing baby. Throughout your pregnancy you will have regular urine tests to check to see if there is any glucose in your urine which is a sign that your blood glucose level is high. If your glucose levels are too high, it’s more than likely that your gestational diabetes can be treated through a healthy diet and exercise, although some women are given medication. Leaving gestational diabetes untreated can lead to a risk of complications at the birth.
If you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you will be advised how best to manage it. Changes to your lifestyle could include4:
- Eating regularly – don’t skip meals
- Choosing low-GI foods when possible (foods that are broken down more slowly by the body, helping to keep blood sugar levels more stable)
- Eating more fruit and vegetables
- Limiting your sugar intake
- Consuming more unsaturated fats
- Monitoring calorie intake
1. NHS UK. You and your baby at 25-28 weeks pregnant [Online]. 2015. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pregnancy-weeks-25-26-27-28.aspx [Accessed August 2016]
2. Deans A. Your New Pregnancy Bible, The experts’ guide to pregnancy and early parenthood. 4th ed. London: Carroll & Brown Publishers Limited, 2013. p.44.
3. NHS UK. Gestational diabetes - Introduction [Online]. 2014. Available at: www.nhs.uk/Conditions/gestational-diabetes/Pages/Introduction.aspx [Accessed August 2016]
4. Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists. Information for you: Gestational diabetes [Online]. Available at: www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/patient-information-leaflets/pregnancy/pi-gestational-diabetes.pdf[Accessed August 2016].
5. NHS UK. Gestational diabetes – Treatment [Online]. 2014. Available at: www.nhs.uk/Conditions/gestational-diabetes/Pages/Treatment.aspx [Accessed August 2016]
Last reviewed: 8th August 2016
Questions about feeding and nutrition?
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