Picture and Explanation of How Your Baby is Growing and Developing at 40 Weeks Pregnant (at term)
The bladder is compressed between the baby's head and the pubic bones, with no room for expansion except up into the abdominal cavity. The pelvic colon is pushed up out of the pelvis and compressed against the sacrum. Pressure on the blood vessels at the brim of the pelvis interferes with the return circulation from the swollen veins in the vulva, anal region, and lower extremities.
Common discomforts you may experience during the last weeks of pregnancy are frequent urination, increased constipation, edema (water retention), and aching of the legs and vulva, as well as varicose veins in the vulva, rectum, and legs. These can be explained by several factors, including the position of the uterus, the pressure of the baby's head, the loss of muscle tone, the increased vascularity of the tissues, and the added volume of blood distending the vessels in the pelvic cavity, perineal region, and lower extremities.
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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 6/4/2013