26 weeks and 6 days pregnant

At this stage, thumb sucking is becoming much more co-ordinated as the sensitive lips and fingers meet. On scans most babies look as if they enjoy it, and there’s no doubt that it provides important sensory feedback and perhaps reassurance to your developing baby.

The thought of being off work in the last months of pregnancy is tempting, but it will give you less time off with your baby.

As long as you’re feeling in good health, try to work into the last month of your pregnancy. It can be particularly frustrating if you finish two months before, only to find that your baby is born later than expected. Working as late as possible may also allow you to spend some time with your replacement. If you’re finding work tiring, try to adapt your working day and avoid travelling in the rush hour, if possible. Whenever you start your leave, colleagues may hold a party and want to buy gifts for your newborn. If you’re asked what you want, suggest gift vouchers as these will allow you to purchase some of the more expensive baby equipment, and prevent duplication of gifts. Many shops also offer gift lists for babies, which are a good way to choose the items you want.

One of the most common pregnancy complaints, back pain is generally a reaction to your increased weight and the laxity of the joints that are an integral part of pregnancy. There are some ways to alleviate this, and anecdotal evidence suggests that women who exercise are far less likely to suffer from extreme back pain than those who don’t.

It is best to try to avoid back pain by exercising your abdominal muscles, which will give your back support, and keep your legs and arms strong too.

Carrying does not end when you have had your baby. You will have a car seat, baby bag, and perhaps shopping to carry, as well as your newborn. So it’s best to keep your muscles strong throughout your pregnancy to prepare for this. Here are five top tips to avoid back pain in the third trimester:

  • Stay strong: strength training for all parts of your body will help you to cope with the increased weight you gain during pregnancy.

  • Support: invest in a support belt that will give your back a break from bearing the load of your bump. It will also support your sagging stomach and may relieve discomfort in your legs. This can be particularly useful if you’re carrying twins or more.

  • Sleep: while sleeping, place a pillow between your legs to ease the stress on your back. Buy or borrow a shaped pillow that gives your belly and back support at the same time.

  • Stretch: flexibility will help your back to relax and avoid your muscles getting too tense.

  • Sit: keep your back supported by the back of a chair. Use a pillow to increase the support in your lower back, if necessary. If you work at a desk, make sure your chair adequately supports your back.' style='max-width:100%'/>

Stretching helps to prevent your muscles from tightening, so you feel less tense and more relaxed. Put on some comfortable clothes and stretch as often as you can, and always stretch before and after exercise.

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