The baby’s little eyes can open and close. We know they’ve been reacting to light and dark for a while, but it can be seen in week 26 how babies protect their eyes with their hands when a strong light is directed at the belly. The big advancement now is happening in the baby’s brain. This is where phase two of the major development starts: the cerebral cortex is developing twists and turns to accommodate all those neurons. A lot has to go right, because the next time the brain rewires will be when your child enters puberty – a bit of dizzying thought that puberty will ever come, now when they’re safe and sound in the womb. The baby understands up versus down. Thanks to the balance organs in the inner ear, the difference is now detectable. The baby is also testing things out, with somersaults and little vaults. You don't have to worry about the baby getting tangled in the umbilical cord – its corkscrew-like shape makes it rather flexible. It consists of a thick gel-like substance that protects the three blood vessels that transport blood between the baby and placenta.
In many places, you have the right to make extra requests of your employer when you’re pregnant. It is generally legally required for the work environment be safe for you and your baby. This may mean your work needs to be modified: you shouldn’t do any heavy lifting or load-bearing tasks, nor should you be in contact with hazardous substances, like solvents or contagions. If your employer cannot guarantee a safe work environment for you, check with the relevant authority where you live to see if there are pregnancy benefits for which you can apply. If you’re in a lot of physical discomfort, you may need to go on sick leave. “Normal” pregnancy isn’t usually considered an illness, but if you’re struggling with an aching back, endless nausea, or if you just need to take it easy in order for the baby to do well, then in some places you can obtain a certificate of illness from a doctor. If you don’t want to work or don’t have the energy to work until your baby arrives, you may be entitled to start your parental leave within a certain number of days before you are due. Check what applies in your area regarding how soon you need to notify your employer before going on leave. But if you want to stay home from work earlier than you had originally planned, talk to your manager and explain how you’re feeling. Maybe you can find a solution together.
Her belly is getting bigger and bigger now. You may have noticed that she’s become a little clumsy. That’s because the body’s centre of gravity has completely shifted, which can be hard to get used to. That growing belly can also cause low back and pelvic pain – the taller your partner is, the worse this tends to be. But pregnancy can serve up a variety of back problems, like sciatica and pelvic girdle pain, so before you run to your nearest chiropractor, talk to your midwife or doctor who can help you figure out what type of treatment you need. It could be a physiotherapist and exercises, acupuncture, or a belt to help bear the load. Some things are always good to keep in mind: even if your partner’s back feels okay now, it’s best to keep it that way and save it. The back is a little more sensitive during pregnancy, so make sure you do as much of the heavy lifting as possible. It’s also important to move every day. If this causes pain, you can suggest taking shorter steps and not walking as far, holding the body upright, avoiding stairs and wearing good shoes – an excellent gift idea if you’re feeling bold. And of course: rest! Resting is super important, and will continue to be so throughout pregnancy. It takes energy to grow a baby.