OB Pre-Natal Care

Weeks 28-31

Congratulations! You made it to your third trimester. At around 28 weeks, your baby will begin to sense the sound and light from the environment you are in. Your baby may even react by moving or kicking in your womb. Try keeping track of how often your baby moves throughout the day. Learning how to count your baby’s movements can help monitor their well-being and recognize changes in their movement patterns. Another critical part of supporting a healthy pregnancy is your oral health. Poor oral hygiene throughout your pregnancy is linked to negative side effects such as an increased risk of premature birth, low birth weight infants, and pre-eclampsia. Making positive oral health choices can have lasting impacts on both you and your baby.

Developmental Milestones

  • My Baby: They are the size of a head of iceberg lettuce and have fully developed most of their bones. By the end of the 7th month, your baby will measure around 14 inches long and can weigh between 2-4 pounds.
  • My Body: Braxton Hicks contractions, also known as “false labor” or “practice contractions,” are more common during the third trimester. Your breasts may start to leak a yellowish or creamy substance called colostrum or the first milk you produce.

Nutrition Needs

Oral Health 101

The World Health Organization defines oral health as “the state that our mouth, teeth, and gums are in to help us eat, breathe, and speak.” We can protect our teeth and avoid tooth decay through our diet, oral hygiene, and fluoride intake.

    • Consuming a balanced diet that limits the intake of cariogenic foods, foods that cause cavities, and increases cariostatic foods, or foods that protect against decay, can help promote better oral health. Cariogenic foods include high-sugar and high-acid foods like candies, cookies, and sodas, while cariostatic foods, such as crunchy fruits and vegetables, and dairy products like cheese, milk, and yogurt, promote saliva production.
    • Good oral hygiene includes habits that prevent our teeth from decaying. These practices include brushing our teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily to remove any food particles or plaque buildup between and around our teeth. Regularly cleaning our teeth and gums removes bacteria and plaque, or sticky film that forms on our teeth.
    • Lastly, fluoride is a mineral that helps strengthen the structure of teeth to protect against tooth decay. Fluoride toothpaste and fluoridated water can prevent cavities and repair weakened teeth.

Oral Hygiene and Pregnancy

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make your teeth and gums susceptible to bacteria and plaque build-up. This build-up can lead to pregnancy gingivitis, which is when your gums become irritated, inflamed, and bleed. Excessive bacterial growth in a mother’s mouth has also been linked to increased prostaglandins, a hormone-like chemical in the body that signals an early delivery. Mothers with higher-than-normal amounts of plaque in their mouth during and after pregnancy can share these harmful bacteria with their newborns. This is why it is important to follow good oral hygiene.

Tips for Your Oral Health

Here are some tips to start you on the right track:

    • Create a daily routine that includes brushing your teeth twice a day and regularly flossing once per day.
    • Limit sugary or acidic foods and drinks, like carbonated beverages, citrus fruits, and chocolate, to protect your teeth.
    • Rinse your mouth with plain water after any feelings of nausea or vomiting, and wait for up to 1 hour after vomiting before brushing your teeth.
    • Eating crunchy foods, like apples, granola, or snow peas, helps to scrape plaque from your teeth.
    • Schedule a visit with your dentist for a checkup of your overall oral health.

Family Engagement Activity

  • As of 28 weeks, you can start counting how many times your baby kicks in two hours. What can you feel? A hand, elbow, knee, or foot?
  • Count how many times your baby is kicking throughout a 2-hour period. On average, you should feel about ten movements within 2 hours. You should feel baby kicks at or around the same time each day and at least two two-hour periods each day.
  • If you would like more information and guidance on counting your baby’s kicks, check out the Count the Kick’s guide with additional tracking charts here.

Caregiver's Corner

Oral Hygiene and Pregnancy

Dr. Shireen Khan, DMD from CHRISTUS Children’s, is a Pediatric Dental Resident who wants you to know that:

    • Looking after your oral health is essential throughout your pregnancy.
    • When you schedule your next dental visit, be sure to let them know that you are pregnant.
    • Changes in hormones and eating habits can potentially lead to gum bleeding, inflammation, and tooth decay.
    • Dental visits are safe to attend throughout your pregnancy and are recommended for regular cleanings or restorative work.
    • Your oral health affects your baby’s overall health! So, start today making those positive Oral Health changes.