What is it like?
This is a time of hurry-up-and wait, or ideally, of enjoying the last few days of calm before the storm. Your baby is ready to rock and roll, or at least wriggle and squirm on the outside. She has likely stopped gaining weight, and you have too. Now that the long-awaited moment is actually within reach, it’s important to be as calm and mentally prepared as possible.
Your baby’s growth
- Body size
Your baby’s length probably hasn’t changed since last week. He measures between 18 and 20-1/2 inches long – and weighs between 7-9 pounds, although smaller and bigger is also fine too.
- Head characteristics
Your baby’s reflexes are coordinated. His face has filled out, although the bones of his head are still loose to allow him to move through the birth canal.
- Body appearance
Your little one is fully developed, although his fat cells continue to form, filling out any loose skin. Her nails have grown so much that they will require to be cut immediately after birth to avoid scratches.
- Internal organs
Once your baby has “dropped” – moved into your pelvis — your pituitary gland secretes a hormone called oxytocin, which will lead, ultimately, to the uterine muscle contraction. All your baby’s organs are fully developed and are ready to function outside your uterus. The lungs still produce large amounts of surfactant to keep the alveoli opened.
What happens inside your body?
You may be wondering how a watermelon sized creature fits through the narrow opening of your cervix, but that’s exactly what happens, and luckily for the world’s population, many women do it several times. The good news is that in the heat of the moment, your maternal instincts will take over, and you’ll be fine. If you’re anxious, practice your Kegels, breathing exercise or watch any birth videos that you have. Visualization can be a key tool to stay calm and avoid anxiety.
Loose stools or diarrhea are often signs that labor is imminent. They are caused by the release of prostaglandins in early labor, lipid compounds which also causes cervical effacement, softening, etc. Usually, they mean that labor is only a few hours away.
How different will you look?
Your weight has stabilized and all the pregnancy symptoms are still there, except you may have less fatigue. As the baby drops lower in your pelvis, you probably feel increased bladder pressure, or tingling in the legs or pelvis. Kegels will help your need to run to the bathroom, and if it’s annoying, remember that the birth will happen any day now.
If it hasn’t happened already, you may notice the loss of the mucilaginous cap that used to seal your cervix against infection. Essentially, you’ll probably feel a glob of viscous discharge in your panties. When it is tinged with blood, it is called ‘a bloody show.’ Either way, it usually means labor is right around the corner.
How can you care for both of your loved ones?
You’ve got a long time before Junior starts crawling or even doing a bum shuffle, but it’s never too early to baby-proof a house. If you are choosing a hand-me-down crib, remember to choose one made since 1992 that meets safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Material (ASTM). Consider installing a seat belt on baby’s changing table so she doesn’t roll over and fall. Place a rug under the crib and changing table which will soften any possible fall. Nightlights should be at least three feet away from the crib, bedding, and curtains to prevent fire.
Tips to help you go through trimester
Only about 5 percent of women give birth on their due date so if you’re in the hurry up and wait stage, stay calm, and remember you are not alone. “Post-term pregnancy,” “prolonged pregnancy” and “post-date pregnancy” are all words used to describe a labor that goes beyond 40 weeks. If you are two weeks past your due date, your doctor will most likely try to induce labor or if that doesn’t work, schedule you in for a C-section. This is to prevent fetal distress or the complications that could happen if your baby is too large to deliver easily.
There are several things that doctors can do to induce labor. They can strip the membranes of the cervix, also called membrane sweeping. The doctor inserts her finger into the cervix — the mouth of the uterus – and she’ll make sweeping movements to try to separate your amniotic sac from the cervix itself. This sometimes causes the release of prostaglandins. This is uncomfortable, but it’s relatively painless, and can be done at home or in the hospital. Or your doctor may give you the drug oxytocin, which mimics the natural oxytocin that your doctor gives you to induce labor.
You should be proud of yourself for all that you have endured over the past nine months. There have been many months of challenges, aches, pains and discomfort, but you’ve done it. You are about to bring the gift of life into the world. Your life is about to change, in more wonderful ways than you can ever imagine.