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Pregnancy Week by Week : Week 40 (part 1) - Going to the Hospital

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1. How Big Is Your Baby?

Your baby weighs about 7? pounds (3.5kg). Its crown-to-rump length is about 14¾ to 15¼ inches (37 to 38cm). Total length is 20? inches (51cm). Baby fills your uterus and has little room to move. 

2. How Big Are You?

You probably don’t care an awful lot about how much you measure. You feel you’re as big as you could ever be, and you’re ready to have your baby. From the pubic symphysis to the top of the uterus, you probably measure between 14½ and 16 inches (36 to 40cm). From your bellybutton to the top of your uterus is 6½ to 8 inches (16 to 20cm).

3. How Your Baby Is Growing and Developing

Your baby is fully grown at this point. If you were correct about the date of your last period and your due date is this week, baby may be born very soon. However, it’s helpful to realize only 5% of all babies are born on their due date. Don’t get frustrated if you see your due date come and go. Baby will be here soon!

4. Changes in You

While You Wait to Go to the Hospital

If you’re waiting to go to the hospital and are having pain, there are a few things you can do at home. The following actions may help you manage your pain. At the beginning of each contraction, take a deep breath. Exhale slowly. At the end of the contraction, again breathe deeply. When a contraction begins, try to distract yourself with mental pictures of pleasant or soothing images.

Get up and move! It helps distract you and may relieve back pain. Ask your partner to massage your shoulders, neck, back and feet to help ease tension. It feels good! Hot and/or cold compresses can help reduce cramping and various aches and pains. A warm shower or bath can feel very good.

Your chances of having your baby on the way to the hospital are pretty small. Labor with a first baby often lasts between 12 and 14 hours.

5. How Your Actions Affect Your Baby’s Development

Going to the Hospital

If you preregistered at the hospital before your due date, it’ll save time checking in and may help reduce your stress. If you didn’t preregister, fill out forms early. If you wait until you’re in labor, you may be concerned with other things.

Have your insurance card or insurance information readily at hand. It’s helpful to know your blood type and Rh-factor, your healthcare provider’s name, the pediatrician’s name and your due date.

Ask your healthcare provider how you should prepare to go to the hospital; he or she may have specific instructions for you. You might want to ask the following questions.

• When should we go to the hospital once I’m in labor?

• Should we call you before we leave for the hospital?

• How can we reach you after regular office hours?

Image

A full-term baby has little room to move.
This is one reason fetal movements may slow down in
the last few weeks of pregnancy.

• Are there any particular instructions for me to follow during early labor?

• Where do we go—to the emergency room or the labor-and-delivery department?

Many couples are advised to go to the hospital after an hour of contractions that are 5 to 10 minutes apart. However, leave sooner if the hospital is far away or hard to get to, or if the weather is bad. When you get to the hospital, you’ll be checked for signs of labor.

In the Hospital. A copy of your office chart is usually kept on record in labor and delivery. It contains basic information about your health and pregnancy. When you’re admitted to labor and delivery (or a birthing center), you may also be asked many questions. They may include the following.

• Have your membranes ruptured? At what time?

• Are you bleeding?

• Are you having contractions? How often do they occur? How long do they last?

• When did you last eat, and what did you eat?

A brief pregnancy history is taken. Vital signs, including blood pressure, pulse, temperature and baby’s heart rate, are noted. Tell them about any medical problems you have and any medications you take or have taken during pregnancy. If you’ve had complications, tell them when you first get to labor and delivery. This is also the time to tell them any information your healthcare provider gave you about your last pelvic exam.

A pelvic exam is done to see what stage of labor you’re in and to use as a reference point for future exams during labor. This exam and vital signs are done by a labor-and-delivery nurse (the nurse can be male or female). Only in unusual situations, such as an emergency, will your healthcare provider do this initial exam. In fact, it may be quite a while before you see him or her. In many labors, the healthcare provider does not arrive until close to delivery.

Once You’re Admitted. If you’re in labor and remain at the hospital, your partner may have to admit you to the hospital if you haven’t filled out preadmittance papers. After you are informed about the procedures that may be done for you and any risks involved, you may be asked to sign a form from the hospital, your healthcare provider and/or the anesthesiologist acknowledging you received this information.

After you’re admitted, you may receive an enema. Blood may be drawn. Your healthcare provider may want to discuss pain relief, or you may have an epidural put in place, if you requested one. If you have decided to have an epidural or if it looks as if labor will last quite awhile, an I.V. will be started. You may still be able to walk around.

During this time, you and your partner may be alone, with nurses coming into the room to perform various tasks, then leaving. A monitoring belt may be placed on your tummy to record your contractions and the baby’s heartbeat. The monitoring record can be seen in the room and at the nursing station.

You may not realize it, but having a baby is hard work! You can do it.

Blood pressure is regularly checked, and pelvic exams are done to follow labor’s progress. In most places, the healthcare provider is notified upon your admission to labor and delivery; he or she is then called at regular intervals as labor progresses. Your healthcare provider will also be called if any problem arises.

In some cases, when you get to the hospital you may learn someone else will deliver your baby. If your healthcare provider believes he or she might be out of town when your baby is born, ask to meet those who “cover” when he or she is unavailable. It’s not always possible for your healthcare provider to be there for the birth of your baby.

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