women

Welcome to your Third Trimester (part 50) - The stages of labor and you

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You are 38 Weeks and 6 Days 8 days to go…

Because you’re heading into the final week, you’re bound to feel a little anxious, but hopefully excited, too.

Your baby today

The movements that you feel will usually be concentrated in a few areas since your baby cannot readily change position. Although the character of these movements will have changed, you should still experience many movements each day.

It’s normal to feel a little jittery about your impending labor, especially if it’s your first baby. Try not to keep your feelings bottled up: share anxieties with your partner, since you might find he’s in need of reassurance, too. If you have specific concerns, call your doctor. She’ll be used to handling these worries and will be able to put your mind at rest. Find ways to occupy your mind, even if it’s just doing crosswords, since this will stop you from worrying.

You’re in it together and will need each other more than ever in these final two weeks.

… Dads
The stages of labor and you

There is so much variation in the time taken to complete the first stage of labor  that for one pregnancy a woman might be in labor for days, whereas a subsequent labor might be a matter of hours.

As your partner’s primary support, you have the difficult job of trying to take charge, exude calm, and give emotional and practical support. Don’t hesitate to call the doctor for advice—a short discussion with her may help you to gauge how far through the first stage your partner has progressed. You must allow plenty of time to get to the hospital and you should be familiar with the route well beforehand (see … Doctor). There may be periods when your partner is not lucid, but you will know what she wants better than anyone else. It’s therefore your role to advocate for her and to engage with medical staff when she can’t do so herself. You’ll also know how to reassure and encourage your partner in the right way.

You’ll need to support her in whatever position she chooses to use during the second stage —when she’s delivering the baby—and provide lots of encouragement. In the third stage, once the baby is born, you may cut the cord and might be holding your new baby while the placenta is delivered.

… Doctor
Q: What are the signs that it’s too late to go to the hospital?
A: Generally speaking, if you’re having an uncontrollable urge to push, then that’s the point where it may be too late to reach the hospital before your delivery. If you did find yourself in this situation, call your doctor who will advise you. He or she may arrange to send paramedics to you for the delivery of the baby. Or you can contact the emergency ambulance services yourself and follow their advice while you wait for their arrival.
You are 39 Weeks Exactly 7 days to go…

Use this time in the lead-in to labor to get your partner fully up to speed on how he can help you on the big day.

Your baby today

This baby can easily be seen at this late stage in the pregnancy because there is ample amniotic fluid present. The amount of amniotic fluid at this point is still extremely variable, but it is usually in the region of 0.75 pint (0.5 liter).

It’s a good idea to prepare your partner in advance, and figure out what may help the proceedings once labor does begin. If you’re planning on listening to music during labor, laboring in a tub, or walking around, inform your partner ahead of time what you think you’ll expect from him.

Practice some massage strokes, and teach him how to do them . Some women can’t bear to be touched during labor, but others find it helpful to have their back, or even just their hands and feet, massaged. You won’t really know what works for you until you’re in labor but practicing massage now won’t harm.

If your partner has been going to prenatal classes with you, he’ll be familiar with the breathing and relaxation techniques so practice these together and, if necessary, get advice from your doctor about techniques.

It may be helpful for your partner to speak to male friends or relatives who have recently become fathers. Hearing the experiences of others and learning some do’s and don’ts of being a birth partner might be useful.

Whatever their weight, most babies at 40 weeks are approximately the same length.

Ninety-five percent are between 17.7 in (45 cm) and 21.6 in (55 cm) long. The length of newborn babies is remarkably consistent and relates to skeletal growth, whereas birth weight may vary considerably.

Final preparations

It’s amazing that even after 40 weeks of pregnancy, when labor begins there is still a scramble to get everything organized as you head off to the hospital. So to avoid any last-minute panic:

  • Make sure your bag is packed (see Items for your hospital bag). You may also want to pin up a list of any extras you need to include at the last minute.

  • It’s advisable to keep a small bag of change in your hospital bag to pay for parking, and drinks from vending machines.

  • Decide who will do what: so, for example, perhaps your partner could prepare snacks.

  • Do a trial run of the trip to the hospital—anticipating areas where there is likely to be traffic, seeking out shortcuts, and figuring out where you are most likely to find a parking space. It can also help to time the run at various points in the day, so that you can avoid school-run hotspots or commuter traffic. Also find out how to get into the maternity unit at night.

  • Above all, don’t panic. The majority of parents-to-be do get to the hospital in plenty of time.

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