8. You Should Also Know

How Is Your Baby Presenting?

You probably want to know at what point in your pregnancy your doctor can tell how baby is presenting for delivery. Is the baby’s head down, or is the baby breech? At what point will the baby stay in the position it’s in?

Usually between 32 and 34 weeks of pregnancy, you can feel baby’s head in the lower abdomen below your umbilicus. Some women can feel different parts of the baby earlier than this, but baby’s head may not have been hard enough until now to identify it.

Baby’s head has a distinct feeling. It’s different from the feeling your doctor gets with a breech presentation. A breech baby has a soft, round feeling.

Beginning at 32 to 34 weeks, your doctor may feel your abdomen to determine how baby is lying inside you. This position may change many times during pregnancy.

At 34 to 36 weeks of pregnancy, the baby usually gets into the position it’s going to stay in. If you have a breech at 37 weeks, it’s possible the baby can still turn to be head-down. But it becomes less likely the closer you get to the end of your pregnancy.

Dad Tip

You should also pack for the hospital. Some essential items you might need include magazines, a list of phone numbers, a change of clothes, something to sleep in, a camera, a charged battery, your cell phones and charger, a telephone calling card or lots of change, nonperishable snacks, insurance information, a comfortable pillow and extra cash.

Packing for the Hospital

Packing for the hospital can be unnerving. You don’t want to pack too early and have your suitcase staring at you. But you don’t want to wait till the last minute, throw your things together and take the chance of forgetting something important.

It’s probably a good idea to pack about 3 or 4 weeks before your due date. Pack things you’ll need during labor for you and your labor coach, items you and the baby will need after delivery and personal articles for your hospital stay. There are a lot of things to consider, but the list below should cover nearly all of what you might need:

• completed insurance or preregistration forms and insurance card

• heavy socks to wear in the delivery room

• an item to use as a focal point

• 1 cotton nightgown or T-shirt for labor


Alignment of baby with head in pelvis before delivery.
This is the preferable presentation.

• lip balm, lollipops or fruit drops, to use during labor

• light diversion, such as books or magazines, to use during labor

• breath spray

• 1 or 2 nightgowns for after labor (bring a nursing gown if you’re going to breastfeed)

• slippers with rubber soles

• 1 long robe for walking in the halls

• 2 bras (nursing bras if you breastfeed)

• breast pads for leaking breasts

• 3 pairs of panties

• toiletries you use, including brush, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, conditioner

• hairband or ponytail holder, if you have long hair

• loose-fitting clothes for going home

• sanitary pads, if the hospital doesn’t supply them

• glasses, if you wear contacts (you can’t wear contacts during labor)

You may also want to bring one or two pieces of fruit to eat after the delivery. Don’t pack them too early!

It’s a good idea to include some things in your hospital kit for your partner or labor coach to help you both during the birth. You might bring the following:

• a watch with a second hand

• talc or cornstarch for massaging you during labor

• a paint roller or tennis ball for giving you a low-back massage during labor

• tapes or CDs and a player, or a radio to play during labor

• a camera

• list of telephone numbers and a long-distance calling card

• change for vending machines

• snacks for your partner or labor coach

The hospital will probably supply most of what you need for baby, but you should have a few things:

• clothes for the trip home, including an undershirt, sleeper, outer clothes (a hat if it’s cold outside)

• a couple of baby blankets

• diapers, if your hospital doesn’t supply them

Be sure you have an approved infant car seat for baby’s first ride. It’s important to put your baby in a car seat the very first time he or she rides in a car! Many hospitals won’t let you take your baby home without one.

What You May See in the Delivery Room

You’ll see lots of equipment when you enter the labor and/or delivery room. You won’t recognize most of it, so we include descriptions of equipment you may encounter.

An electronic vital-signs monitor measures your heart rate and blood pressure with a cuff. It tells doctor how well you and baby are doing. I.V. infusion pumps deliver fluids into your veins if the doctor orders them.

There are many types of birthing beds. In many, the bottom section can be removed, converting the bed into a delivery table. Some beds can also accommodate alternate birthing positions.

An epidural pump delivers pain-relief medication after the epidural catheter is put in place by an anesthesiologist. A vacuum extractor helps baby through the birth canal in some cases. An amniohook looks like a crochet hook; it’s used to rupture membranes.

Suction bulbs are used to draw blood and mucus from baby’s nose and mouth after birth and in the days after delivery. An infant warmer helps stabilize baby’s temperature. An infant scale weighs him or her.

Women who listen to lyric-free, instrumental music (synthesizer, harp, piano, orchestra or jazz) for 3 hours during early phases of active labor experience less pain and distress. We believe the slow music helps a woman relax and distracts her from her pain.

ImageFetal Monitoring

A fetal monitor detects baby’s heart rate and contractions, and can be used to track baby’s response to them. It shows contractions and baby’s heartbeat; the readout is seen in the labor room, nurses’ station and possibly on your doctor’s computer.

Each baby needs to be evaluated individually using fetal monitor tracing and other information about your pregnancy. ACOG recommends the use of three categories to describe the results of fetal monitoring.

Category I—Tracings are normal.

Category II—Tracings are indeterminate; this means they aren’t normal, but they aren’t absolutely abnormal. They require evaluation, continued surveillance and re-evaluation. Eighty percent of all tracings fall into this category.

Category III—Tracings are abnormal and require prompt evaluation. Elements used to categorize them include fetal heart rate, variability, decelerations and reaction to contractions.

9. Exercise for Week 36


To help improve your posture, stand or sit on the floor, and clasp your hands behind you. Lift your arms until you feel a good stretch in your upper-chest area and upper arms. Hold for a count of 5, then lower your arms. Repeat 8 times. Stretches arm and back muscles, and opens upper chest.


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