You are 38 Weeks and 4 Days 10 days to go…

Could your baby be dreaming already? A lot of his movements are occurring when he’s fast asleep.

Your baby today

Your baby’s neck muscles have strengthened, so the head can be held well away from the chest wall. Once delivered though, the buoyancy provided by the amniotic fluid will be lost and you will need to support your baby’s head at all times while holding him.

Your baby has been practicing breathing since the 10th week of pregnancy but now the pattern has changed from short practice bursts lasting 10 seconds or so, to a regular rhythmic breathing pattern of approximately 40 breaths per minute, just as the baby will breathe after birth.

Eye movements have also matured with periods of rapid eye movement (REM) lasting for just over 25 minutes at a time and rest periods lasting just under 25 minutes. REM sleep is closely coupled with periods of increased activity and a faster heart rate. So, just because your baby is moving it doesn’t always mean that he’s awake.

Although your baby cannot stretch out as freely as before, movements of at least 10 times a day should continue in the same familiar pattern and are a reassuring sign of a healthy baby.

… Nutrition
Fuel for labor

Most hospitals don’t allow women in labor to eat or drink, because if you need general anesthesia, there’s a risk of aspiration. But in 2008, the American College of Nurse-Midwives issued a clinical bulletin stating that allowing a woman in labor to eat or drink provides her with hydration, nutrition, comfort, and can even reduce stress. Ask your doctor if you can eat, and if so, what. A few suggestions: Choose something light, such as soup or broth, popsicles, applesauce, or ice chips—which you can chomp on even if you’re not allowed food. And your partner should snack to keep his strength.

Ask your doctor if you can drink or eat during labor. Drinking will keep you hydrated while your body is working hard.

… Doctor
Q: What is “stripping the membranes” and could I have this instead of being induced if I end up being overdue?
A: Depending on your health and the baby’s condition, and many other factors (for example, you’re more than 42 weeks along, you have high blood pressure, you have an infection), your doctor may induce labor. There are many ways to do this, including stripping the membranes. With a gloved finger, your doctor checks your cervix and sweeps her finger over the membranes that connect the amniotic sac and the uterine wall. The goal of this is to stimulate the release of hormones that may start labor contractions. Although this is likely to be an uncomfortable procedure, it should not cause you actual pain; you will also experience a mucus/bloodstained “bloody show” —following stripping of the membranes, which is quite normal.

The procedure can be done at your doctor’s office or in the hospital . Your doctor will advise you closer to the time.

You are 38 Weeks and 5 Days 9 days to go…

Don’t just wait for contractions—it’s worth familiarizing yourself now with the signs that may mean labor is imminent.

Your baby today

In many ways you will be the best judge of the likely size of your baby, especially if you can compare it with a previous pregnancy. An ultrasound scan can estimate the weight, but as with all other measurements at this time it has a fairly wide margin of error.

When does labor actually start? If it’s your first pregnancy, it can be difficult to recognize the signs that the baby is on his way. Some women get lower back pain that is minor before becoming painful. You might notice a bloody show , which can happen well before true labor actually starts. Your water may break as the sac containing the amniotic fluid bursts open. Even if your water breaking is not accompanied by contractions you should still inform your doctor of what is happening.

Finally, the most obvious sign is contractions: these painful tightenings of your uterus will increase in intensity and become more regular as labor progresses. Contractions are associated with the dilation and shortening of your cervix, so your doctor will examine you to see how far you’ve progressed .

If you think that you have gone into labor, stay calm and telephone your doctor and listen to her advice. Inform her of your symptoms and, especially, describe your contractions. If you are having contractions every 5 minutes that last for one minute (time them), and they’re so uncomfortable that you’re forced to stop what you’re doing, you should think about going to hospital.

Fetal monitoring

If there are no complications or reasons for concern, your baby’s heartbeat will usually be monitored using a handheld device much like the one used during your prenatal appointments. You may be hooked up throughout the entire labor and birth, or your doctor may listen to your baby’s heartbeat every 15 to 30 minutes, which means that you can move around as much as you like in between these checks.

If you’ve had complications in pregnancy, or problems develop during labor, the doctor may monitor the heartbeat using a CTG .

… Doctor
Q: How long am I likely to stay in hospital after the birth?
A: In most maternity units, there’s a degree of flexibility as to how long you remain in hospital. If you want to stay for as brief a period as possible, talk to your doctor. It depends on many variables, but federal law says insurance companies can’t force you to check out before 48 hours for a vaginal delivery, or 96 hours for a cesarean. It is recommended that a healthy newborn stay in the hospital for at least 48 hours. How long you stay in hospital will largely depend on your type of delivery. If you have a vaginal birth, you should be able to go home after six hours, but a cesarean may mean you need to stay in for about three days. If your baby is born early, is unwell, or is struggling to feed or maintain his temperature, you’ll be advised to stay in the hospital. If your baby has to remain in the hospital for a long period, you would have to go home and visit him in the neonatal intensive care unit .
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