Even if you have enjoyed your pregnancy, you may be longing for it to be over
The baby is nearly ready, you are more than ready, so when is the birth going to happen? Probably not yet – especially if this is your first pregnancy. For another week or so, the uterus is still the best place for your baby while the finishing touches to her development take place. If you have other children, you can tell them that their new brother or sister won’t keep everyone waiting much longer.
1.Parts of the skeleton, particularly the long bones of the arms and legs, have hardened, a process known as ossification.
2.The hands may be curled into fists, grasping the umbilical cord, or free-floating with fingers outstretched. The grasp reflex is very strong.
3.The head may now be fully engaged. At this stage there are several normal variations in position and the direction in which the baby is facing.
4.At 38 weeks the average crown to heel length is 49.8cm (19.6in) and the average weight is 3.1kg (6.8lb).
5.The placenta has reached its full size and is spread out like a plate. It will continue to function for the full duration of the pregnancy.
Just as your baby is preparing for life his/her outside the womb, at 38 weeks your body is also preparing for the big day. You’re getting very close to finally meeting your baby. By this week your baby should weigh approximately 2.8-3.2 kg.
What are you about to experience?
At this point in your pregnancy, you may experience some swelling in your feet. This is usually a normal part of pregnancy, especially towards the end couple of weeks. You could speak to your doctor on the labour positions and how you want to be seated while you push.
Your baby’s development
Even though your baby is considered full term after week 37, it is still better for the baby to remain in the womb for longer.
Your baby is continuing to grow in your belly, but the majority of the organs are mature and fully functioning. The only exceptions are your baby’s brain and lungs. These two organs can function outside of the womb at this point, although they will continue to mature during your baby’s childhood. The baby's digestive system now contains meconium which is the sticky, green substance that will form your baby's first poop after birth.
Changes in you
This week you may undergo swelling in your feet. Apart from that you can also feel itchy on your belly, or loose bowel movements. But these two changes are usually the most prominent.
- Frequent urination: If you're going to the bathroom a lot these days, it's because your baby's head is in your pelvis and is making less room for your bladder.
- Contractions: Braxton-Hicks contractions might be kicking into high gear by now. If you feel irregular, painless, squeezing sensation in your abdomen, this may be Braxton Hicks. Braxton Hicks contractions can begin as early as the second trimester, however, they are most common in the third trimester. The muscles of your uterus tighten for approximately 30 to 60 seconds or as long as 2 minutes. Braxton Hicks are also called “practice contractions” because they will prepare you for true labour contractions. At irregular intervals, they could be thinning out your cervix in preparation for delivery. Changing positions, drinking water, or resting can help calm a difficult time. If you can time the contractions or they get stronger, you might be in early labour.
You may feel you are waiting for something to happen hoping this would be the last night before the baby's born. But you can't control when it will happen. While you wait for the labour to begin, there are plenty of things you can do to get ready for your child’s arrival. Firstly, pack your hospital bag. Your bag should include the following: hospital papers, all your reports, insurance papers (if any), extra pair of clothes for you, nursing bras, baby’s clothes, baby blanket (if you are delivering in winter), toiletries, your phone charger, and camera. Secondly, rest as much as you can. A calm mind is the best thing you can gift yourself and your baby before it enters the world.
Nutrition for you
In pregnancy, your body goes through many physical and hormonal changes. The way you feed your body during this time will affect the health of your baby. That is why we stress the fact that you must eat a balanced diet. The food you eat is the main source of nourishment for your baby, so it’s important to eat nutritious foods.
- Proteins: Protein intake is very important during pregnancy. It ensures proper growth of your baby, including baby’s brain. Proteins also help in increasing blood supply, allowing more blood to be sent to your baby. Best foods containing proteins are nuts, dals, yogurt, eggs, chicken etc.
- Carbs: Since you are almost ready to deliver your body needs all the extra energy you can give it. So, include healthy carbs in your diet which you can get from fruits and vegetables and wholegrains. Carbs help in building up energy and also keep the mind stress-free.
A change in energy levels is pretty common this week. You may be ever more exhausted or you may get a burst of energy (also known as the nesting instinct) as you try to clean the house before the baby comes. Go ahead and clean, but don't tire yourself out. Save that energy for childbirth.
Having a few worries in this stage of pregnancy is nothing unusual.
- Mucus plug: As your body begins to prepare for labour you will pass the mucus plug (yellowish substance which blocked the opening of the cervix to prevent bacteria from entering during your pregnancy). Passing a mucus plug is a sign that your cervix is dilating, and your body is starting to prepare for birth.
- Colostrum leaks: Your breasts may be bigger and leaking colostrums (Colostrum is the first stage of breast milk that occurs during pregnancy and lasts for several days after the birth of your baby. It is thicker than the milk that is produced later in breastfeeding). If they're not leaky or bigger, don't worry. Neither is a sign that you'll have difficulty breastfeeding.
What do the experts suggest?
“Sometimes we ask the moms to undergo a Non Stress Test (NST). It’s nothing serious though – you will be asked to lie down, and a fetal monitor will be attached to your abdomen. You will push a button every time you feel your baby move, and the monitor records your baby’s heartbeat. This is usually done for us to know if your baby is under any stress in your womb. The experience can be overwhelming, but I request you to cooperate with your doctor.”
Dr. Sangeeta Malhotra
CGHS Maternity and Gynea Hospital, Delhi
What do some of the moms say?
Let’s hear what moms have to say.
“I had a bicornuate uterus (commonly referred to as a "heart-shaped" uterus, is a uterus composed of two separate chambers separated by a septum) and naturally my baby had less space to grow compared to a baby growing in a normal shaped uterus. For precautionary measures I underwent 4-5 NSTs in my last few weeks of pregnancy. It was overwhelming at first but later I tried bonding with my baby whenever he moved in my womb,” shares Himadri Gulati.
“I remember going for my regular check up and my doctor advised me to do pelvic exercise to prepare me for labour. I suggest all moms to practice those exercises for a smooth birthing experience,” shares Richa Bhasin.
Seasonal Pregnancy Care
Pregnancy requires care, despite any season, but sometimes you need extra attention.
Summer: Stretched skin caused by pregnancy weight gain is already dry, and summer heat and sun may drain your skin of needed moisture. Apply a lotion immediately after your bath.
Monsoon: The heat and humidity of the season, coupled with urine leak episodes can expose you to UTI. Maintain optimal vaginal hygiene by keeping yourself dry, changing underwear frequently and opting for panty liners when going out. Also, do not hold the pee as even a small sneeze can cause leakage.
Winter: Opt for herbal teas. Prepare it by boiling tulsi leaves and ginger. Add a dash of honey, if you like it sweet. It's best not to drink too many cups of regular tea (with milk) or coffee. Too much caffeine can lead to dehydration. Fight off the winter blues by keeping your mood upbeat.
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