Your Baby

Your little one’s total length from the top of the head to the tip of the toes is between 19 ½- 20 inches this week and he or she will not grow much more in length between now and delivery. Your baby weighs a little more than 5 ½ pounds and things are getting tight inside the womb. Crooked or curved legs, particularly the lower portion of the legs (the tibia) are not usual at all among babies following delivery. Your little baby’s tight quarters inside the womb may lead to him or her being born a bit bow-legged. Newborn babies tend to stay in a similar position as they were before birth; the fetal position. This position consists of a cross-legged posture from being squashed in the uterus for so long, as it became tighter and tighter. The bones themselves actually take on this curved shape, but they will naturally straighten out on their own after your baby begins walking, usually by the time he or she turns 2. Walking will help your baby’s bones gradually reform.

Some of your new baby’s differences are merely temporary, but on the other hand, some may be quite permanent, such as birthmarks. Take note: some birthmarks tend to fade over time and become much less noticeable and most are completely harmless. Birthmarks are not uncommon among babies and as many as 25% of all newborns have some type of them. Not all birthmarks are present at birth, some develop during the first couple months of life. These discolored spots on the skin can be pink, reddish, brown, black, tan, purple or blue. If you notice a birthmark on your baby that begins to change, make sure you have it checked out by your baby’s doctor.

Did you know your baby’s environment plays a surprisingly large part in shaping his or her emotional tendencies? At this point in your baby’s life, your womb is the only environment he or she has been exposed to. Prenatal psychologists have learned many things about unborn babies’ emotions with the help of improved technology. They have discovered there is a definite connection between babies’ emotions and their mother’s. Of course, emotions can’t cross the placenta, but hormones do. Mothers that are stressed out produce stress hormones which cross the placenta and lead to the babies they are carrying to become stressed as well. Excessive amounts of stress or depression during your pregnancy can influence your baby and his or her personality later in life. If your baby gets used to feeling chronically stressed, his or her nervous system will overreact, leading to possible emotional problems after birth. Also, major emotional disturbances may, in fact, harm your baby physically. The risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight increases when extreme stress occurs in the mother. To help give your baby the best possible chance at being emotionally healthy, try to minimize your stress level as much as you can and relax whenever possible. Try maintaining a happy and positive mood. When you’re in a good mood, your baby is as well.

Your Body

The top of your uterus is approximately 6 inches above your belly button at this point. Are you worried about your water breaking in a public place such as while you’re walking through the mall? Not too many women have their water break before feeling some contractions. In fact, less than 10% of moms-to-be actually have theirs rupture before experiencing regular contractions. So, chances are good you’ll know (or at least have an idea) that you’re in labor before this occurs. You may already be en route to the hospital when your water breaks. This is a good reason to keep a plastic sheet, garbage bag or towels in your car, just in case you need something to sit on. Many women don’t experience any leakage until they’ve been in labor for quite some time and are at the hospital. It’s not uncommon to need the doctor or midwife to manually rupture the amniotic sac during labor, which is usually done using a tool similar to a crochet hook and it’s completely painless.

When your water breaks, you may feel anywhere from a large, sudden gush of warm fluid (sometimes accompanied by a popping sensation) to a slight, continuous trickle, which you may not even be certain it’s amniotic fluid. If it’s just a subtle trickle, it may be quite difficult to distinguish whether your water has just broken or if you’re having a little urine leakage. If you’re unsure, go to the bathroom. If you notice more leakage, collect some on toilet paper or a pad. If it looks more yellow than anything else, it’s most likely urine. If it’s clear and fairly odorless (or sweet-smelling), odds are that it’s amniotic fluid. If the fluid is greenish in color or anything besides clear, don’t delay in contacting your doctor or midwife immediately. If you think your water has broke, but you’re not positive, contact your doctor or midwife so that they can evaluate you.

If you haven’t already, this may be a good time to learn about your pain relief options for labor and delivery, especially if this is your first baby. If you’re attending childbirth classes, some of your questions may have been answered, but you most likely have many more. Read and research as much has you can on the different ways to manage pain during labor. The more you’re educated on the process of giving birth and how to manage pain, the less fear you will take with you to the delivery room when the time comes for your baby to be born. As far as pain medications go, you may not know what kind you want until you’re already having contractions, but it’s best to find out what’s available at the hospital where you’ll be giving birth at well in advance. Better yet, talk to your doctor or midwife and discuss the pros and cons of each method at your next prenatal check-up.

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