Your baby-on-the-way’s total length from the top of the head to the tip of the toes is about 19 ½- 21 ½ inches this week and he or she weighs between 7 ½- 8 pounds now. Your baby is running out of growing room in there! Your baby is so close to being ready for birth. The lungs are the last organ to mature, but they have developed very nicely by this week and are ready to function. You may be quite surprised by how strange your newborn looks when he or she is put onto your chest after delivery, especially if you are a first-time mom. You may have been imagining how your baby will look for the last 9 months (or longer) and when you get a glimpse of him or her, you might be caught off guard by the overall appearance. Immediately, you may notice the color of your baby’s skin, which quite possibly could be a bit pale or even blue-gray right at first. Sometimes it can have a purplish shade to it, but as your baby begins to breathe air and cry, the color will change to a healthy, normal color. It’s not too uncommon for babies’ hand and feet to stay a little blue or purple for a few days.
As you get a good look at your baby’s face, tiny white pimple-like bumps may become apparent. They may be all over his or her face, but most likely most visible on the nose, chin, forehead and cheeks. These dots are called “milia” and are caused from immature oil glands and dead skin cells being trapped underneath your baby’s skin. They are perfectly normal and harmless. Milia will disappear on their own within a few weeks, but may be replaced by small red bumps often called “newborn acne”. You may also see milia inside your baby’s mouth, but they are referred to as “Epstein’s pearls”. These little whitish-yellow cysts are very common. They are most often found on the gums and the roof of the mouth, disappearing within a few weeks.
Did you know the circumference of your baby’s head (the distance around the head) is approximately the same size as his or her abdomen? After your baby is born, his or her head circumference will be measured by the nurse during the physical assessment. The head will be measured using a flexible measuring tape. The nurse will wrap it around your baby’s head just above his or her eyebrows and ears. The point of the largest circumference is the goal. Head growth will be measured at each check-up your baby has. If your baby’s head grows too quickly it could be a sign of hydrocephalus (or “water on the brain”) and if your baby’s head grows too slowly, it could be a sign of developmental problems. Both conditions are fairly unlikely, so don’t worry if your little one appears to have a big head after birth. Babies heads are out of proportion to their bodies, but as your baby grows, it will look more normal to you.
The top of your uterus may have reached as far as it’s going to go; possibly up to 8 inches above your belly button. You’ve probably had your fair share of “practice contractions” within the last couple of months. Now you are likely experiencing increasing Braxton-Hicks contractions as your due dates draws very near. This is your body preparing itself for the real thing, which isn‘t far off! Braxton-Hicks can be undoubtedly annoying and even quite uncomfortable at certain times. You may notice them more after a period of activity by your baby or when you’ve been holding a full bladder. Some women experience more contractions after sex, but Braxton-Hicks let up, unlike real ones. If you’re unsure about whether or not your contractions are Braxton-Hicks or if you’re in labor, give your doctor or midwife a call. In the meantime, drink some water and lie down. If they go away as a result, they’re not labor contractions after all.
You may beginning to become a bit bored with pregnancy as the last few weeks seems to drag on and on. Keep in mind that your pregnancy will be over very quickly and there is only a small window of opportunity left to enjoy creating a life inside you. Concentrate on preparing for your up-coming arrival and enjoy yourself as much as you can! Go shopping for items that you still need to buy or work on decorating your baby’s nursery. Keep a daily pregnancy journal and jot down your thoughts within its pages. Create a special baby scrapbook, if you haven’t already. You can begin adding ultrasound photos and letters or poems for your baby. Don’t forget to add some photos of your round baby belly! Read up on and research decisions left to make such as circumcision (if you’re having a boy), naming your baby, breastfeeding and also what to expect once your baby is born (particularly if this is your first-born).
The food you eat can have a profound affect on your mood, so make sure you’re consuming a well-balanced diet and drinking plenty of water. You could join a prenatal yoga class. Exercising and getting active can lift your spirits. Try taking a stroll through the park. The fresh air and being outdoors is good for you! Plus, walking can help bring your baby down into your pelvis, which can lead to a shorter delivery. Taking time to do special things with your partner is a good way to spend the last part of your pregnancy, as well. Catch a movie or go out for dinner together, because after your baby gets here, you’ll be very busy caring for him or her and may not get the chance to get out (just the two of you) for a while.