Your Baby

Your little one’s total length from the top of the head to the tip of the toes is between 20- 21 ½ inches this week and he or she weighs between 7 ½- 8 ½ pounds now, although full-term babies‘ weight at birth varies quite a bit. Congratulations, you have made it to your due date! You must be so excited as your baby will make his or her appearance any day now, after many months of anticipation! Your pregnancy has just about come to an end, although if your baby doesn’t arrive this week, don’t worry because may babies are born past their estimated due dates. This is especially true if this is your first baby. Remember, it’s only an estimate. Dates can be off a few days or even a couple of weeks. Your little one will arrive on his or her own time. Enjoy the last few wondrous days of being pregnant.

Oh-so-soon you’ll be holding your precious little one, if you’re not already. As you look down at your baby wrapped snuggly in his or her blanket, remember that not all newborn’s faces are at their peak of cuteness. Facial features may look a bit different than you’ve been picturing in your mind for 9 months. As the expression goes, “..a face only a mother could love..” your baby’s face may appear somewhat misshapen for a while. Your baby’s eyelids may be puffy due to pressure during delivery and you may even notice that your baby looks somewhat cross-eyed, because of extra folds of the skin. Your baby’s eyes may have tiny broken blood vessels, called “subconjunctival hemorrhage”, which is also a result of pressure and trauma during delivery. Your baby’s nose may appear slightly pushed to one side or the other and flattened. All of these things will correct themselves within a couple of days or weeks.

Some babies may appear to be kissed by angels before they’re born. An extremely common birthmark that many babies arrive with is called “angel kisses” or “stork bites”. Your baby’s doctor would probably refer to them as “macular stains”. These birthmarks are small, flat, pink, light red or salmon-colored patches that can appear anywhere on your baby’s body, but are most often found on the back of the neck, on the eyelids or on the forehead. When they’re found on the forehead, eyelids, bridge of the nose or upper lip, they are often called angel kisses for obvious reasons. Most of these patches fade and disappear by the time your baby’s second or third birthday rolls around. Marks on other parts of the body may stick around well into adulthood. Usually, angel kisses appear darker and become more pronounced when your baby is crying.

Your Body

Congratulations, mom-to-be! Can you believe you’ve made it to your due date! It’s tough sometimes, but try to be patient, not all babies arrive by their due dates. It’s not uncommon to go over a few days or even a week, especially first pregnancies. Remember, due dates can be off a little as well and they are only an estimate. At your next prenatal check-up, your doctor or midwife may mention the topic of induction. Some women are more than relieved to hear this, while others would rather wait a little longer for their body to have more time to begin labor on its own, without the assistance of medical intervention. If your doctor or midwife is considering inducing your labor soon because he or she has concerns about your pregnancy continuing much longer, read up on and familiarize yourself with the different methods of each. Don’t hesitate to call your doctor or midwife with any questions or concerns you have.

One thing that might be offered to you at your next prenatal visit is to have your membranes “stripped”. Sometimes this is called “sweeping of the membranes”. This is not exactly considered an induction technique, as it only sometimes is helpful in stimulating labor. It is thought that most of the time, women will go into labor within a couple of days following this procedure, but more often than not, it doesn’t seem to have much affect other than bringing on contractions and cramping that eventually ease up and disappear. Other women are sure that this “stripping” of the membranes sent them directly into labor. If you have this done, it will be similar to a pelvic exam. When your doctor or midwife separates the sac from the bottom of your uterus using a gloved finger while “sweeping“ it in a circular motion, it may be more uncomfortable, sometimes quite painful for a minute or so. You may also notice some spotting right afterwards.

As anxious as you are to hold your precious little baby right now, be cautious of the “do-it-yourself” labor induction methods you hear about from friends, relatives, co-workers and the T.V. Some of these so-called methods aren’t affective and some are even dangerous. Before attempting anything (besides maybe a little lovemaking, walking and relaxation techniques), you should discuss them with your doctor or midwife to ensure your baby’s safety. Sometimes nipple stimulation can bring on very strong contractions similar to Pitocin and shouldn’t be done without the supervision of your doctor or midwife. Castor oil is controversial when it comes to possible labor induction. For one thing, it will lead to severe diarrhea and maybe even vomiting. Some studies link castor oil to the passage of meconium before or during delivery. Not a good idea! Certain herbs are thought to help stimulate labor, but never take any herbs without seeking the advice of your doctor or midwife, as they may not be safe. Even though you’re most likely more than a little tired of being pregnant, keep in mind that no pregnancy has lasted forever. Your baby has to come out eventually! It’s probably just a matter of a few days now. Hang in there. You’re in the midst of the greatest miracle ever!

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