You are inching your way closer to your estimated due date. This week is your thirty-sixth week of pregnancy. As the days go by you may be starting to wonder if you are ever going to actually have your baby. You may be analyzing every cramp, ache or feeling of wetness. In this week’s newsletter we are going to be discussing just what’s on your mind, signs of labor. We will tell you the things to look for to let you know that you may have started labor. You may know some of the signs and symptoms of labor but may be wondering how to tell the difference between real labor and false labor. We are going to be discussing false labor in this week’s newsletter as well.
At week thirty-six the baby is completely developed and has come full term. By now the baby will continue to move around and start their descent into the pelvic area. The baby is getting ready for delivery but if the baby’ feet are down rather than the head, the doctor may try turning the baby and if that doesn’t work a Cesarean Section may be performed.
The baby from head to toe is about 20 inches or so. The may weigh about 6 pounds too, this is an estimate and the doctor has been monitoring the weight and length since the start so if there was a problem you would know about it. Remember that these weighs and lengths are guidelines and do not reflect every pregnancy.
The baby’s brain is still developing but at a fast rate. The baby is continuing to practice blinking and the baby is practicing how to suck. The baby is still swallowing amniotic fluid and gets rid of it as urine.
How Your Life’s Changing
Now that your baby is taking up so much room, you may have trouble eating a normal-size meal. Smaller, more frequent meals are often easier to handle at this point. On the other hand, you may have less heartburn and have an easier time breathing when your baby starts to “drop” down into your pelvis. This process called lightening often happens a few weeks before labor if this is your first baby. (If you’ve given birth before, it probably won’t happen before labor starts.) If your baby drops, you may also feel increased pressure in your lower abdomen, which may make walking increasingly uncomfortable, and you’ll probably find that you have to pee even more frequently. If your baby is very low, you may feel lots of vaginal pressure and discomfort as well. Some women say it feels as though they’re carrying a bowling ball between their legs!
You might also notice that your Braxton Hicks contractions are more frequent now. Be sure to review the signs of labor with your practitioner and find out when she wants to hear from you. As a general rule, if you’re full-term, your pregnancy is uncomplicated, and your water hasn’t broken, she’ll probably have you wait to come in until you’ve been having contractions that last for about a minute each, coming every five minutes for an hour. Of course, you’ll want to call right away if you notice a decrease in your baby’s activity or think you’re leaking amniotic fluid, or if you have any vaginal bleeding, fever, a severe or persistent headache, constant abdominal pain, or vision changes.
Even if you’re enjoying an uncomplicated pregnancy, it’s best to avoid flying (or any travel far from home) during your final month because you can go into labor at any time. In fact, some airlines won’t let women on board who are due to deliver within 30 days of the flight.
Signs of Labor
Many women begin to “nest” right before they go into labor. Nesting is a word used to describe preparing your baby’s nest. You may feel the need to get your house super clean or perhaps you may start cooking lots of freezer meals.
Dropping or lightening
As your baby descends into your pelvis you may notice that your baby’s position has dropped. Sometimes this is obvious and other times you won’t notice this at all.
Cramping or Pelvic Pressure
You may notice menstrual like cramping or achiness or you may sense more pressure in your pelvic area. Some women describe this feeling as if their baby feels like she might “fall out.
Cervical Dilation or Effacement
As your body prepares to give birth your cervix will begin to thin out and dilate. Your doctor may begin doing cervical checks at the end of your pregnancy. Cervical effacement and dilation are a good indicator that labor might start soon.
Mucous Plug or Bloody Show
The mucous plug seals the entrance to your cervix. You may lose your mucous plug a little at a time or all at once. Some women lose their mucous plug weeks before labor starts. If you notice that you have lost your mucous plug or if you see mucous tinged with blood this may be a sign that labor may start soon. Blood tinged mucous is called a bloody show. Many women have a bloody show shortly before labor begins.
At the start of labor you may have contractions that are ten to fifteen minutes apart. As your labor progresses your contractions will become more regular and closer together. You may be advised to call your doctor once your contractions are five minutes apart; however, you will want to consult your doctor for specific instructions on when to head to the hospital.
If your water breaks you may feel a “pop” followed by a gush of water or you may just feel a small trickle. Some women even feel like they have urinated. If you think your water has broken call your doctor right away.
What to Expect
You can expect to have at least 3 or 4 more weeks of pregnancy left. You are going to continue to go to the doctor every week and have the normal and routine check ups. These are necessary to help determine the health of the baby in these last few weeks. If you are feeling anything that you have not felt before, it is always important to make sure that you discuss how you are feeling with the doctor. What you may think is important may be important to the doctor.
Try to get as much rest as you can in these next few weeks. Try to stay close to home and always keep your phone close and your cell phone charged. You may still be having some aches and pains but you can alleviate these aches and pains by doing some light exercises but only if you are up to it.
You should continue with the balanced diet right up until the baby is born. Just because the baby is 3 or 4 weeks away doesn’t mean that you should stop eating properly. You should have a plan for up to the baby’s birth as well as a plan for the homecoming of the baby. You should know if you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. Overall, you should be getting plenty of rest and continue to eat healthy.
You are down to the final weeks; it is time to prepare a hospital bag. Make sure that everything is in place when the baby comes home. If you are planning a homecoming party for the baby, keep it small. Don’t over do it even though you may feel great. It is still important that you rest.