All About Baby

Your baby is most likely positioned with his head facing down and his bottom toward your ribs. If this is your first baby, your baby may “drop” a few days to a couple of weeks before delivery. “Dropping” simply means your baby moves further down into your pelvis, readying for birth. Some babies prefer being head up. This position called breech, carries risks to your baby’s health during delivery. While you may still be able to deliver vaginally, healthcare providers often recommend you have a Cesarean section.

All About You

Many women lose their mucus plug a week or two before delivery (though for others it doesn’t happen until right before delivery). If the mucus is pink or streaked with blood, it is known as the “bloody show” and usually means labor will begin within the next day.

One week to go — although doctors already consider you full-term, so you could have your baby anytime. With your uterus stretched tight to hold your full-sized baby, he has little room to move around. With the lack of space, you may notice your baby isn’t kicking as much. Your little one isn’t the only one who’s scrunched — your internal organs have less room too. Breathing will become more labored as your lungs have less space, and your stomach has less room too, so you should expect to eat several smaller meals throughout the day.

Your First Meeting with Baby

You’ve probably been thinking — even dreaming — about meeting your baby. If you’re picturing the pudgy, perfect-faced babies that adorn books and popular magazines, you may be surprised at your newborn’s appearance. Childbirth isn’t just a workout for you; it’s strenuous for your baby too. His appearance will most likely be a reflection of his time in the cramped birth canal.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Your baby’s face: After a tight squeeze through the cervix, your baby’s face may be swollen. You may even notice bruising on her face and other parts of her body.
  • Your baby’s head: Your baby’s malleable skull bones shift position to make it possible for him to pass through the birth canal. This may result in a temporarily disfigured head, such as a “cone-head,” but the skull bones will go back into place, giving your baby a more normal head shape in a week or two.
  • Your baby’s skin: Inside your uterus, your baby lived in the amniotic sac surrounded by fluid. To protect your unborn baby’s delicate skin within her watery home, her body was covered with a coating, called vernix. This cheesy-looking coating goes away as your baby’s due date draws closer, though you may notice bits of it in your baby’s skin folds. If your baby is born premature, she’ll have more of this coating left on her body.
  • Your baby’s hair: Earlier in your unborn baby’s development, soft tiny hairs covered her body and acted as an anchor for her skin to form. As your baby draws nearer her delivery day, these hairs downy begin to disappear, though you may find a few on your newborn. Your baby will also have hair on her head. The amount of hair babies have varies, but the hair your baby has at birth will look very different from her hair once she gets just a few weeks older. Don’t count on your baby having dark hair or light hair just because that was her hair color at birth.
  • Your baby’s eyes: While your baby’s eye color may be one color at birth, that doesn’t mean they’ll stay that way. Baby’s true eye color won’t appear for at least two months, sometimes up to six months of age, according to the University of Michigan Health System. If you’re trying to figure out your baby’s true eye color, it may not be as easy as looking at your own and your partner’s. Research from the Oregon State University shows that while brown is still a dominant eye color, there are several genetic factors that go into creating your baby’s unique eye color.

No matter what your baby looks like right after birth, you’ll know he’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. And just like it will take you a few days to recover from delivery, it will take your baby a few days to recover, too!

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Q & A

Got questions about Week 39? Other women have asked…

Q: Should I wash new baby clothes before use?

Many clothing manufacturers may treat clothes with chemicals before shipping to prevent wrinkling or mildew. As a rule of thumb, washing new clothes before you wear them is probably a good idea. It will not only remove any possible chemicals, but also remove dye that could come off on your skin. Babies especially have very sensitive skin so laundering the clothes before they wear them is highly recommended. Read more about preparing for baby.

Q: Is a C-section my only option after back surgery?

The answer to this good question will need to be figured out by your OB, in consultation with your surgeon or someone else familiar with your procedure. Talk to your OB early in pregnancy, so that appropriate consultations can be obtained and you can understand the specific issues for your body. Read more about C-sections.

Your Partner

The Hospital: What to Expect

Many hospitals, especially newer maternity wards, are much more family-friendly than in years past. More and more hospitals are making accommodations for new dads, such as bigger recovery room beds for both the new mom and dad, or even more comfortable cots so new dads can sleep in the room with his new family.

And more nurses and doctors are getting used to dealing with the expecting dads, but there are still some healthcare professionals who will do and say things that are focused on the mother, not on both of you. Don’t take their actions personally; make it clear you will be participating in your child’s birth (and most likely they’ll adjust to your presence). You are an essential part of the delivery process — not only for your partner but for your baby, too.

Going to the maternity ward to deliver a baby is a lot better than going to the emergency room, fortunately. You’ll still have paperwork to fill out, of course, but the chairs and environment are often much more comfortable.

Once your partner is admitted, here’s a rundown of what to expect:

  • You’ll get a room where she can lie down (assuming she isn’t ready to give birth right at that moment!). If you’re going in for a scheduled C-section, your partner will be prepped for surgery (and you will be able to wait her with her, too).
  • Your partner may have a fetal monitor strapped around her belly at this point and soon your room may fill with the sound of your little baby’s heartbeat. If you’re going in for a planned C-section, your partner will also have an IV fitted.
  • Your healthcare provider will check to see how dilated your partner is and will keep checking up on her until she’s fully ready.
  • Your partner may begin to experience some intense contractions. This is where you can help her with her breathing to manage the pain and be there to support her emotionally with lots of love and attention. (If you’re having a planned C-section, you’ll need to step away for a few minutes while your partner is moved to the surgical room. You’ll be asked to put on scrubs and a sterile mask while your partner receives her epidural and gets situated. Then a nurse will bring you to her and you’ll be able to sit with her during your baby’s birth.)
  • Once your partner is far enough along, she will be moved to the delivery room where she will give birth to your beautiful baby! (If you’re having a C-section, you’ll stay with your partner throughout the delivery. Then when your baby is born, you’ll be able to watch her go through her Apgar tests, cut the cord, and stay with her while your partner’s incision is closed. All three of you will be united in a recovery room while your partner’s anesthesia wears off (generally, your partner won’t be allowed to hold your baby until she can wiggle her toes).
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