All About Baby

Your baby is now full-grown and ready to meet you. As he nears delivery, his body systems are all mature and prepared to survive outside the womb. His fat cells continue to form and will provide him with the insulation he needs once he leaves his cozy home. The fat will also give him irresistibly chubby cheeks!

All About You

As your body prepares for delivery, you may notice more frequent rounds of Braxton Hicks contractions during which your abdomen tightens and relaxes. You’ll also experience times of more intense contractions that may or may not become regular. During your office visit, your healthcare provider will tell you if your cervix is thinning and opening as it prepares for childbirth.

Bringing Home Baby

You’re due to deliver your baby this week … but keep in mind that chances are this won’t be the week you give birth. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), “only five percent of babies are born on their due dates.” More likely, your baby will be born somewhere between 38 and 42 weeks, instead of on her exact due date. Hang in there! Baby will be here soon enough.

Depending on whether you have a vaginal birth or a Cesarean section, you’ll spend at least a night or two at the hospital before returning home with your newborn. There are a few things you should do to prepare for your baby’s homecoming — and remember, as you are recovering from the birth, you deserve a little babying, too.

For Baby:

Before you can bring your baby home from the hospital, there are a few things you should do.

Bring a car seat. You won’t be allowed to take your baby home from the hospital in a car without a properly installed car seat. There are a variety of styles, models, and price ranges to choose from when it comes to buying car seats. Pick a seat you’re comfortable with — your baby will spend a lot of time there.

Add your baby’s name to your health insurance. Your provider will likely give you several days to add your baby’s name to health insurance, but before you get too exhausted from nightly feedings and diaper changes, contact your insurance company to include your baby in your policy.

Schedule your baby’s first in-office, pediatrician visit. Your baby will need to start seeing her pediatrician soon after she’s born. In fact, the pediatrician may have visited with you and your baby in the hospital. Depending on your infant’s pediatrician, he or she will want to schedule an appointment one or two weeks after birth.

Purchase newborn basics. Stock your home with baby essentials such as diapers, onesies, blankets, wipes and burps cloths. Pack a small baby bag to bring with you to the hospital filled with these items. Pediatrician’s views on how best to clean your around your baby’s umbilical cord vary (some recommend cotton-tipped applicators and rubbing alcohol, and some recommend mild soap and water).

Consult with a lactation specialist. If you plan to breastfeed, visit with a lactation consultant (often there’s one on staff at the hospital) before you go home. She can help you find successful positions for feeding your baby and assist you with any breastfeeding issues that might pop up.

For Mother:

Understand your healthcare provider’s instructions. Depending on your delivery, your provider will have specific instructions for you on caring for your recovering body. Following a vaginal birth, you’ll most likely be given medications and pads to keep your vaginal area clean and free from infection. If you had a C-section you will have a longer hospital stay than with a vaginal birth. The incision along your abdomen will be very sore. Your doctor may give you different medications to help soothe the pain. Also, you may have to nurse your baby lying down on your side instead of sitting up. Your provider will also review what activities you may safely do now and when you may resume more strenuous activities.

“The advice I give my patients recovering from childbirth is, ‘If something hurts, stop doing it,'” says Dr. Joanne Motino Bailey PhD, and a certified nurse midwife. “Listen to your body.”

Enlist friends’ help. Take time to recover. Allow friends to help you with meals, cleaning, and anything else you need. You should also sleep as much as possible for a faster recovery. “The rule of thumb is that whenever your baby sleeps, you should sleep too,” says Dr. Bailey.

Relax! Let the housework slide and keep meals simple for the first few weeks after you bring your baby home. Your job is to recover from 40 long weeks of aches, pains, and miracles that have made you a proud mommy!

Q & A

Got questions about Week 40? Other women have wondered…

Q: What are some natural ways to induce labor?

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should always check with your healthcare provider before trying to jump-start labor. Sometimes your due date can be off by a few weeks, and you don’t want labor beginning before the baby is mature. Additionally, for any at-home techniques to work your body really needs to be ready. Read more about natural ways to induce labor.

Q: Does the ‘mask’ of pregnancy ever go away?

Talk to a dermatologist about your options. Melasma often fades over time. Skin bleaches and/or chemical peels may help treat melasma, and of course you can use makeup for coverage in the meantime. Read more about safe beauty products during pregnancy and nursing.

Your Partner

Bringing Baby Home

Welcome home! This is when fatherhood becomes real, like nothing else you have read or seen before. The moment you bring your adorable little baby into your home is often the very same moment that you realize just how different everything is about to become in your life.

It can be amazing — and it can also be a little terrifying.

You and your wife are now completely responsible for this little being who is utterly dependent upon you for every single thing. Your baby is going to sleep and cry and sleep and scream and sleep and poop and sleep some more. Those first few weeks may be a huge blur until you adjust to your baby’s schedule. “What time is it?” you’ll ask at some point. “Three,” your partner will respond, and you’ll wonder, “Is it morning or afternoon?” and then you’ll realize it doesn’t matter.

The most important thing to remember from now on is that parenting is a skill, something you learn to do, not something you are born knowing. You are going to make mistakes, but you will learn from them and you’ll look back on those fumbling times with fondness.

And your baby will never know. All your child will experience is the unconditional love you and your partner feel, and that is what matters most.