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Week #38 of Pregnancy

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Your Pregnancy: Week 38

By Erin Horner, edHelperBaby

Your Baby
           Wow!  This week your baby is considered "full term."  That means that if he or she is born today or this week he will be considered a full-grown baby.  Any babies born before 38 weeks are considered to be premature.  Your little one is, on average, 19 1/2 inches long and weighs 6 pounds and 6 ounces.

       He or she has accumulated lots of meconium in her intestines while in the womb.  This is a result of all that she has been swallowing while swimming within your amniotic fluid.  The meconium will make up your child's first bowel movement and is often black, tar-like and very difficult to clean up!  Some babies pass this meconium while still in utero.  Your doctor will be able to tell whether or not the meconium has passed by examining your amniotic fluid once your water breaks.  If the baby has already passed this substance, your physician and nursing staff will take extra precautions after delivery to ensure that your little one has not breathed any of it in.


Your Body
           As you continue to mark off your calendar and the reality of your baby's upcoming due date sinks in, you may begin to feel the need to make sure that everything is in order before your little one arrives.  Often referred to as "nesting" this instinct leads pregnant women to try and attempt huge tasks in the last weeks of pregnancy in an attempt to make sure that their homes are perfect before their labor begins.  If you are feeling the need to nest, try and keep your plans simple.  Launder your baby's clothes and be sure that the nursery is in order.  Don't try and reorganize the attic or re-landscape the yard.  While you may feel the "need" to get some of these things done, no baby has ever come home from the hospital and adamantly declared that it wanted to go back in to the womb because their mother's baseboards were too dusty.  By saving some of your energy now and savoring your last few weeks of quiet rest, you will be more prepared to take care of the really important stuff once your baby arrives: him!


  You're Wondering. . .
           I am so nervous that my water is going to break in public!  How will I know if it breaks and what will I do?

       This is a very common fear for many women as their pregnancies progress.  The reality, however, is that only 8-10% of all women experience the rupturing of their membranes, or water breaking, prior to the onset of their labor.  I know of many women who take elaborate precautions as they progress in their pregnancies to make sure that if their water breaks in public that they are covered.  Some carry jugs of water so that they can pretend that they spilled.  Others pack a change of clothes in their purse and carry it with them at all times.  The truth of the matter is that if your water breaks in public, anyone who glances your way and sees your round belly will know what has happened.  Their knowing grin will be one that lets you know that they are excited for you and the upcoming arrival of your little one, not a malicious grin to make fun of you.  So, if your water breaks in public, or anywhere else for that matter, what should you do?
  1. Celebrate!  Your baby is on its way!
  2. Call your doctor.  Your physician will want to be aware that your membranes have ruptured and will probably advise you to head to your chosen hospital or birthing center once your active labor pains begin.  If your labor does not begin within 24 hours of your water breaking, your doctor may want to induce your labor to help minimize the risk of infection to your little one.

       The following instances require some special attention.  If your water breaks. . .
  • And you feel immediate pressure and a sudden need to push, or if you can see or feel your baby's head call 911.
  • And the fluid is green or has an unusual odor call your doctor immediately.
  • And you are less than 36 weeks pregnant go to the hospital immediately.
  • And you know that your baby is still in a transverse, or sideways, position go to the hospital immediately and call your doctor.

       If you think that your membranes may have ruptured, but you are not completely sure, call your physician.  He or she can perform a test to determine whether or not the wetness that you are experiencing is amniotic fluid.


  Your "To-Do" List
           This is a great time to begin lining up helpers for the weeks after your baby arrives.  Even if you are normally a very private or independent person, allow yourself the privilege of taking advantage of the assistance offered by well meaning friends and family.  While you will be ecstatic after the arrival of your little one, you will also be exhausted.   Here are a few tasks that you may want to plan on having someone help with:
  • Meals.  After your baby is born meal prep in those first few weeks can be a bit tedious.  If friends or neighbors offer to bring by some dinner, let them!  The time you would have spent cooking in the kitchen can instead be spent cuddling with your cutie.
  • Pets.  If you have a dog or other animal that requires daily care or exercise, consider asking a neighborhood child to come over and walk or simply play with him.  Your pets may have a harder time adjusting to the arrival of your baby than you have anticipated and a little extra TLC from a neighborhood buddy might do the whole family well.
  • Play dates for older children.  Go ahead and line up a few play dates for each of your older children.  They will enjoy an opportunity to play with a good friend, and you will be able to enjoy a few quiet moments at home with your newborn.


Your Homework: Preparing For Parenthood
           While you are out and about this week, swing by your local park and recreation center and pick up a copy of their current newsletter.  Familiarize yourself with all of the different programs that they offer, usually on a quarterly basis for children and their families.  Many offer sports programs, classes, and lessons.  You may even find that they offer "Mommy and Me" type classes that teach skills such as baby sign language or baby massage.  As you peek at their newsletter, think about some of the different activities that you and your little one can enjoy both now and in the future and if you find one that suits you, go ahead and sign up!


  My Experience
           Our family has found our local park and recreation center to be a great resource.  Not only do they offer pre-school classes, but also many great programs that we can all enjoy together.  We have found that the cost for these programs is usually minimal, but the quality of the programming can't be beat.  The classes have given our children an opportunity to try new sports, swimming lessons, cooking classes, and art projects without a long term commitment or steep monthly payment.  I hope you find that your local recreation center is full of family fun too!


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