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Week #39 of Pregnancy

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Your Pregnancy: Week 39

By Erin Horner, edHelperBaby

Your Baby
           Did you know that by this week in your baby's life, the umbilical cord that has served as his lifeline, is now 22 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick?  The vernix that once covered his body to protect his skin has disappeared, as has the fine hair known as lanugo.  All of his organs are fully developed and ready for life outside of the womb, including his lungs which were the last to develop completely.

       As you anticipate gazing into your baby's eyes, have you wondered what color they will be?   If your little one is born with brown eyes they will most likely stay brown.  If he or she is born with gray or dark blue eyes they may stay this color or turn green, hazel, or brown.  The iris area of your baby's eyes may gain more pigment after birth and therefore darken their color, but they won't lighten up after delivery.  Regardless of the color, you can rest assured that your little one's eyes will be the most beautiful you have ever seen!


Your Body
           During the first few weeks of your pregnancy, your body was very busy making Human Chorioc Gonadotrophrin, which is more commonly known as HCG.  HCG is responsible for maintaining the secretion of progesterone and estrogen.  In fact, it was the elevated levels of HCG that first alerted you to the little one that was growing deep within you as the HCG in your urine turned that little stick pink (or blue) a few days after your late period.  Now, however, your body is busy producing Corticotrophin-Releasing Hormone or CRH.  While your body has made this hormone from the beginning of your pregnancy, it is now kicked into overdrive and is producing more and more of it everyday.  As the levels of this hormone increase, the CRH will eventually trigger the release of Oxytocin and Prostagiandin.  Big Deal?  You bet it is!  These two substances will soon begin to drive your muscular contractions, soften your cervix and let baby through!  So bring on the CRH and bring home your baby!


  You're Wondering. . .
           What is an Apgar test and why will my doctor "score" my baby?

       The Apgar test is a method used by doctors and nurses to help evaluate your baby's health and condition after delivery.  One minute after being born the medical staff scores your baby from 0-2 in five different areas:
  • Appearance (color)
  • Pulse (heartbeat)
  • Grimace (reflex ability)
  • Activity (muscle tone)
  • Respiration (breathing)

       Babies scoring between 4 and 6 generally need some type of resuscitation, such as suctioning out the airways or administering oxygen.  If a baby scores under 4, more drastic medical intervention is usually needed.  The test is then repeated 5 minutes after delivery.  By this point, infants scoring a 7 or higher on the scale are considered healthy while babies with a score lower than 7 may require some careful monitoring and a bit more assistance.  Your child's Apgar score is not a permanent indicator of their future health or potential.  Many children who begin life with lower scores turn out to be normal and very healthy.


  Your "To-Do" List
           Start Spreading the News!

       This is a great week to share the good news of your little one's arrival....even if he or she has not yet been born!  Take a moment this week and draft a blank mass email to all of the friends and family members that you will want to update about the birth of your baby.  Save this blank note in the "draft" section of your email.  Once your little one makes her grand entrance, simply pull up the draft, fill in the details and push send.  In a matter of minutes the most special people in your life, near and far, will be updated on the arrival of the newest member of your family.


Your Homework: Preparing For Parenthood
           Part of being a great parent is being a great partner.  Take a moment this week and write a letter, long or short, to your partner thanking him for joining you on this new adventure of parenthood.  Tell him why you think that he will be a great parent and be specific.  Also include aspects of his personality that you hope your child inherits.  You have had 39 weeks to prepare yourself for the arrival of your baby and have, hopefully, felt yourself begin to grow into motherhood with each flutter and fetal movement you have felt.  Many future fathers, on the other hand, don't really grasp how much their lives are about to change until they are driving their loved one to the hospital while she is busy breathing through the middle of a contraction.  As the new dads begin to ponder what life will soon look like, some aren't sure how to express their new found questions, concerns or emotions.  A simple letter like this may be all that your partner needs in order to help calm his fears and help him embrace fatherhood.  Slip the note into his lunch bag or place it on the dashboard or the front seat of his car.  Then watch and wait.  Who knows, after reading your kind words, your partner might just write you a letter in return.   Not only will this homework activity encourage your partner, it will also be early practice for the elementary years ahead when you can write a little love note on your child's napkin before placing it in his lunch box.


  My Experience
           There have been times throughout our marriage and our journey as parents where my husband and I have wanted to say things to each other but don't know where to start or how exactly to say what is on our mind.  It is during these moments that I will take two minutes and write a quick note thanking my husband for all that he does for our family and for the person that he is.  I might simply say, "Thanks for working so hard to provide us with the things that our family needs.  I notice how hard you are working and it means so much to us.  Thank you also for being the great man that you are.  I love that our son is growing up with an amazing dad like you to look up to."  I'll then slip the note into his briefcase or lunch bag and smile knowing that at some point during the day he will find it, feel encouraged and come home knowing that he is valued and loved.  I hope that your letter will leave you and your partner feeling united, encouraged, and excited about the great adventure ahead.


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