Congratulations! Your baby is now officially deemed full term and could arrive any day now -exciting! Your baby weighs over 2.9kg or 6.3lb and is about 48.6cm or 19.1in long from head (crown) to heel. That’s approximately the length of 2 cucumbers and the weight of 14 baked potatoes.
Your baby is busy preparing for life in the big, wide world and maturing rapidly. His digestive system is continuing to grow and develop, and he’s even exercising his facial muscles by practising little frowns, pouts and lovel smiles. Your baby may even have started sucking his thumb.
Your baby’s toenails should now reach the end of their toes, but they’re still not as long as their fingernails. After your baby’s born, their fingernails will continue to grow faster than their toenails, and you may need to trim them weekly. A good tip is to cut their nails while they’re sleeping or to use a soft nail file especially for babies.
Your baby’s digestive system is still developing and will continue to mature for several years after they’re born. Their small intestine will grow by over a meter in their first year alone!
His movements might feel a little different as he runs out of room in your womb, but he should still be wriggling and kicking as often as before. Your baby will still have a regular pattern of movements, which will continue until they’re born. If he doesn’t seem to be moving as much as usual, contact your midwife straight away, to be on the safe side.
This week, you may be feeling more Braxton Hicks contractions, as your body gets ready to give birth. But if your contractions come at regular intervals, they don’t go away when you change position, and they get gradually stronger and more frequent with time, it could be the real thing!
Here are 5 signs that may show that your baby is on the way:
1. The ‘show’: you may see a sticky blob of mucus in your pants, which might be yellow or bloody. This plug used to seal up your cervix and the fact that it’s come undone shows that something’s happening down there. It’s called a ‘show’ and can be one of the first signs of labour. However, you could still have days, or even weeks to wait…
2. Your waters break (rupturing of the membranes): don’t expect a massive gush like you see in films – it could just be a little ‘pop’ and a trickle. The liquid should be clear. If it drips, then use a pad, not a tampon. Contact your midwife or doctor immediately if it’s smelly or coloured.
3. Backache: this is caused by your baby’s head bashing away at your spine. When their head meets your sacrum (tailbone) it’s agony!
4. The urge to go to the toilet: this is caused by your baby’s head pressing on your bladder or bowels. You may find that you wet or poo yourself. It’s very common, so don’t be embarrassed!
5. Contractions or tightening around your bump: it hurts when your bump goes hard, and then the pain goes away when the muscles relax. It feels like period pains to start with or a heavy dragging feeling in your pelvis and legs. Then your contractions get longer, stronger and more frequent. It’s time to call your midwife or hospital when your contractions last for at least 60 seconds and come every 5 minutes. Phone straight away if you’re losing blood, in too much pain, worried that something’s wrong, or if your baby stops moving.
Do you have an urge to clean? Noticed a sudden burst of energy and the need to sort out everything in your house? You’re not alone – lots of mothers report this.
If you find that you are over-cleaning or find yourself needing to do some things over and over again, speak to your midwife about it, as it could be a mental health condition. 1 in 10 women have a mental health condition in pregnancy and it can come upon you even if you have never had one before.
If you’re having your baby at home, your midwife will drop off a home birth pack about now. If you’re giving birth in a hospital or in a birth centre now is a good time to ensure you have packed everything you need.
You’ll probably be in your maternity clothes for a little while after the birth, as you’ll still have a bit of a bump after having your baby. Big, comfortable knickers are a must! You’ll need to use maternity pads for a good couple of weeks after having your baby too.
A few things to do in the next couple of weeks:
In relation to how you speak, the advice is to go to sleep on your side because research has shown that going to sleep on your back is linked to an increased risk of stillbirth. This advice includes daytime napping and night sleeping.
You and your partner have probably already discussed your birth plan, but it’s a good idea to let your birth partner know what’s most important to you, just in case things change during your labour and birth so they can help support you make decisions.
Now may also be a good time for you and your partner to read a little bit about postnatal depression – either one of you could develop symptoms after the birth, although it’s most likely to affect you. More than 1 in 10 women will develop this condition, usually in the first year. Signs include low mood, lack of energy, sleeping problems and frightening thoughts. It’s important to get help from your doctor or health visitor if either of you develop these symptoms.
Your partner will have a lot going on at the moment and it would be helpful to ensure that you take the time to brush up on the birth plan to you can be your partner’s voice in the room if there are decisions to be made. Take the time to run through options and their views on what they would do in certain situations e.g. the need for c-section or pain relief.