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15 WEEKS, 5 DAYS

170 days to go...

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Your baby today

Here the baby is seen within the amniotic sac. For the first time, her head is smaller than her body, marking another developmental milestone. Having a large, heavy head is not a problem in the nearly weightless environment of the uterus.

Your doctor may speak to you about writing a birth plan so she can get an idea of the type of labor and birth you want.

The purpose of a birth plan is to communicate your wishes for labor and birth to those who are caring for you. Writing a plan will help you to address different aspects of the labor, such as methods of pain relief and who you'd like to attend the birth. It also gives you a chance to ask questions about procedures such as induction and other types of medical intervention. Filling in a plan is also a useful way for your birth partner to be made aware of your wishes so that he or she can communicate these to the doctor while you're in labor.

Bear in mind that circumstances may dictate that not all of your preferences are met, but there's more chance of you getting the labor and birth you want if you've thought it through and written down your views. Being as informed as possible about labor and your choices (see Planning for your Birth) will help you to prepare in advance.

Time To Think About

Your birth plan

Scented candles, womb music, and beanbags... or serious pain relief from the first contraction? Writing a birth plan is an opportunity for you to think about how you'd like your labor and delivery to go. Discuss your birth plan with your doctor and birth partner as early as this week, so you're all clear about your objectives (see Planning for your Birth).

  • Write everything down: your birth partner(s), pain-relief preferences, whether you'd like an active labor, and the environment you'd prefer to give birth in. You might know you want to give birth in the hospital or at home, or in a birth center, which offers a home-style setting with the backup of medical technology.
  • Be specific: for example, you might want to use a birthing pool to labor in or want to give birth in an upright position. You might want minimal medical intervention.
  • Be flexible: labor doesn't always go according to plan and your baby's safe delivery is the most important thing.

Ask A... Doctor

I have dry eyes and am finding it hard to wear my contact lenses. What can I do?

During pregnancy, hormonal changes may cause your eyes to feel dry, and you may experience burning, itching, and a feeling that there is a foreign object under your eyelid. This is common in pregnancy. Dry eyes can also occur after menopause, when there are similar hormonal fluctuations.

The condition appears to be caused by a change in the composition and quantity of tears, leaving the eye dry and inadequately lubricated. The discomfort can be remedied with "artificial tears" , available from an optician or pharmacist, and it usually disappears once the baby is born. In the meantime, limit the time you wear your lenses and wear your glasses more often, especially if you are looking at a computer screen for long periods of time.

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Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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