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26 WEEKS EXACTLY

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Your baby today

The space between the two frontal bones of the forehead (the dark line) has now nearly closed. The bones on the left and right sides come to lie very close to each other with a small gap to allow for further growth of the head and brain.

Dreaming is a natural and healthy part of your sleep cycle, but at this stage of pregnancy unsettling dreams can be common.

Vivid dreams are common among women in the third trimester. You may, in fact, not be dreaming more than usual, but difficulty in finding a comfortable sleeping position and waking often to go to the bathroom may mean that you remember your dreams more than usual (you normally would not wake during the dreaming phase of your sleep cycle, so often do not recall your dreams in the morning).

It is common to dream about babies and small children in distress or danger. It is not uncommon for women to feel anxious about such dreams, but you should know that they are in no way insights into what is in store for you. Dreaming is a way of filtering any negative emotions so that you do not have to experience them first hand. Rest assured that, although disturbing, these dreams will help you cope with your natural concern for your baby's welfare.

Going on a hospital tour

As part of the build up to your baby's birth, you may be offered a tour of the hospital. Not only will you be able to see first hand where you'll be delivering your baby and what the units are like, but you can also figure out the practical details, such as parking, admission procedures, what you'll need to bring, and what facilities there are, such as cafés and shops for visiting friends and family.

Ultimately, a hospital tour offers you a reassuring chance for you and your partner to prepare yourself mentally for the big day and what will follow your baby's birth.

Use the opportunity as a fact-finding mission. Ask how the hospital uses birth plans (see Making a birth plan), and when and why they might have to be adapted. Ask how many other moms there will be in the unit, and, if you want, how you can arrange a private room. There is usually a fee for this. Find out what support you'll have in the first 24 hours. Most hospitals now expect the mother to keep the baby with her during the night. Ask about visiting hours, and the number of visitors you can have at any one time. You could also ask how many babies are born at the hospital each year, and how many of these are born by cesarean (emergency or otherwise). Request information about how long the shifts are and what nurses and doctors do to provide continuity of care during labor and birth. Ask to see a delivery room and the nursery.

Are there birthing pools or baths available? Do they have TENS machines or any other form of pain relief you may be considering? What support is there for breast-feeding, and are there breast pumps available?

Finally, although you probably won't need to use it, you may want to see the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). If your baby needs this type of care, it can help to have seen the equipment and gained a basic understanding of what it's used for.

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