A foot is shown here with the toes spread out. Not all of the movements that you feel will be due to kicks, some movements will be shrugs or punches and some from the bottom or head as it touches the sides of the uterus.
The amount of amniotic fluid that surrounds and protects your baby is now at its maximum and the placenta has almost completed its growth.
Amniotic fluid is essential for your baby's lung development, gut maturation, protein requirements, and temperature control. Adequate fluid also allows your baby to move easily since she is in an almost weightless state. There is about 800 ml of amniotic fluid around your baby. The range, however, is quite wide and "normal" can be anywhere between 300 ml and 2 liters. Sometimes there is too little, a condition known as oligohydramnios, or too much fluid, a condition known as polyhydramnios, surrounding the baby. In this situation you would be closely monitored and premature delivery may be necessary.
It's not surprising that the size of your uterus may not reflect the size of your baby since there can be so much variation in the quantity of fluid.
As the amount of amniotic fluid reduces in late pregnancy, your baby is not as well cushioned and her movements may become more obvious, although you should bear in mind that increasingly, as she grows, she has less space in which to move around.
One of the most common concerns for women in late pregnancy is that their water will break in public.
The reality is that the amniotic fluid is unlikely to gush out. It is much more likely to trickle out because in a head-down position, the baby will press down on the cervix and prevent the liquid from escaping. If it does happen in public, don't worry-you won't be short of people offering help.
Once your partner's labor begins, your attention will need to be focused on helping her both practically and emotionally. So in addition to helping your partner prepare her maternity bag in advance, it's a good idea to prepare a bag of your own.
Understandably, dads are not always well supported in delivery units, and certainly don't get fed. You'll also find that you're at the hospital for several hours.
Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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