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34 WEEKS, 5 DAYS

37 days to go...

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Your baby today

This is an MRI image showing a cross section of the entire pregnancy. The mother's spine is on the left of the image, and the baby is lying head down within the pelvis. An MRI is rarely needed during pregnancy, but if recommended, it is entirely safe.

You'll probably find yourself analyzing every ache and pain in these final weeks of your pregnancy.

By this stage of pregnancy every time you get a twinge you may worry that it's the onset of labor. This is a normal concern, but try to remember that, even though you're heavily pregnant, most aches and pains are still likely to be due to constipation, or stretching ligaments, rather than labor.

You may begin to have Braxton Hicks' contractions; these practice contractions occur as the uterus tightens as a warm up for labor. They also help direct more blood to the placenta in the final weeks of pregnancy. Some women are unaware of them, while for others they can be quite uncomfortable. Relaxing the uterine muscles by changing your position, walking around, or taking a warm bath can help.

If you're unsure whether the pains you're having are Braxton Hicks', always consult your doctor.

Time To Think About

Breast-feeding

If you've decided to breast-feed, it's the best choice for you and your baby . However, it doesn't always come naturally so make it easier by being prepared:

  • Read all about it. If you're expecting some of the discomforts, they won't come as such a shock and you may be able to take measures to prevent them. It can help, for example, to know how to latch on your baby correctly .
  • Address any concerns before your baby is born: ask your doctor, or friends who've breast-fed.
  • See how it's done by visiting a breast-feeding group (ask your doctor to recommend one). You may have been concerned about breast-feeding in public, so it can help to see how discreetly it can be done. You could also ask a friend to let you watch her position and breast-feed her baby.
  • Look for a lactation consultant-available from your doctor, or maybe a friend can recommend one, or contact the La Leche League for a list of counselors.

Ask A... Mom

What will I need if I'm planning to breast-feed?

I found all the following items really useful when I was breast-feeding my baby:

  • Nursing bras that can be unclipped at the front or have zip-open cups. Get properly fitted (bearing in mind that your breasts will be bigger once your milk comes in). You'll need at least two nursing bras and, thankfully, it's possible to get some attractive styles.
  • Nipple cream: this is soothing if you have cracked nipples.
  • Breast pads (disposable or washable). Slip them inside your bra to absorb any leaks between feedings. Alternatively, breast shells slot inside your bra to catch any excess milk.
  • Breast-feeding pillow: a V-shaped pillow isn't essential, but it will help you and your baby to get comfortable.
  • Burp cloths to catch dribbles.
  • Breast pump and bottles or bags for storing expressed milk.

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