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Third Trimester 1stTrimester     2ndTrimester

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36 WEEKS, 5 DAYS

23 days to go...

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Your baby today

3D views at this stage of the pregnancy will be extremely clear. Every part of the face is fully developed and your baby will be very expressive. Your baby is only a few days away now from being full term.

Don't be concerned about embarrassing yourself in labor-your caregivers will have seen it all before.

Many women worry about losing control during labor-for example that they will urinate or defecate when they are pushing. You might well pass a bit of stool when you're pushing but you probably won't notice; your doctor will put on a pair of gloves and use gauze to remove it.

The reality is that when you're in the throes of labor, you really won't care-you'll just want that baby out!

Ask A... Panel

What if I can't deal with the pain of labor?

Doctor: If you're concerned, take time to investigate the pain-relief options in advance of labor, so that you're aware of what's available, even if you don't plan to use it.

There's no shame in deviating from what you requested in your birth plan; the ultimate goal is to deliver a healthy baby, and to keep your energy levels and your spirits high. It's also important to ask for pain relief as soon as you feel that things are getting away from you.

Mom: When I was in labor, the pain literally took my breath away, and I really did feel that I would be unable to continue. Changing position, walking around, and using a birthing ball proved to be a good distraction, even if they passed the time rather than provided relief, and I chanted to myself, over and over, "You can do it!" I dimly remembered that when the pain is at its worst you've hit "transition," which signals the beginning of the delivery itself, and it did help to know I was near the end, even if it did seem a long time in coming. Focus on how much you want your baby in your arms, and view every contraction as one step closer to that moment.

Midwife: Moms who are prepared for the pain seem to find that it isn't as bad as they thought it might be, and are able to cope using breathing exercises and massage. The best advice is to know your limits. If you find the pain unbearable, then ask for some pain relief. Ask the doctor or nurse what pain options are available to take the edge off of the discomfort, and make the process more bearable.

No woman can anticipate how her labor and delivery will proceed, and sometimes babies make things difficult by presenting themselves in awkward positions, or simply enjoying life inside a little too much to arrive promptly. Take things one step at a time, and when you know you've had enough, conserve your energy by getting the help you need. Any woman who delivers a healthy baby has had a successful delivery, and that's what's most important.

Keep an open mind about pain relief since you won't know how you'll handle the pain or what your pain threshold is until you're actually in labor.

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