This baby is lying in the breech position, with the umbilical cord seen as is travels toward the placenta in the top left-hand side of the image. Approximately 3 in every 100 babies will be in a breech position after 37 weeks.
In this late stage of pregnancy, sounds penetrate the uterus easily and there is no doubt that the baby can hear and respond to these before birth. Your baby will startle at loud sounds but now also turn toward familiar sounds, and practice looking for the source of the sound. Your baby is not only recognizing a wider range of sound frequencies, but also discriminating between different sounds as well as learning and remembering familiar sounds, such as your voice and that of your partner.
Your baby breathes more quickly when he's concentrating on sounds and his heart rate increases. Although the baby can hear at birth, the ear drum continues to thin out, at the same time becoming more mobile and responsive to sounds. Your voice will be the most familiar sound to your baby at birth.
It's normal to have doubts but be reassured that most women have enough milk, and with some help with positioning the baby can breast-feed without any problems. By this stage, you may even be leaking colostrum (see On leakages).
Try to keep an open mind and remember that the breast milk does not come in straight after the birth . Even if you have problems, try to persevere and don't feel pressured to give up just because it's convenient for the hospital staff or your partner, or because a friend or family member tells you it's not necessary.
Even if you don't end up breast-feeding, you can still get close to your baby by bottle-feeding.
You aren't alone if you're a dad-to-be who's feeling a bit bewildered and shell-shocked by the imminent arrival of your baby. To begin with, you can expect a lot of changes at home. Once your partner starts maternity leave, she may start a whirlwind of activity in preparation for the new arrival, and will need your help to get everything ready.
While supporting your partner both practically and emotionally will be important in the coming weeks, take care of yourself, too. Take every opportunity to get some rest. Even if you've agreed that your partner will do the majority of the nighttime baby care, your sleep will still be disrupted in the weeks after the birth. Catch up with friends now, but not to the point where you tire yourself out, and keep up your exercise routine, if you have one.
It's normal to feel anxious about what's ahead-both being a birth partner and a dad-but be reassured that somehow everything will fall into place. Focus on the thought of holding your newborn baby.
Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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