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Third Trimester 1stTrimester     2ndTrimester

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37 WEEKS, 3 DAYS

18 days to go...

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Your baby today

With each day that goes by delivery is becoming ever more likely. You may experience Braxton-Hicks' contractions, which help to soften the cervix and prepare for labor. The amniotic fluid that surrounds your baby ensures she'll hardly notice these mild tightenings.

It's a good idea to give some thought to life after the birth, and ensure you have adequate help and support lined up.

Even at this late stage of pregnancy, it may still be hard to imagine your baby being born and living in your home. You and your partner may settle into life with your newborn with ease, and manage without any help, but it's still a good idea to have backup support just in case.

What you may not be prepared for is the fact that you're likely to be exhausted after weeks of poor sleep during pregnancy, and the rigors of labor itself. Add to this interrupted nights' sleep and the whole adjustment to being a new parent, and you may well find you'll need to call on people to help practically and emotionally.

It can help enormously to have a good support network set up in advance. Ideally, this will be close family and friends who you know you can rely on to drop in to help, but who will also know when you need to be left alone. Even an hour's help to prepare you a nutritious meal, or hold your baby while you get a much-needed rest or a shower, can give you some welcome respite.

Have the number on hand for your lactation consultant, so that you can ask for advice. Also get on the phone to moms-to-be whom you've met at prenatal classes; they more than anyone will be able to relate to how you're feeling.

Don't be too proud to accept help with housework and shopping. Knowing these tasks are taken care of will help you relax and focus on your baby.

Try to limit the number of guests you have in the early days, and make sure that they are warned that visits will be short. Although you will be desperate to show off your new baby, visits can be draining so it's better to wait until some routines are more established.

Focus On... Nutrition

Healthy snacking

Large meals are likely to leave you feeling uncomfortably full, especially late in the third trimester. If you go long periods of time between meals, you may become light-headed and feel weak from hypoglycemia-low blood sugar. This is because the baby is constantly drawing glucose from your bloodstream.

Healthy snacking is the key to eating well and comfortably:

  • Keep lots of fresh fruit on display in a bowl so you'll remember to eat it.
  • Stock your cupboards with a variety of dried fruits and nuts.
  • Hard boil eggs and keep them in the fridge. Try eating them with a sprinkle of salt to quell that salt craving.
  • Buy or make some frozen juice pops and keep them in the freezer. Some women also find it refreshing to suck on these during labor.

Yogurt is a nutritious and healthy snack for any time of day. For variety and additional nutrients, sprinkle granola or dried fruit on top.

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