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ultrasound of human fetus 37 weeks and 6 days

Your baby today

Estimating your baby's size by measuring from the top of the uterus to the front of your pelvic bone can give you an idea of size, but this is less accurate now. Your baby may not yet have moved down into the pelvis and the amount of fluid around your baby is variable.

Newborn babies can tightly hold someone's finger because of the grasp reflex, and this is already functioning in the uterus.

Inside the uterus your baby has developed a strong grasp reflex. The grip is so strong after birth that it could support your baby's weight. This grasp reflex persists until your baby is about six months old; she will then have more choice over whether to grasp an object or not.

Interestingly, your baby also has a similar reflex in the foot. This is the "plantar reflex" and it causes the toes to attempt to curl around your finger if the sole of the foot is stroked. The plantar reflex takes slightly longer to disappear after birth, typically persisting until 12 months of age. Another reflex action causes the toes to spread out if the side of the foot is stroked. These reflexes and others seem to be quite primitive in nature and although they are thought to protect the baby, the precise function of each reflex is not fully understood.

The Lowdown


Could owls give us an insight into pregnancy and birth? It's doubtful, but these myths are entertaining!

  • If a pregnant woman hears the shriek of an owl, her child will definitely be a girl.
  • An owl living in the attic of a house will cause a problem with the baby.
  • When the time comes to give birth there should be no owls in the delivery room-if they hoot at the moment of birth the child will have a miserable life.

As A Matter Of Fact

Second labors are usually shorter in duration than first labors.

This usually means an easier labor, but a second baby could be bigger than a first, or positioned differently. There are many factors to consider.

Ask A... Doctor

Is it true that natural or water births are best for the baby?

Most childbirth experts would agree that a straightforward vaginal birth is the safest form of birth for both mother and baby. It is also generally considered safe to use water as a method of relieving the pain in uncomplicated labors.

However, it is sometimes not possible to achieve a straightforward vaginal delivery due to certain situations that can arise during, labor and birth. If a problem with either the mother or baby occurs, the medical team will advise you on the safest way of delivering the baby.

It's important to think about the type of birth you would prefer and are comfortable with, but be prepared to be flexible and to see how labor unfolds. Speak to your doctor to find out if there's a birthing pool you can use at your hospital.

Woman in birthing pool

In addition to being an effective way to relax, using a birthing pool can speed up labor. It is thought that water sets off a surge of the hormone oxytocin, which triggers contractions.

excerpted from:

Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
Buy this book now!

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