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38 WEEKS EXACTLY

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ultrasound of human fetus 38 weeks exactly

Your baby today

The back of the hand is held up against the mouth in this image. Your baby will be practicing suckling at every opportunity, but this will be with parts of the hands, thumbs or fingers, since it's no longer easy to reach the toes.

If you haven't found out the sex of your baby, the excitement will be building; if you have, you can get very organized!

Knowing the sex of your baby enables you to decide on the name, buy specific outfits, and even decorate the nursery, if you have one, in a certain way. Remember, however, there's a chance that the scan (see Your 20-week Scan) gave you misleading information. The only way to be absolutely certain of the baby's gender is if you found out following a diagnostic test, such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (see Diagnostic Tests).

If you know the sex, you won't have the same incentive of a surprise at the end of your labor, but you may feel you can bond more closely with your baby during pregnancy and picture what he or she will be like as a newborn.

If you don't know the sex yet, then you will have a well-earned surprise after your hard work in labor. Some women who don't know the sex of their babies say that they have a strong instinct that the baby is a particular sex, but may be quite surprised when they have a baby of the opposite sex.

Try to keep an open mind and not raise your hopes about having a baby of a certain gender-the odds are slightly in favor of you having a boy.

Ask A... Doctor

My baby is in a posterior position. How will this affect my labor?

In the posterior position the baby faces your belly instead of your spine (see Lie and presentation). This position may prolong your labor, which can be tiring, and cause more of a backache. If this is the case, you can try the same methods as for turning a breech baby (see Repositioning your baby) to encourage your baby to move into an anterior position.

Sometimes the baby turns with the help of contractions when you are in fully established labor. If she doesn't turn, intervention such as the use of forceps or vacuum (see Assisted Birth) may be needed.

Pregnant woman holding onesies

While knowing the sex of your baby helps you make decisions, such as should you buy pink or blue, not knowing gives you a greater sense of anticipation.

The Lowdown

Boys and girls

Still wondering what you're having? Well, to help you guess, you might want to bear in mind a few more old wives' tales...

  • If you have soft hands you're having a girl, rough hands you're having a boy.
  • If the father-to-be is nervous, it's a girl, if he's relaxed it's a boy.
  • If the mother picks up her coffee cup with two hands it's a girl, if she picks it up by the handle it's a boy.
  • If you have a sensitive belly button it's a girl, if you have cold feet it's almost certainly a boy!

As A Matter Of Fact

Your body is designed to handle the pain of labor!

Nobody likes pain, but your body's endorphin levels will increase during labor to help you cope with it. So it's reassuring to know that as the intensity of the contractions build, so does your ability to handle them.

excerpted from:

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

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