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13 days to go...

ultrasound of human fetus 38 weeks and 1 day

Your baby today

This baby's hand is in the same position as in the previous image, with the fist held tightly in front of the face. All of your baby's movements help build muscle strength and aid coordination, whether it's a kick or simply curling and uncurling the fingers.

With labor imminent, you'll be playing the waiting game. Staying active will help the time pass much more quickly.

You'll be resting a lot in the next two weeks. As your figure expands and you become more tired, it's natural to want to sit out the remainder of your pregnancy at home with your feet up, and put the answering machine on to field all the "Has it arrived?" inquiries!

It's fine to do this but it's good to remember that the very best way to stimulate labor is to keep active. What's more, the hormones produced by even gentle walking will lift your mood and help you feel more positive when your labor begins.

Try giving yourself one or two small tasks each day-perhaps meeting a friend for lunch, going for a very gentle swim, or purchasing some last-minute items for baby-being careful to stop and put your feet up when you feel tired. Be sensible about the type of activities you undertake, and avoid anything that could be exhausting or potentially dangerous; for example, bear in mind that your center of gravity is way off balance at the moment, and that wallpapering the nursery or carrying heavy groceries should definitely not be on your to-do list.

It may feel as though your life is on hold at the moment so that's why it's good to fill your time as best you can. Don't forget, however, that in just a couple of weeks you'll have your newborn occupying all your time.

The Lowdown

The power of music

Research has shown that women who listen to music during labor tend to feel less stressed and are less likely to need pain relief. There's also some evidence to suggest that babies born to the accompaniment of music are calmer.

One study compared different beats and found that classical, instrumental sounds were the most relaxing. Familiar tunes and rhythms could distract you from the pain and-if you choose the right track-help you focus on your breathing. Line up a selection of tunes on your iPod well in advance of labor.

Pregnant woman listening to music

Try out a selection of music to discover what you find most soothing, or invigorating. Labor is a bit like a mini-marathon and listening to the right tunes might just help you get to the finish line.

excerpted from:

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

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