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38 WEEKS, 2 DAYS

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ultrasound of human fetus 38 weeks and 2 days

Your baby today

Although your baby's head is deep within your pelvis, it will remain rounded in shape. It is not until labor starts that the bones of the skull move closer to each other, elongating the shape of the head, and allowing your baby to pass more easily along the birth canal.

Although your baby will be born with beautifully big eyes, it will be some time before he will see clearly at a distance.

Your baby's eyes are almost their adult size at birth. Although the eyes continue to grow very slightly until adolescence, and the lens within the eye grows throughout life, the eye is three-quarters of its adult size at birth. Both color (cones) and black and white visual cells (rods) are present in the retina but vision is still rather poor-equivalent to being able to just see the top letter of the optician's chart. This is referred to as 20/400 vision. This means than if the baby could read, then he could read a letter at 20 ft (6 m) that a person with perfect vision could read when 400 ft (122 m) away. Because of this, your newborn may not seem to pay much attention at first; he'll have some difficulty focusing and his eye muscles will be quite weak. He will, however, be able to see objects 12 in (30 cm) away; since this is roughly the distance between your breast and face, it means your baby can see your face as he nurses.

He'll be six to eight weeks old before fixing onto and following an object, four months before he can judge distances, and two years of age before his vision has perfected to 20/20.

As A Matter Of Fact

95 percent of babies don't arrive on their due date-of these 25 percent come early and 70 percent late.

There's a four-week window between 38 and 42 weeks of pregnancy that's regarded as normal and safe in medical circles.

A month is a long time to wait, so put a message on your voicemail along the lines of "We'll be in touch as soon as the baby's arrived." Keep yourself busy: have your hair done (much easier without a newborn in tow), catch up with friends, and, most importantly, get some sleep!

3D ultrasound picture of baby

Your baby will have gained weight steadily during these final weeks, with fat being laid down under the skin. If born now, he would have a plump, rounded appearance.

Ask A... Doctor

I don't often swear but is it true that I'm likely to subject my partner to verbal abuse during labor?

Possibly, but no one will blame you if you do! Giving birth can be incredibly painful, and you may feel emotional, irritable, shaky, and even nauseous. Don't worry too much about what you say and do: try to stay focused on the birth and ask for pain relief if you need it. Most birth partners will be forgiving and are unlikely to take the abuse personally. They will realize that you might not quite be yourself during childbirth-and if they've been by your side throughout labor will be fully understanding of what you're going through. You may also be irritable with your caregivers, but they will be used to this!

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