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39 WEEKS EXACTLY

7 days to go...

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Your baby today

This baby can easily be seen at this late stage in the pregnancy because there is ample amniotic fluid present. The amount of amniotic fluid at this point is still extremely variable, but it is usually in the region of 0.75 pint (0.5 liter).

Use this time in the lead-in to labor to get your partner fully up to speed on how he can help you on the big day.

It's a good idea to prepare your partner in advance, and figure out what may help the proceedings once labor does begin. If you're planning on listening to music during labor, laboring in a tub, or walking around, inform your partner ahead of time what you think you'll expect from him.

Practice some massage strokes, and teach him how to do them (see Sleep Problems). Some women can't bear to be touched during labor, but others find it helpful to have their back, or even just their hands and feet, massaged. You won't really know what works for you until you're in labor but practicing massage now won't harm.

If your partner has been going to prenatal classes with you, he'll be familiar with the breathing and relaxation techniques so practice these together and, if necessary, get advice from your doctor about techniques.

It may be helpful for your partner to speak to male friends or relatives who have recently become fathers. Hearing the experiences of others and learning some do's and don'ts of being a birth partner might be useful.

As A Matter Of Fact

Whatever their weight, most babies at 40 weeks are approximately the same length.

Ninety-five percent are between 17.7 in (45 cm) and 21.6 in (55 cm) long. The length of newborn babies is remarkably consistent and relates to skeletal growth, whereas birth weight may vary considerably.

Final preparations

It's amazing that even after 40 weeks of pregnancy, when labor begins there is still a scramble to get everything organized as you head off to the hospital. So to avoid any last-minute panic:

  • Make sure your bag is packed (see Items for your hospital bag). You may also want to pin up a list of any extras you need to include at the last minute.
  • It's advisable to keep a small bag of change in your hospital bag to pay for parking, and drinks from vending machines.
  • Decide who will do what: so, for example, perhaps your partner could prepare snacks.
  • Do a trial run of the trip to the hospital-anticipating areas where there is likely to be traffic, seeking out shortcuts, and figuring out where you are most likely to find a parking space. It can also help to time the run at various points in the day, so that you can avoid school-run hotspots or commuter traffic. Also find out how to get into the maternity unit at night.
  • Above all, don't panic. The majority of parents-to-be do get to the hospital in plenty of time.

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