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39 WEEKS, 3 DAYS

4 days to go...

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ultrasound of human fetus 39 weeks and 3 days

Your baby today

Once labor starts your baby will no longer have room to place her hands on top of her head or by her face although, interestingly, she is still moving around-you probably won't notice these movements since you will have other things on your mind.

The inquiries may begin flooding in this week and it will feel as though the whole world is awaiting news of your baby's arrival.

In this final week of your pregnancy, the weight of expectation can be immense. It can feel as though everyone is waiting for you to pop, especially if it's your first baby.

You'll no doubt cope with it this week-and you may even enjoy getting all the attention-but if you happen to go overdue you might get frustrated by the constant calls and by having to repeat yourself. Try to be patient and remember people are simply excited for you and are just as frustrated with waiting as you are.

Matters aren't helped by the due date. Everyone will have this estimated date in mind, but unfortunately not many babies stick to a schedule and they enter the world exactly when they are ready (see You are 38 Weeks and 2 Days). Up to 42 weeks isn't really considered that late in medical circles. If it all becomes too much, rely on others close to you to field all the calls and make it clear that you promise to be in touch with an announcement just as soon as there is any news.

Focus On... Your body

False labor

You may experience deep and painful twinges, and practice contractions, known as Braxton-Hicks', particularly toward the end of pregnancy. It's easy to mistake these for the real thing, and you may find yourself rushing to the hospital when your body is really still practicing. You may also experience regular contractions for a period, which then stop. All of this is normal.

One sure sign that labor is imminent is that you lose your mucus plug (see The "bloody show"), another is your water breaking. In some cases, however, neither of these events takes place until labor is established, so don't panic if they don't happen to you.

You'll definitely know you're in labor when your contractions are occurring regularly, approximately every 15 minutes-time the gap between them. True contractions will get longer, stronger, and closer together as time goes on, and won't go away when you walk around or change position.

Pregnant woman texting

Text messaging can be a useful way of staying in touch with people in the final days. Sending out a circular "baby hasn't arrived yet" message is a good idea.

Ask A... Doctor

Is it worth paying extra for a private room when I'm in the hospital?

This is entirely up to you. It is expensive; it can cost a few hundred dollars a night, but some women find it money well spent. In addition to giving you more privacy and private time to bond with your new baby and your partner, a private room will be quieter, and you won't have as many interruptions, since you won't have medical staff coming in to treat a roommate. A private room can also make a difference in getting good rest at night, especially if you are a light sleeper.

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