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ultrasound of human fetus 39 weeks and 6 days

Your baby today

It's been wonderful to see your baby's progress and facial features as each day of the pregnancy has passed by. 2D and 3D ultrasound images, as well as MRI, have all played a part in giving us a glimpse into the fascinating and complex world of life before birth.

Your newborn's stomach will be fully developed, but low acid levels mean she can only be fed milk for the first few months.

Unlike an adult, your baby produces little gastric acid and keeps amniotic fluid in the stomach longer; it is this fluid that helps keep the acid content of her stomach low. While your baby is in the uterus hiccupping, turning upside down, and trying to coordinate breathing with swallowing, not having much hydrochloric acid in the stomach is a good idea.

After birth the acid content of your baby's stomach will increase quickly in the first 24 hours but not reach adult levels until three months. This is why solids aren't introduced until a baby is at least four months old, although six months is the current advice on when to start weaning. Babies have a reflex to spit out solid food if it's introduced too early and will only be able to take about 20-25 ml of food before the stomach is full. So it's easy to see how the stomach can quickly be overloaded, resulting in spitting up, which is when the baby brings the food and some milk back up.

Ask A... Doctor

What exactly is a "bloody show"?

During pregnancy, a plug of jellylike mucus seals the lower end of your cervix and this prevents infection from getting into your uterus (see The "bloody show"). This "plug" comes away toward the end of pregnancy-known as a "bloody show"-and although this can mean that labor is going to start soon, it can also dislodge up to six weeks before your labor actually starts.

Raspberry leaf tea

Raspberry leaf tea is a traditional remedy in Europe. European studies have found that drinking this tea in the months prior to delivery (not before week 30) helps shorten the second stage of labor by helping the uterine muscles to contract more efficiently, so that contractions are more effective.

The tea is also said to reduce the risk of having an assisted delivery, such as emergency cesarean or vacuum.

In addition to this, raspberry leaf tea is believed to help the uterus to contract back to its normal size after the birth, and encourage the flow of breast milk.

As always you should talk to your doctor, before drinking any herbal teas or taking any kind of herbal remedies.

Cup of tea

The Lowdown

Take a break

Getting to know your newborn can be difficult if there's a constant stream of visitors bearing gifts and good wishes. Why not shut out the world and spend a few days home alone? Your newborn baby will sleep a lot, so take the opportunity to do the same. There will be plenty of time for people to meet the new member of your family.

Your hormones will be all over the place, so expect to experience lows as well as highs, especially when your milk comes in .

Your partner also needs time to bond with his baby, nurture you both, and come to grips with diaper changing.

So stick a message on the front door, switch on the answering machine, and snuggle up with your new family.

excerpted from:

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

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