The last week of your pregnancy (as long as your little one doesn’t decide to be fashionably late!), your baby is now 50cm in length and weight roughly 3.5kg, with fifteen percent of the body now consisting of fat to help keep him or her warm in the outside world!
Your baby is living in very cramped conditions and still receiving nutrients and antibodies from the placenta. Your little one should have manoeuvred themselves into the upside down position, ready for birth, within the last few weeks, however if this is not the case and your baby has remained in the breech position (with his or her feet at the uterus entrance), then you may be asked to try some positions to attempt to encourage your little one to correct his or her position,. Should this fail then you will most likely get offered a Caesarean birth, which is much safer for your breech baby and you.
Your baby has stored fluids in his or her body, like how a camel does, and their liver has stored starch to be used as energy straight after birth, so that your precious newborn has the essential supplies needed to make it through the birth until they begin to breastfeed.
At birth, your little one’s vision will be advanced enough that they can see 2.5 cm around them. Despite your baby being unfamiliar with your face, he or she will probably be responsive to your and your partner’s voices, especially if you have been talking to your bump over the last few weeks!
Once born your newborn will have their health evaluated and have the left over amniotic fluid, lanugo, vernix and blood washed off, and will then be swaddled. Unused to all this new room, your little one is likely to remain in the fetal position, and will enjoy being swaddled as it will remind him or her of the comforting closeness of your uterus.
The three biggest clues that you are going into labor are the thick and possibly bloody vaginal discharge (the mucus plug), the breaking of the membranes (your waters breaking!), and regular contractions increasing in strength (length) and frequency.
It is a common fear among new mums that you won’t physically be able to give birth! But rest assured, your body knows what it is doing, your baby’s size is likely to correlate with the size of you, your baby’s head is still soft and malleable, the ligaments in your pelvis have been loosened allowing them to expand outwards and your vagina will stretch a considerable amount during child birth! You will have your medical team around you who can assist if intervention is needed. Relax and let nature take its course.
At this final stage of your pregnancy, you will be feeling extremely impatient and anxious about going into labor. You may also be concerned about your waters breaking, worried that it might happen in public as a sudden gush of fluid! Fear not, as less than fifteen percent of women’s amniotic membranes rupture before labor, and it is usually more like a trickle or leak than a running tap! You are likely to feel a combination of impatience, trepidation, anxiety and excitement at this stage. You may also feel a fear at the lack of control that labor will bring, however trust your body and your medical team that however labor and delivery progress you will be in safe hands.
If you have any symptoms that concern you it is important to consult your doctor as soon as you can.