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40 Weeks Pregnant

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Your Baby

Check out what happened with your baby last week.

A mind of his own. "Maybe it's time for my big entrance . . . or maybe not!" As much as we adults love to follow a schedule, babies aren't such sticklers. So while you may be expecting a new family member this week, don't be disappointed if your little one decides to hang out in the warmth and safety of your body for a few more days or (dare we say it?) weeks. If your baby is stalling, your health care provider will keep a close eye on his weight gain and tolerance to contractions to be sure all is well.

Cramped quarters. Your baby is curled up tightly inside your uterus. He doesn't have much choice—it's pretty crowded in there. Even after he's born, his body will stay curled for a few weeks in this fetal position. He's gotten pretty accustomed to keeping his legs and arms snugly tucked. If your baby is in a breech position (feet or rump down), your provider may attempt to turn him. If that doesn't work, your provider may discuss with you the possibility of a Cesarean delivery.

Chubby cherub. Your little one has probably reached his final birth weight and length—the average baby is 7.5 pounds and 20.5 inches long (boys are a bit bigger than girls). Because he's been producing fat over the past few months, 15 percent of his body weight is now from fat, which will help him stay warm in the outside world. The rest of him—organs and body systems—is ready for life outside the womb too. He's stored starch in his liver to be made into glucose after birth, and he has extra fluid on board as well. Like a camel, he's well equipped to get through birth and the day after while your breast milk comes in.

Your Pregnancy

Wonder-full changes. As you near the end of your pregnancy, take a moment to reflect upon the incredible transformation your body has undergone in the past nine months. Your uterus is now a thousand times as big as it was when you conceived! And your breasts are two to three times larger than before you got pregnant; to prepare for breastfeeding. Each breast has gained about a pound and a half.

Last-minute indulgences. Don't be concerned if labor hasn't begun by 40 weeks. Even if you go longer, you're not considered late until you hit 42 weeks. Though you're probably eager to greet your child, try to relax, and consider these final days an opportunity to take time for yourself. Treat yourself to a pedicure or take in a movie. Read a book from cover to cover. Once your baby is born, you'll be on call 24 hours a day, and it may be a while before your time is your own.

Guess my age. Once your baby is born, you may discover that her true age is different from the one you calculated based on your last menstrual period or time of conception. Right after birth, a pediatric nurse or your baby's health care provider will evaluate her gestational age based on physical features and neurological development. It will be interesting to compare these different dates!

From the experts. One thing you should do in these final days is launder any new baby clothes you've received or purchased. "Some layette items have been treated with chemicals to help maintain their texture and color. These chemicals may irritate a newborn's sensitive skin if they're not washed out," explains Linda Jonides, R.N., C.P.N.P.

Thanks for sharing your pregnancy with us. Don't forget to visit our newborn area once your baby arrives.


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