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You're in week 37 of your pregnancy!
Have you ever heard an old-forgotten song or smelled a familiar smell and found yourself thinking of a particular place or time? Stimulating your senses of touch, taste, sight, sound, and smell can be a powerful way to focus or distract your mind. Many women rely on this idea when seeking comfort in labor. Surrounding yourself with soothing music, sound, and touch can have a profound effect on the way your brain perceives pain during childbirth. Women who utilize techniques such as massage and water immersion report lower levels of pain during labor. This week, we’ll explore ways to stimulate your senses as a way to relieve labor pain.
What's New with Baby
This week, your baby has grown to roughly 19 inches from head to heel and weighs a little over 6 pounds about the size of a bunch of swiss chard. Nevertheless, he’ll continue to grow and develop while he is in the womb. Don’t be surprised if labor starts any day now. It may happen soon, or it may be as much as five weeks away. Think of your baby’s due-date this way: when a bag of popcorn is being cooked, it takes several minutes before any kernels pop. Slowly, a few early kernels will pop, then a flurry of popping occurs, and then a few later kernels will pop at the end. Each kernel is perfectly popped and did so at the time that was right for it to pop. Like those popping kernels, each baby has a specific time that is right for him or her to be born. Have patience, enjoy the quiet time you have while you and baby are still one, and know that your body and baby will know when the time is right.
What's New with You
Have you felt your baby ‘drop’? First time mothers may experience this sensation, also referred to as ‘lightening’, as early as a few weeks before the birth. This sensation occurs because your baby’s head has begun descending into your pelvic cavity in preparation for birth. You may breathe a little easier, as your diaphragm suddenly has a little more space to move. However you may have to pee more frequently, thanks to the weight of the baby on your bladder. Respond to your body’s urges and pee when you need to. Do not cut back on your fluid intake, as you can become dehydrated quickly. Not all women experience this sensation of lightening, and that’s perfectly fine. For some babies, especially in mothers who already have children, the movement into the pelvic cavity does not occur until labor begins.
Healthy Tip: Soothing Waters
For many people, the sound of moving water—ocean waves, a trickling waterfall or gentle raindrops—is peaceful and soothing. The feel of water in labor also can bring comfort and relieve pain. Early in labor, a warm shower can take your mind off any discomforts and relax your muscles. If you don’t feel like standing in the shower, bring in a water-safe chair and sit under the falling water. As labor becomes stronger and well-established, spending some time fully immersed in water can relax you between contractions and can help you cope with each surge. The water cradles your body and makes it easier to try different positions. These benefits may also speed up labor.
Depending on the facility where you plan to give birth, you may consider giving birth in a tub of water. Warm water helps your perineum gently stretch as you bring forth your baby. It can ease your baby’s transition into the world outside your womb, as it simulates the environment where your baby grew.
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