You're in week 42 of your pregnancy!
Congratulations! You and your baby experience pregnancy differently, yet here you are at the end of this journey together. As the adventure of pregnancy comes to an end, the birth of your baby begins yet another unforgettable journey together. It is important to still take time to nourish your body and your baby and prepare for the adventures of parenting. Continue to turn to Lamaze, as we have a whole host of resources for new parents. Once again, congratulations!
What's New with Baby
Although baby has been very comfortable in your uterus up to this point, it becomes a little less comfortable as the pregnancy extends past 42 weeks. Babies that are born post-term (greater than 42 weeks) often have dry skin, larger bodies, and an increased risk of having a bowel movement while still in the womb. The number of true post-term births is quite small, less than ten percent of all births. In some cases, the issue is not of true post-maturity but of an inaccurately estimated due date. Nevertheless, your care provider will have discussed induction options with you before you have reached this point in the pregnancy.
What's New with You
By now, you are more than ready to greet your little baby. Before having a medical induction, chat with your care provider about trying some self-help techniques at home. Acupressure from an experienced individual can trigger uterine contractions in some expectant mothers. In addition, sexual intercourse can help stimulate labor IF your baby and body are ready for it. Semen is rich in prostaglandins, which is a hormone that helps ripen and prepare the cervix for birth. The oxytocin hormone released during orgasm is also the hormone that causes uterine contractions. Nipple stimulation also produces a burst of oxytocin that can stimulate uterine contractions. If you are not feeling comfortable with intercourse, try nipple stimulation on its own to increase oxytocin levels in your body. Chat with your healthcare provider, doula, or childbirth educator about the best way to perform nipple stimulation at home.
Q&A With a Lamaze Educator
“I have a large extended family and most of them live nearby. They all seem so excited to meet the baby, but I'm getting overwhelmed at the thought of entertaining so many well-meaning visitors soon after giving birth. I’d frankly rather spend that time getting to know my baby and getting rest when I can. But I know my family members will be hurt if I don’t allow visits. How do I strike a balance between allowing my family to greet their newest member and getting the rest and privacy that I know we will need?”
Answer from Allison J. Walsh, IBCLC, LCCE, FACCE:
Congratulations on having your priorities in the right order! In the early days and weeks, nothing matters more than you getting to know your baby and catching up on rest whenever possible. Sometimes well-meaning family and friends have a way of hanging around a bit too long.
Though it may be hard, it’s best to talk about your concerns now. It may help to start with the positive, like how excited you are to welcome your baby and how much you look forward to them being a part of the fun. Then move on to the bigger issues. Depending on specific relationships, it might be more comfortable to put some of this on yourself. Think about saying something like “I’m so glad you live close by. I’m just worried that I’ll be really tired and don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings if there are times we just want to rest and be alone with the baby.” By doing so, you are acknowledging how important they are to you while being honest about how you really feel. If you think some friends and family members will take it personally, tell them that your midwife or doctor told you to limit visitors for the first week.
It’s impossible to say now how you will feel about having visitors after your birth. You may feel great and welcome everyone, or you may not be up to visitors right away. Try to give priority to the people in your life who are positive and encouraging, and limit those who are critical and demanding. Remember that you are the baby’s mother have the ultimate control, so say “no” to what doesn’t work for you.
Before your visitors come, set up expectations and time limits to suit you. For example, explain that you are all tired and are only up for a quick visit that does not involve cooking or cleaning. The postpartum period is no time to feel obligated to be the “hostess with the most-est”!
When your visitors arrive, feel free to answer the door in your pajamas or other lounging attire. Or better yet, stay in bed and have someone else answer the door. It is much harder for visitors to overstay their welcome if they must visit you in your bedroom rather than a living room. It’s really okay to reinforce the point that you need to rest and that this is a quick visit. A few well placed yawns can work wonders too! Think of your home as a very exclusive club and ask your partner to be the bouncer. Your bouncer can help to move the visitors along when you are ready for them to go.
If people ask what they can do to help, don’t be shy about telling them what you need—some groceries, help folding the laundry, a lasagna or your favorite dinner. People want to help but sometimes they need specific suggestions about the best way to be helpful. Sometimes it’s a good idea to put well-meaning visitors to work otherwise you might end up entertaining when you should be resting with your baby.
As for the other people in your life, like co-workers and neighbors who want to invite themselves over, make the most out of today’s technology. Place an “away” message on your email account as you would for vacations. You can alert them to the fact that your baby has arrived, give the vital statistics (date, gender, name, weight, etc.), and explain that you won’t be responding immediately. You can do the same for your answering machine message. Feel free to use the machine or caller ID to screen calls. Of course, you should take care of your important relationships, but your neighbor may just have to wait to get all the details. Think about the first few weeks as a “babymoon” just like a “honeymoon” after marriage. Let the world keep moving without you and bask in the love you have for your baby!
YOU DID IT! Be proud of yourself.
Allison Walsh is a childbirth educator and lactation consultant in private practice and at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. She is a past president of Lamaze International. Along with childbirth classes, Allison teaches breastfeeding, parenting, and infant care, volunteers as a La Leche League Leader, and is a tired but very happy mother of three.