Your uterus is probably up under your ribs and you may be feeling that you have run out of room. This is normal, and to be expected since your baby is now about 20.7 inches (46 cm) long and weighs in around 6 pounds (2750 g). Babies vary in weight from 3 to 6.5 pounds at this point, with the size depending on a number of variables including genetics, the mother’s nutrition and overall health.
His lungs are completing the maturation process, and he continues to practice his breathing movements. His muscle and brain development is enough that he can grasp things in his fingers and turn his body towards a source of light.
If your baby is a boy, his testicles have descended into the scrotum now. If your baby is a girl, her labia have developed. Because she has been practicing sucking and swallowing with the amniotic fluid, there is beginning to be a build-up of waste materials in the intestines. This material is called meconium, and will be your baby’s first bowel movements.
Your baby is increasing surfactant production for the lungs to prepare for labor. He is also benefiting from your antibodies, which are supplied to him through the placenta. Most of the lanugo hair is gone, and the vernix is disappearing.
Your baby is practically ready to be born. A few last details to give him a great start in the world beyond your womb and he’s on his way. At the end of the 40th week your baby will be around 14-15 inches from crown to rump and weigh about 6-8 pounds.
You may be feeling a little clumsy this month as your body prepares to stretch the pelvis for labor. The hormones that loosen the pelvis will loosen every joint in your body.
You may also find it getting more difficult to sleep at night. Your large belly and your thoughts about the new baby can be too much to overcome, even when you are tired. Experiment with various sleeping positions and locations until you can get comfortable.
Your breasts may be swelling as they begin to fill with milk. Hormones secreted from the placenta trigger the milk production, however it will not get into full swing until after your baby is born.
Some women seem to have a nesting instinct at this point. They clean and re-clean the house, or stock up on foods for when the baby is born. It’s ok to prepare, but don’t wear yourself out.
Many women find themselves preoccupied with the question, “When will labor start?” Other women explore natural options to start labor, especially if they are pregnant after their due date.
However, for most women, waiting for labor to start on its own is the best option.
The following concerns are commonly experienced during this month. Please click an item to learn why it happens and what you can do about it.
Heartburn and Indigestion
Shortness of Breath
To Do List
- Make sure you are using proper body mechanics to avoid aches and pains and to keep your pelvis well aligned for your baby to move into position for labor.
- Get plenty of rest, and continue your good nutrition and exercise.
- If you plan to breastfeed, be sure you have any nursing bras, tops or covers you would like to feel comfortable nursing in public. These items are not necessary to breastfeed, however many women find them helpful.
- Make copies of your birth plan to have available at your chosen birth place.
- Gather the information you need for any religious ceremonies you would like to have performed for your new baby. Make sure you have the information you need to arrange for the ceremony within any specified time.
- You will want to arrange for help after your baby is born. This can be as formal as hiring a postpartum doula, or as informal as making a list of chores other family members will need to help with. Some mothers find making double batches of dinners and freezing the extra is helpful for the immediate postpartum. Other mothers take friends and family members up on the offer of providing a meal after baby is born.
- If you will be sending baby announcements or inviting friends and family to a baby welcoming ceremony, this is a good time to address envelopes and prepare as much of the mailing as possible to save time and energy after the baby is born.
- No matter what decisions you made about using pain relieving medications during labor, you need to be practicing comfort measures. Although an epidural can give you relief in as fast as 20 minutes, it generally takes up to an hour from the time you request it until you feel its effects. This is due to the set-up that needs to be done for the anesthesiologist to be ready. During that time you will need to do something to manage your contractions and your only option will be the natural comfort measures.
- You should have chosen a diapering strategy for your new baby. Most families find it helpful to have any necessary materials for diapering stored in a convenient diapering place before the baby is born. This may include several cloth or disposable diapers, cleaning cloths, and a way to properly dispose of baby waste. Contrary to common practice, solid waste should not be wrapped up and tossed in the garbage with a disposable diaper. Instead, solid waste should be placed in a toilet.