Weeks 39 and 40
We did it! We are now officially term. I saw my Gynae yesterday, and she is very happy with everything. You can come any day now….please??
You are head down (vertex), on the left-hand side, facing my back (anterior position). You are low down in my pelvis, and so the doc thought it prudent to do a quick pelvic exam. She checked your position and my cervix, which is soft and effaced. Ready for the hormones from you and the placenta to start the rhythm of birth. She went over the pointers for when to come in to the labour ward (each hospital has its own protocol for Covid and Covid testing so ask about those so you know exactly what to do in the excited rush, if waters break etc).
These are the signs of labour, so I went over these with Daddy. My bag is packed and at the door!
In the beginning of early labour (I will go from 0-10 cms dilation) the first 1-3 cms often feel just like Braxton Hicks contractions of pre-labour. Very soon they will become more noticeably regular. We can start timing them (or use one of the Apps that are available). We will notice that the contractions will last longer each time (will come in waves, mild at first, then strengthens, then tapers off again). The interval before the last one ended and the next one begins, will get sooner and sooner. They will start in my lower back, come round to the front and then get more and more painful as labour progresses. My whole uterus will get very hard and even lift up and forward during a labour contraction. Often the mucous plug will come away if it hasn’t already.
Water may break. Always come in to the hospital (Covid protocol permitting) to allow the midwife to check that baby’s heart rate is ok and the colour of the liquor. You may be allowed to go home if things are still very early, or they may prefer to keep you with them seeing you have had your Covid test, etc. Don’t wait for the waters to break if you are having regular contractions. Sometimes the doctor has to rupture them or they will break just before delivery….
Some labour will start with a runny tummy.
Lots of pelvic pressure as you move lower.
Lightning crotch… this can occur towards the end of pregnancy as the baby starts pressing on nerves and stretching ligaments. It feels like a lightning bolt in your vagina….
Moms may feel very tired and emotional at the start of labour due to the hormones….
So I am really waiting for all this to happen….I can’t wait to meet you!
Hello My Mommy,
Well, I am just finishing off some really important brain cell growth and development here. My brain cells are dividing in the 100s of thousands per second! My brain tissue has now curled over itself to accommodate all this incredible growth (looks like a walnut). This is marked at these last few weeks of pregnancy, so if you can wait for me to arrive naturally, that would be great!
My lungs have secreted a substance called surfactant. This is because my little air sacs are all stuck together as my lungs are not breathing air yet. Most of my blood volume is directed away from my lungs (through the hole in my heart). Once I take my first breath, these little sacs will pull apart and fill with air. The “extra blood” that is in my placenta will come back to me and be redirected to my lungs now, to start the process of gaseous exchange. So if the Caregiver could please wait until my cord goes white and stops pulsating, that would be awesome. (If you are wanting to collect cord blood to store, chat to your Caregiver about still allowing some time before collecting my cord blood). The hole in my heart should close within the first 3 or so days. If not, it can be heard as a murmur and my Paediatrician will keep an eye on it.
I am downloading some glucose in my liver so that when I am born I can use it for energy until I am feeding on your amazing colostrum.
I have very special fatty tissue called brown fat that I have over my back to generate heat to help me regulate my body temperature until I can do that for myself.
All these amazing things are regulated by cortisol which is a stress hormone. So my body uses the stress of labour to actually prepare my body to cope with life outside the womb! When I am totally ready for birth, I will release cortisol and special hormones to start the contractions of labour. A few hours later I will be ready to meet you!
So Mommy, even though this is the way Nature has designed me to come into the world, I know that sometimes that is not the way many babies end up being delivered. At the end of the day, we want a healthy mom and healthy baby more than a mode of delivery! So you need to listen to your Caregiver if they are concerned about our health….
Speaking of safety..please make sure you know how to secure me in a safety seat! Ask Daddy to put it in the car, behind the driver’s seat, facing backwards, now already!
So some babies will arrive naturally around 40 weeks. Most actually don’t arrive on their due date. Some healthy babies can arrive at 41 or 42 weeks. Your caregiver will advise you on this…
Hello my baby….here you are!
Hello my Mommy…wow you are prettier than I imagined !!
Our Diary of a Pregnancy series is written by Sr Des Meyer, a Perinatal Educator, in private practice, who is based in Durban North. Sr Des has been a Childbirth Educator and Well Baby Clinic sister since 1991. Her passion lies in educating new parents to enable them to achieve their goals as confident parents. “Knowledge is power and a good foundation for the exciting years ahead.”