The Gift of Motherhood
Congratulations You're Pregnant!
What is my Due Date?
A full-term baby usually goes 266 days from conception to birth. You may know exactly when you conceived. If so, tell your healthcare provider. Calculate your due date by subtracting 3 months from the first day of your last menstrual period and adding 1 week. Only 1 in 20 babies is delivered exactly on the calculated day, although most are born within 10 days of the expected date.
Why I Need Prenatal Care
Prenatal care can help keep you and your baby healthy. Your healthcare provider will schedule you for many appointments over the course of your pregnancy. Don't miss any - they are all important. Your initial office visit includes:
Urine specimen for sugar and proteins
Complete blood count
Serology (syphilis test)
Blood type, Rh factor and antibody screen
Cervical and vaginal cultures (if necessary)
Urine culture (if necessary)
Hepatitis B screening
HIV testing with consent
The fertilized egg is called an ovum. It divides and re-divides forming a cluster of cells.
These cells take on special identities and functions forming the embryo, amniotic sac and placenta.
The circulatory sytstem and other vital organs begin to form, including the heart, brain, lungs, eyes and ears.
The placenta and umbilical cord develop and the baby is well protected from harm in a sac of liquid called amniotic fluid.
During the first month your baby reaches 1/2 inch in length and is called an embryo.
The sex of your baby is determined at the moment of conception by the chromosomes of the father. Two X chromosomes for a girl and an X and Y chromosome for a boy.
Ideas for Dad:
Is Mom ignoring you while she's waiting and hoping her period will (won't) start at the end of the week? Or is she a clinging vine? Whichever (and nearly everything in between) she is, she's normal. It can be an emotional time for her.
Early Symptoms of Pregnancy
Breasts may feel tender and swollen
Faintness or dizziness
Food aversions or cravings
Take Care of Yourself and Your Baby
Take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin with 400 mcgs. of folic acid every day.
Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, grains and calcium-rich foods.
Avoid uncooked meat or fish.
Stay away from chemicals like insecticides, solvents, lead and mercury. Not all products have pregnancy warnings on their labels. If you're unsure if a product is safe, do not use it!
Avoid or control caffeine in your diet. Pregnant women should have no more than 2 servings of caffeine per day. Remember that teas, sodas and chocolate may contain caffeine.
Avoid hot tubs, saunas and x-rays.
If you have a cat, ask your healthcare provider about toxoplasmosis. This infection is caused by a parasite sometimes found in cat feces. Avoid cleaning the litter box and working in a garden area solied by cats.
Alcohol - Avoid alcohol while you are pregnant. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause birth defects, learning disabilities, behavioral problems and mental retardation in your baby.
Smoking - Women who smoke during pregnancy give birth to babies whose birth weights are lower than average. If you smoke, you will have a greater chance of miscarriage or stillbirth. Now's a great time to stop!
Medications - Avoid using medications of any kind during your pregnancy, unless your healthcare provider specifically prescribes one for you. This also applies to over-the-counter drugs and herbal preparations.
Hard Drugs - Substance abuse during your pregnancy victimizes your unborn child and has been linked with low birthweight babies, fetal distress and premature birth. These newborns often begin life with withdrawal symptoms.
Morning Sickness Tips
Eat bread and crackers before you get out of bed each morning.
Get out of bed slowly - don't jump up.
Try yogurt, milk or juice before bedtime.
Avoid greasy, fried foods or spicy foods.
Eat several small meals during the day rather than a few large meals.
When sick, get fresh air, take deep breaths and sip water.
The embryo is beginning to look more human.
Tiny notches for the toes and fingers are developing.
Elbows form and your baby begins bending and flexing.
Facial features are becoming more pronounced. Eyelids form, but remain closed. Nostrils are formed and the nose moves into the correct position.
The head seems huge compared to the body because the brain is growing at a very rapid pace.
By the end of 8 weeks, the embryo is about 1 inch long and weighs less than 1 ounce.
Ideas for Dad:
Mom maybe feeling crummy and taking it out on you (or anyone else around). Try no to take it personally. Plan a special date to celebrate your positive pregnancy test.
If morning sickness has hit home, there are a few things you can do to help: 1) Certain smells can make Mom queasy - even things like coffee can set off a wave of nausea. Try to keep these things away until the morning sickness abates; 2) encourage Mom to maintain a healthy diet high in protein and carbohydrates and to drink lots of fluids, especially water; 3) set some saltine crackers or pretzels by the bed and encourage her to eat some BEFORE she gets out of bed; 4) understand that she may not feel up to cooking, cleaning and other household chores right now. You can be a big help to her (and baby) by suggesting she rest while you do some of her chores you don't normally do.
Do you have a cat? If so, Dad, PLEASE take over the job of cleaning the litter box. Cat feces can contain a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis - an infection that can cross the placenta and harm your baby.
When Mom goes to her first prenatal appointment, you'll be doing yourself a huge favor by making every effort to go with her. Be an involved parent NOW! Ask the doctor/midwife questions and share in this adventure. Take Mom out for a nice meal afterwards to celebrate and talk about the appointment.
Throughout your entire pregnancy, the health of both you and your baby is your healthcare provider's main concern. New and innovative tests are available to carefully monitor your health and the progress of your baby. Today, many fetal problems can be detected and treated while the baby is still in the womb. Several screening tests are performed on all pregnant mothers, regardless of family history and risk factors. Others are only used for mothers considered to be high-risk.
Your mother may tell you that HER doctor said to gain only 10 lbs., but times have changed. Today, much more is known about fetal needs and development. An average weight gain during pregnancy is 25 to 35 lbs.
Sources of Maternal Weight Gain
Uterus - 2 lbs.
Blood Volume - 4 lbs.
Breasts - 2 lbs.
Boby Fluid - 4 lbs.
Maternal Stores: (fat, protein, nutrients) - 7 lbs.
Sources of Fetal Weight Gain
Fetus - 6-8 lbs.
Placenta & Membranes - 1 1/2 lbs.
Amniotic Fluid - 2 lbs.
Headaches are one of the most common complaints along with nausea in the first few months of pregnancy. Most headache remedies are not helpful. These headaches are caused by blood circulation changes and will usually disappear after the first half of the pregnancy.
Pickles & Ice Cream?
Pica is the medical term for the unusual cravings from strange foods that you may experience during pregnancy. Healthcare professionals do not know why this happens, but many women experience it.
By 3 months, the baby is called a fetus.
It is starting to grow faster and is now 4 inches long and weighs a little over an ounce.
Fingernails and toenails are growing and, for some, a little hair may sprout.
At this time, the heartbeat may be detected.
The eyelids fuse shut and both iris begin to develop.
The genitals begin to take on the proper gender characteristics.
Your little one is wiggling, shifting, and dancing in your womb! It is too soon, though, for you to feel him.
Ideas for Dad:
If mom isn't on the same wavelength you are, this can be tough. Be understanding and remember that her hormones can make her moods move like a yo-yo in perpetual motion.
Mom is probably singing the moody blues right now, and you may be humming right along with her. One minute you may want to shout from the rooftops that you're going to be a father. The next minute, you want to forget about it and you're terrified of the very idea of fatherhood. Share these thoughts - the excitement and fears - with mom. She's probably feeling as you are too.
Is this whole pregnancy business getting to you? The highs and lows, the endless worries about finances and responsibilities, seeing mom puking her guts out day after day? Dad, you need a break. Be good to yourself and take a few hours off to play a round of golf, workout at the gym or do something with your buddies. When you come home, surprise mom with a single long stem red rose and a little note that says, "Thanks Honey. I love you."
Mom is probably feeling better. Now's a good time to exercise with her regularly. Go ourt for a nice walk in your neighborhood and be sure to hold hands.
Listen to Baby's Heartbeat!
Your healthcare provider may use a Doppler, which is a special ultrasound instrument, to hear your baby's heartbeat. The beating of the baby's heart will be soft at first and grow stronger as your little one grows.
Call your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any of the symptoms listed below:
- Bleeding from nipples, rectum, bladder or coughing up blood
- Vaginal bleeding, no matter how slight
- Swelling of hands or face
- Dimness or blurring of vision
- Severe or continuous headaches
- Abdominal pain that does not go away
- Chills or fever over 100F
- Persistent vomiting
- Painful or burning urination
- Decrease in fetal movement
- Sudden or slow escape of fluid from the vagina
- Mood Swings
It is not uncommon for pregnant women to feel joyous 1 minute and burst into tears the next. These up and down mood swings are just a part of the hormonal changes going on in your body.
Desire for sex may arise or fall significantly during pregnancy. If you lose interest in sex, do not worry. It happens to a lot of women and does not usually last long.
Unless your healthcare provider tells you otherwise, it is important to incorporate exercise during your entire pregnancy to develop muscle strength for labor. It also helps with backaches, circulation, insomnia and weight control.
The Pelvic Rock is probably the most common exercise taught in childbirth classes, and for good reason - it helps. You can use it before and after delivery. Pelvic rocking helps to relive a sore back by stretching the lower back muscles. You can do it lying on your back, standing, or on "all fours".
The fast-growing fetus is now more than 6 inches long and weighs about 5 ounces.
The baby's teeth, eyelids, eyelashes and extremities are developing in detail and moving into position.
The hands are becoming more functional and the baby may play with their fist.
Your little one may start sucking their thumb.
Baby's neck is getting longer and the chin no longer is resting on his chest.
The fetus can now hear and swallow.
Very fine hair, called lanugo, covers the baby's body to protect the skin while in its watery womb. This is generally shed prior to birth.
Ideas for Dad:
Welcome to the second trimester Dad! The next few months are the easiest of the pregnancy. Mom is feeling better, the hormones have settled in, and she's not huge and uncomfortable yet. Celebrate the completion of your first trimester with a special date.
How are you dad? Are you totally stressed out worrying about financies, working overtime and fretting about expenses? If so, stop and take a deep breath and then try to rationally assess your situation. Are your worries out of proportion to your family's real needs? Many times, men are expected to handle family finances which become dad's focus while he's actually hiding his true worries - fear of fatherhood and the pregnancy. This about what your REAL worries are. Often putting your finger on them is enough to make them smaller.
Make sure to hug mom often. Research tells us that the more hugs mom gets, the more she'll hug the baby ( and you too)!
Dad, do you have a life insurance police and a will? It may sound morbid to think about now but this is a perfect time to get both. If something should happen to either of your baby's parents, the other shouldn't have to worry about mortgage payments, college tuition, etc.
You're Nearly Half Way!
Feel a "Flutter"
Did you know your baby has a sleep-wake cycle lasting from 20 minutes to 2 hours? This and many other factors influence the mother's ability to feel her baby move. Women typically feel that first "flutter" of life - called quickening - between 16 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. Fetal movement is more noticeable in mid-pregnancy and may diminish as the pregnancy progresses to term.
The need to frequently urinate is the first stages of pregnancy and in the last weeks as well. Do not try to control this issue by drinking fewer fluids. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need to drink additional fluids. It is important to drink when thirsty so you do not become dehydrated.
You may experience a sharp pain in either or both groin regions from stretching and spasms of the round ligaments. These cord-like structures originate beneath the groin and extend to the top of the uterus on both sides. Round ligament pain may be aggravated by sudden movements such as rolling over in bed or simply by walking.
Leg cramps may start to plague you especially at night during your second trimester and get worse as your baby grows and your belly gets bigger. Stretch your calf muscles during the day and several times before going to bed. If you get a cramp, straighten your leg and gently flex your toes toward your head. This will ease the spasm allowing the pain to slowly go away.
Heartburn is another complaint of pregnant women. This is common indigestion, but it can still be an aggravation. Try eating smaller or more frequent meals if heartburn is a problem for you.
Do not let yourself get worn out during work or play. Get a good 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night and do not feel guilty about taking a nap in the middle of the day.
This month you may feel the baby move for the first time. A word about this: if you feel that little flutter of life one day and not again for several days, don't be alarmed. Your baby is suspended in a sea of amniotic fluid and you may not be able to feel its every move. The fetus may get very active for a day or two, then settle down for a few days. The baby needs to rest, too!
Cartilage and bones begin to form.
The basic structure of the eye is well underway and is positioned like a newborn already.
The fingers and toes are webbed and short in length.
Your little one has now grown to about 10 inches in length and weights 1/2 to 1 pound.
Ideas for Dad:
Mom may be feeling the baby moving within her but you may not be able to yet. She may tell for you to quickly put your hand on her tummy, but you feel nothing. Don't worry - the baby has nothing against you. They play games very early! Humor mom, place your hand on her tummy and one of these days, you'll feel your little one - and your heart will be stolen forever.
Are you a "Mr. Fix-It" kind of guy? It's common for dads to feel very protective of moms. Often, Mom will need a big shoulder to cry on and get out all of those crazy pregnancy emotions. Dad can feel rather helpless listening to Mom carry on, and in his frustration, try to do what he can to "fix" whatever she's grumbling about. Dad, relax. Nine times out of ten, Mom just needs to vent and really doesn't expect you to act upon her complaints. As hard as it may be for you, just LISTEN! Give her your undivided attention. This is the best gift you can give to Mom.
You've felt your babyt move within Mom's womb, and BLAM! It hits you like a ton of bricks - YOU'RE GOING TO BE A FATHER! You're excited and then terrified. You may be questioning yourself as to whether you're ready to be a father or whether you'll be a good dad. If you didn't have a good role model as a child, you may be even more concerned. You may be wondering if you can take care of a family or if you can provide for one. This one little kick can open a Pandora's Box that you weren't prepared to handle. If you find yourself preoccupied with such thoughts, don't worry. You're experiencing a normal reaction to impending fatherhood. Mom is probably having similar thoughts about herself in her role as mother. Go ahead and discuss these feelings with Mom. Read up on pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. And - give yourself a break when you need one.
Mom may be checking into various childbirth classes available in your area and reporting to you with dates, times, styles of childbirth and all kinds of things you may have never heard of before. This is important to Mom (and to you too) so jump in there and be ready to head off to class! Some dads feels reluctant to go while others are very excited. If you're feeling a little reluctant, remember that you'll get to ask the instructor lots of questions and meet other dads who probably feel just like you do; all of which can go a long way to squelch your fears.
Healthy Eating for You and Baby
Your appetite should improve by this month. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), about 300 extra calories are needed daily to maintain a healthy pregnancy. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and low-fat protein for the extra calories your baby needs.
Certain foods contain larger amounts of sodium than others. Look at the labels and try to maintain a low-sodium diet. Some women may get anemic during pregnancy which causes them to feel tired all the time. Anemia can be caused by not consuming enough iron in your diet. Eat foods rich in iron and take iron supplements if prescribed by your healthcare provider.
Oh My Aching Back!
As your womb grows, your pelvic bone joints relax, which can also cause pain in your lower back. Comfortable shoes and good posture may help, but exercise will probably relieve your backache more than anything else.
Changing hormone levels can cause skin color changes, but they usually all go away or fade dramatically after the baby is born. Your skin may simply look "flushed," or, if you have especially pale skin, you may develop brownish markings on your face. Some women get a dark line down the middle of their abdomen, where the skin darkens considerably from the navel to the pubic hair - this is called linea nigra and should disappear 6 months to a year after delivery.
Fathers & Siblings
While you are pregnant, the baby's father is also going through changes. Anxieties, fears, doubts, joys and stresses about becoming a father and new priorities rush to the forefront. Plus, he may have to deal with your mood swings! Try to include your partner in the pregnancy as much as possible.
If this is not your first child, give other children advance notice about the new baby. They will become curious as your belly enlarges. Ask your healthcare provider about an appropriate time to bring the older children to the office so they can hear the baby's heartbeat.
The fetus now resembles a miniature infant except for his reddish, wrinkled skin.
He is very thin and will begin to put on fat during the remaining weeks.
Your baby measures about 12 inches in length and weighs about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds.
He starts to move with increased frequency.
His eyes begin to open and eyelids and eyebrows are fully formed.
Hair begins to grow.
Your baby can now hear you talking, reading and singing to them.
Fingernails have grown to the end of their fingers.
Your baby sometimes sucks his thumb and can also hiccup.
Ideas for Dad:
With the second trimester being the easiest, this is a good time for planning and preparing together. The "pukiness" of the first trimester is (hopefully) a memory, and the heaviness of the third trimester is yet to come. Now is a good time to do something special together like taking a vacation or a weekend away (check with your caregiver fist about travel). If you can't get away, use the time to grow closer and spend quality time together.
Some parents have no problem agreeing on a name for their baby. Other parents go through World War III. Here are a few ideas...make a list of ten of your favorite names (if you don't know your baby's gender, make a list of boys' names and a list of girls' names). Have mom do the same thing and then exchange lists. Cross off the names on her list that you absolutely hate while mom crosses off her least favorite names on your list. If any names survive the process, start playing which those in various configurations. This may be one of those areas where compromise is a gift.
Do something nice and totally unexpected like doing the laundry without being asked or bringing home dinner after work. Let mom know how special she is and show her how special you are.
Take lots of pictures of Mom. Even though she may not like it at the, she will treasure the photos later; they will make a wonderful keepsake.
When the body fails to produce enough insulin or produces too much glucose, the level of sugar in the blood becomes too high, which can be dangerous for you and your baby. Gestational Diabetes is a type of diabetes that only occurs in pregnancy and usually subsides afterwards. Your urine will be tested at every visit and you may take a Glucose Tolerance Test. This simple and safe test requires only that you drink a sugar cola and have a blood sample checked 1 hour later.
High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy
Fewer than 10% of pregnant women develop high blood pressure, also known as Toxemia or Preeclampsia. When changes of blood pressure are detected and treated early, the mother and the baby can avoid serious problems. A sudden weight gain or swelling of the face and hands can indirectly signal a problem. Headaches, visual disturbances, or pain in the upper abdomen may indicate a more serious blood pressure problem. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your healthcare provider immediately.
Those discolored zigzagging lines that no woman wants to see on her body can be expected right along with pregnancy. Stretch marks may show up on breasts, buttocks, lower abdomen and other areas of the body as well. Moisturizing creams probably will not help because stretch marks are caused by the breakdown of elastic tissue right below the skin's surface due to excessive weight gain. The good news is that stretch marks usually fade and become less noticeable after pregnancy.
Time to Start Getting Ready!
There are a number of educational courses to prepare couples for pregnancy and the eventual delivery of their newborn. Mothers who take these classes report they need less pain medicine and anesthesia during labor and have had more positive feelings about their birth experience. Expectant fathers are more helpful during labor when they have attended these childbirth classes. You should learn as much as possible about the process of giving birth.
Baby Shopping List
- Baby Recliner/Carrier
- Cleaning Soaps for Gentle Skin
- Disposable Diapers
- Baby Thermometer
- Oil, Lotion, Soap and Vaseline
- Rattles and Playthings
- Portable Crib
- Diaper Bucket and Bag
- Infant Car Seat
- Baby Towels and Wash Cloths
- Bottles and Formula (If Not Breastfeeding)
- Bottle Warmer
- Changing Table
- Front Carrier
- Outer Clothing
- Cotton Swabs
From 7 to 9 months, you'll gain the most weight and your baby is growing incredibly fast.
The baby is up to 14 inches long by now and weighs 2 to 2 1/2 pounds.
Your baby kicks, stretches and responds to sound.
The eyelids and nostrils have opened and the baby is able to perceive light, smell and taste.
The lungs form tiny air sacs called alveoli and the baby begins to make primitive breathing movements.
The skin thickens and becomes opaque.
The structures often spin begin to form.
Your baby's hearing continues to develop and the baby may begin to recognize your voice and your partner's.
Ideas for Dad:
Now is a good time to start thinking about your work schedule when your baby arrives. If you want to take a leave, check with your employer about your options. Your company may qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. Most companies still do not pay for maternity. Paternity leave, some do but do not announce that information unless you ask, while other companies have a whole range of benefits. You may have other options available such as working from home, job sharing and/or flexible work schedules. Start your research now and do some soul-searching about how much time off you wish to have.
How is the nursery coming? Not everyone prepares a nursery before the baby arrives. However, if you are planning to have everything ready, now is a good time to start. Paint the nursery (and keep Mom away from the fumes), put the crib together and have fun preparing for this new little family member with Mom. These are a few of the things you can do for your baby while Mom is gestating.
It's 2 am, and you're blissfully dreaming about winning the Indy 500 in record-breaking time. Suddenly, you're awakened by a pregnant woman who is shaking the buttons off your pajamas. You come to your senses (or at least you think you do), sit straight up in bed and ask her if she's sure it's time. "No, of course it's not time. But I HAVE to have some cold mushy McDonald's French fries NOW or I'll just DIE. Hurry PALEEEEEEZE." Nope, it's not labor...its cravings! She's craving weird things, and you just want to sleep. She's insistent and you know there'll be no sleep until you go. What's a dad to do? Sound remotely familiar? Think of this as preparation for being awakened in the middle of the night by the baby - and you won't have to go to McDonald's for him. Try your best to suggest healthy snacks for Mom but realize at this point, your suggestions may not carry a lot of weight. If all else fails, keep your slippers by the front door and your car keys handy!
It's the last trimester! Go out and celebrate with a special date to shop for something for the baby or a few maternity outfits for Mom. Treat Mom to a foot massage. This isn't an easy trimester for Mom. Dad's support can go a long way to make it easier. Stay involved Dad! You're needed more than ever now.
During pregnancy your body produces around 50% more blood and body fluids to meet the needs of the developing baby. Slight swelling becomes a normal part of pregnancy because of this fact. As your baby grows, the pressure of the growing uterus slows the return of blood from your lower limbs back to the heart. This causes fluid to settle in your feet and ankles. If you experience any sudden swelling of your hands or face, especially associated with headaches or blurred vision, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
Varicose veins are caused when the veins in your legs get weak and enlarge with blood. The veins have to work harder to carry blood back up your legs to your heart. Sometimes pregnancy can aggravate this problem. Exercise will help, and it is important that you do not stand for long periods of time without moving. When you sit, try to prop your legs up to make return circulation easier.
Position of Baby
Your baby will assume his position during the next few weeks. Your healthcare provider will feel your abdomen to check how your baby is lying in your uterus, Vertex, head first, is the most common and makes for an easier delivery.
Baby's Secure Ride
Although you may feel like it is safer to hold the baby in your arms, IT IS NOT!
A baby needs a safety car seat from the moment the baby takes their very first ride home from the hospital. It is your responsibility to know the proper installation of our baby's care seat. Take the time to learn to proper installation of the seat, harnesses and buckles and how to position them. Find a child passenger safety seat inspection location in your area. They will provide guidance on proper installation and give you peace of mind.
The fetus is about 17 inches long and weighs around 4 lbs.
The baby's bones and nails are hardening and wrinkles disappear as fat begins depositing under the skin.
Mother's immunity will be transferred to baby to help it fight infection after birth.
The lanugo begins to shed with the downy hair only on its back and shoulders.
Babies born during this month are still premature but have a very good chance of survival.
Many babies are now moving into position. Head fist is the most common and best for delivery.
All vital organs, except the lungs are mature.
Regions of the brain develop significantly.
Baby's skull remains soft and flexible for delivery.
Ideas for Dad:
The decision on how to feed your baby is mostly up to Mom. However, it's very important for Dad to be supportive of the method chosen. Discuss your feelings with Mom and learn together about the pros and cons. Then lend your full support and encouragement for whatever she decides.
It's the third trimester and now, more than ever, Mom needs you. She may complain a lot with the growing discomforts of pregnancy. Listen to her with your undivided attention. Help her relax in the evening by rubbing her back and feet. We've talked about this in previous months but Mom just needs you to be there for her. As simple as this sounds, it can be difficult at times. Remember that doing what you can for Mom is also your first parenting steps for your child.
If you've chosen not to find out which gender your baby is, you may be trying to guess based on Old Wives Tales. Or, your friends and relatives may be telling you what they think your baby is. Some of these theories can be really fun. For example, if Dad is more nervous, a daughter is on the way. If he's more relaxed, it's a boy. If Dad is getting lots of household projects done, a boy is coming. If Dad isn't doing more projects, it's a girl. If Dad gains weight with Mom, it's a boy. If he stays the same weight-wise, it's a girl. So Dad? What's it gonna be?
For many women, the next couple of weeks are a waiting game. Use this time to prepare your baby's nursery and to take care of necessary tasks you may not get to once your baby is born. Take naps, catch up on your reading and spend uninterrupted time with your partner and other children while you can.
You're probably feeling increasingly uncomfortable in the bony part of your pelvis as your baby settles in or "drops." This is when you will find it easier to breathe. Braxton Hicks contractions are likely increasing in strength and frequency, and that's a good thing, since it means your body's gearing up for the big event.
Knowing that you can go any day, you should be watching out for signs of labor: regular contractions, rupture of membranes, digestive disturbances such as diarrhea or nausea, spurts of energy, loss of the mucous plug or a bloody show.
Braxton Hicks Contractions
These contractions are usually irregular and painless, although they can cause some discomfort. They can occur throughout your pregnancy as your abdomen tightens and relaxes practicing for real labor. If they contractions become progressively closer together, last longer and become more painful, notify your healthcare provider so he or she can make certain you are not in early labor.
Pack Your "Goody Bag" for Labor
- Two or More Pillows
- CD player With Your Favorite Music
- Nightgown, Bathrobe and Slippers
- Going-Home Clothes for Mom and Baby
- Cards, Books, Videos to Pass the Time
- Pair of Socks
- Hand Held Massager
- Watch or Clock with Second Hand
- Camera or Video Recorder
- Toiletries for Mom and Partner
- Change of Clothes for Partner
- Lip Balm
- Reading and Writing Material
- Focal Point
- Change for Vending Machines
- Bra and Panties
- Bibs and Diapers and Cribs, Oh My!
If you have any doubts about what you will need, just get together with 3 or 4 mothers. Hours later, you will have a long, long list. Take care of the list while you still feel like getting out and shopping or visiting friends.
It is about time to stop "expecting" and start getting on with the business of birth!
Are you cleaning house for the first time in months? This may be your "nesting instinct" at work. This is a good time to "stock up" on groceries, cook and freeze some meals, and plan for the first few weeks with your new baby.
At full term, the average baby weighs 7 1/2 pounds and measures 20 inches in length.
The fetus settles into a head-down position awaiting birth.
Lungs are now fully mature and ready to function.
Regular fetal sleep patterns develop and will continue after birth.
Your baby adds fat tissue to protect the vital organs and provide warmth.
The vernix, which is a greasy white material that coats the baby's skin, and the lanugo are almost completely gone.
Studies suggest that a full-term baby may be able to distinguish mom's voice from others.
Ideas for Dad:
Mom has probably been working on a birth announcement list. If you haven't helped out and given her a list of those you want to receive an announcement such as relatives, friends and coworkers, now is a good time to get started.
Mom is feeling huge and clumsy now. She may be weepy and vulnerable or extremely moody. Tell her how beautiful she is and what a wonderful mom she'll be. Serve her breakfast in bed and help her feel like the special woman she is.
Dad, there are a few basic you need to know:
Yes, you WILL be nervous about picking up a human being that is slightly larger than a football knowing that it is YOUR child.
You will NOT be asphyxiated when you change Baby's poopy diaper.
Baby's vomit is not toxic waste, and you will NOT die of poisoning when Baby spits up an entire feeding on your new shirt.
Seriously, it is nerve-wracking to hold a squirming baby, especially when their little necks are so floppy. The more you hold and handle your baby, the more comfortable you'll become. You should be able to do whatever Mom does for the baby, except of course, breastfeed. You'll develop a deeper bond with Baby and s/he with you by being involved.
How Do I Know If I'm In Labor?
There is no "bloody show."
Contractions are irregular and not progressively closer together.
Walking, changing activity or positions may relieve or stop the contractions.
There is no change in cervix.
A "bloody show" may be the first sign. It is usually associated with cramp-like pains.
Contractions get stronger, occur more frequently and last longer.
Walking, changing activity or positions doesn't affect intensity or frequency of contractions.
First babies are notoriously slow about being born; therefore, you should plan to monitor your first few contractions in the comfort of your home. You should prepare to leave for the hospital when your membranes rupture or when your contractions are from 5 to 7 minutes apart. Prepare to leave earlier if you live a long distance from the hospital. Keep plenty of gas in the car during the last few weeks, just in case.
Be packed and prepared for the trip to the hospital. Reassure your partner that there is plenty of time - drive carefully!
How To Time Contractions
If you time your contractions and find they are evenly spaced, coming closer and closer together, and to NOT go away if you change position or walk around, then you are possibly experiencing real labor. True labor contractions cause back pain, lower abdominal pain or both.
Frequency - Time from the start of one contraction to the beginning of another
Duration - Time from the start of one contraction to the end of the same contraction
The first stage of labor starts with the onset of labor and is completed when the cervix is completely dilated to 10 centimeters. This stage of labor can take quite a long time, especially with a first baby - commonly 12 to 14 hours.
The second stage of labor starts with the cervix fully dilated and is completed with the delivery of the baby. It is a much shorter stage and can last anywhere from 1 contraction up to 2 hours. In this stage of labor you will be working with your contractions by pushing your baby down the birth canal. You will find an amazing inner strength as you know there is "light at the end of the tunnel."
The third stage of labor begins after the delivery of the infant and is completed with the delivery of the placenta. This usually takes just a few contractions and takes only a few minutes more.
Ideas for Dad:
Remember the Boy Scout motto "Be Prepared"? Unexpected things happen during labor and delivery so try to plan for as many things as possible while keeping in mind that flexibility is important. Try to have al the little details completed beforehand so you can handle the unexpected events. Just what are these little details? How about...
Routes to the hospital mapped out and have more than one route in case a road is blocked for whatever reason
Know where the entrances to the hospital and the parking lots are located
Lists of phone numbers written out - you might forget an important person or even their number when you're excited/nervous, etc.
Roll of change for the pay telephone or a battery charger/electric cord for your cell phone
Mom's hospital bag and whatever you need at the hospital (change of clothes in case you come from work, etc)
Infant car seat in the car ready to go
Arrange for who will care for any older children if they aren't attending the birth
Have the camera, video recorder, etc in the car
Yikes! All of those last minute details! With these out of the way, dad, you can be there for mom so take the initiative and be a good boy scout. Be prepared!
You catch a glimpse of Mom's profile and see that big belly...and you feel instantly guilty. She's tired, cranky, sick of pregnancy, can't sleep because she has to get up every 30 minutes to go to the bathroom, has chronic heartburn and indigestion, and her mood is reflective of these late-pregnancy discomforts. You feel responsible, and you know what? You ARE responsible! But let's think about that for a minute. Mom can't conceive without Dad, and Dad can't without Mom. That makes pregnancy a team effort. It's true that you don't have to go through the physical discomforts of pregnancy, but you do have your share of worries and a myriad of conflicting thoughts ~ and you have to watch someone you love change before your very eyes. What's a Dad to do? Just be there for Mom. It's a big job, and you're the best one to do it! You can't bear the brunt of pregnancy physically, but you can help Mom lighten the load considerably.
Congratulate yourself Dad! You're almost a father (or father again), and you've survived (almost) the pregnancy. You're probably a nervous wreck or in denial that anything is about to happen, but that's okay. In a few days (weeks), you won't remember what you had for breakfast (or even IF you had breakfast) let alone the anxiety you're having right now. Enjoy these last moments with mom as a couple or as a family of 3 (or 4, whatever your situation is) and pat yourself on the back for being a great dad.
This is it Dad! Try to get some sleep in the last few days because you're going to need it before you officially join the ranks of the sleep-deprived. If Mom is overdue, every day can seem like an eternity. Every twinge is scrutinized in the hopes of "it" being the real thing. Hang in there Dad! No pregnancy last forever! And congratulations! You've made it and have been a wonderful support for Mom!
Congratulations You're a Mom!
Caring for Yourself
The weeks following the birth of your baby are important ones as your body returns to normal after labor and delivery. Knowing what to expect and relying on continuing support of your healthcare team will help you relax through the postpartum experience with as much confidence and comfort as possible.
In the 4 to 6 weeks following delivery, the changes of pregnancy are gradually reversed as the body begins to return to its non-pregnant state. the discharge from the birth canal after delivery is called lochia. During the immediate few days after the birth, lochia is like a menstrual flow. In 3 to 4 days, it then becomes more watery and pale. By the second week, lochia is thicker and more yellow in color. Finally, after 4 weeks, there will only be a small amount as the lining of the uterus heals.
The vagina gradually returns to its previous condition by the end of the third week. The supporting structures and muscles of the pelvic floor may not completely return to normal for 6 to 7 weeks. an episiotomy usually requires 4 or more weeks to heal. Most women will experience their first period within 7 to 9 weeks. Nursing mothers frequently resume menstrual periods by 12 weeks, others not until they have completed breastfeeding.
Hormones, medications, dehydration, perineal pain and decreased physical activity may make bowel function sluggish after delivery. Temporary constipation is not harmful, although it can cause a feeling of fullness and "gas."
Shaken Baby Syndrome
As a parent of a new baby, there may be times when you will become frustrated and maybe even angry when your baby cries. When you feel as if you cannot deal with your baby's crying and have met the baby's basic needs then stop, think and reach for help. DO NOT SHAKE YOUR BABY!
Shaken Baby Syndrome ir SBS is when a baby is "shaken" forcefully.The movement of the baby's head back and forth can cause bleeding and increased pressure on the brain. This can cause death or irreversible brain damage.
Here is a list of things to do if you become frustrated:
- Take a breath.
- Close your eyes and count to 10.
- Put the baby down in their crib and leave for a few minutes.
- As a friend, neighbor or family member to take over.
- Give yourself a "time out."
- Do not pick the baby up until you feel calm.
- If you feel he is ill, call your healthcare provider right away or take him to the hospital.
Infant Sleeping Positions
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden death of an infant under one year of age, which remains unexplained after a thorough investigation. One of the best ways to reduce the risk of SIDS is to place healthy infants on their backs when putting them down to sleep at nighttime or nap time. Provide supervised "tummy time" during awake periods to promote shoulder and muscle development.
- Easily digested
- Perfectly matched nutrition
- Filled with antibodies that protect against infection
- Best start for mother and baby
- Helpful with the process of the uterus returning to is normal size
For Both Baby and Mother
- A beautiful and intimate way a mother can bond with baby
- Contributes to a very special and loving relationship
Home Safety Checklist
Take the time to review this list and plan to have these things done.
You should have at least 2 working smoke detectors on each floor of the house.
Have a working fire extinguisher, especially in the kitchen.
Have cover plates for all electric switches and outlets. Keep all electric cords out of your child's reach.
Secure cabinet doors with latches. Keep medicines, cleaning supplies and any other dangerous substances up and away from little hands.
Place screens or safety rails on fireplaces.
To prevent choking, do not allow any small items in your baby's play or sleeping area.
Never leave your child unsupervised in or around ANY body of water.
Keep all buckets up and out of the way to prevent drowning. Keep toilet seats down and bathroom doors closed. Always fence or cover pool areas with childproof equipment.
Baby's Warning Signs
If the following symptoms of illness occur, a call to your baby's healthcare professional is in order:
- Blue lip color is a 911 call!
- Blue or paled skin.
- Yellow skin or eyes.
- Patches of white found in baby's mouth.
- Eating poorly or refuses to eat.
- No stool for 48 hours and fewer than 6 wet diapers a day.
- Redness, drainage or foul odor from the umbilical cord.
- Does not urinate within 6 to 8 hours of circumcision.
- Fever of 100F or more.
- Difficulty breathing.
- If the baby has a congested cough, running eyes or nose.
- Repeated vomiting or several refused feedings in a row.
- Crying excessively with no known cause.
- An unusual or severe rash (other than prickly heat).
- Frequent or successive bowel movements with excess fluid, mucous or foul odor.
The thought of having to do CPR on your baby is very frightening. However, there is nothing worse than not knowing what to do in case of such an emergency. It is highly recommended that you take and Infant CPR class. It is usually offered as part of your childbirth education class, but if it is not, you can call your local American Heart Association, American Red Cross or go online to find a schedule of classes close to you.