Week 40: Three, two, one... BLAST OFF?!
Fetal development in pregnancy week 40:fetus in ninth month This is it. If you haven’t already gone into delivery, we’ve officially arrived at that time where all you’re doing is trying to patiently play the oh-so-maddening waiting game. Your long-awaited miracle is undoubtedly just as impatient as you to get things moving along. You can generally expect a head-first delivery unless your healthcare provider is unable to coax them out of breech position, in which case their feet come first. After nine months of waiting and even after your wonder-baby is finally out, your doctor or midwife will probably make you wait another five minutes while they give your child an Apgar score (see below); suction any fluids or mucous that may be blocking their newly exposed airways; and clean the remaining vernix and blood from their little body. After all the waiting, you’ll finally get to hold your exhausted little love-bug. Just a heads up: it’s fairly common for newborns to have a bit of chapping or even red rashes on their skin. Gerber babies don’t just pop out sparkly clean and smooth from the womb.
It’ll come whether you’re ready or not, so grab your bag, call the doc, get a hold of the grandfolks-to-be and get ready to execute your much-rehearsed plan of action. PLEASE DO NOT put the pedal to the metal. Labor typically last 13 hours (8 hours for mothers who have delivered once already), and getting to the birth center 10 minutes earlier isn’t likely to make a big difference. Try to keep a level head and drive safely: there’s a lot at stake.
And how's mom doing? Phase I (Early Labor): If this is your first birth, you’ll finally understand just how fake Braxton-Hick contractions really are. Real labor contractions are going to be notably more intense, more painful, and come in waves of 3-4 every ten minutes--each one lasting up to 60 seconds. That For you anxious impatient types, try to avoid the stopwatch tedium of recording every contraction and do something more entertaining like watch SNL reruns said, at the beginning of early labor you’re best bet is to ride the contractions out in the comfort of your home. Realistically speaking, the contractions won’t be so frequent or painful that you won’t be able to putter around the house, watch a movie, or even take a warm bath to relax for the upcoming birth. Early labor can last up to eight hours for a first birth. As we’ve mentioned before, the amniotic sac may naturally break at this point. If this happens, go ahead and get your stuff together and head to the birth center even if your contractions haven’t started. If your water doesn’t break on its own, you can head to the birth center when your contractions are occurring every five minutes for over an hour (at this point they can last up to 90 seconds apiece Wooee!). For you anxious impatient types, try to avoid the stopwatch tedium of recording every contraction and do something more entertaining like watch SNL reruns on Comedy Central. Between Chris Farley and David Spade, you might want to check your rate periodically to see if it’s increased overall, and then get your stuff and head to the birth center to try and catch the next round of SNL reruns.
Phase II (Active Labor): When the cervix is dilated to 10 cm, your baby is usually descended somewhat into your pelvis and may be accompanied by feelings of rectal pressure similar to the feeling you have before a bowel movement. At this point it’s not unusual to feel nauseous (even to the point of vomiting), although many women don’t. On the other hand, there are plenty of cases where the mother is fully dilated but the baby won’t descend until much later in the labor-process. Although the typical course of action is bearing down (when the baby has descended) and pushing through the contractions to move your child through the birth canal, your uterus is also slowly pushing your baby downwards, so take it slowly and don’t strain too much. If it is your first birth, your baby will probably descend more slowly. It is still quite common to coach the mother to push and bear down as much as possible during this time, but there is no reason to believe that this is necessarily a better approach than waiting until you feel the spontaneous urge to bear down, which will happen eventually. Still, keep in mind: if you opt for an epidural, the loss of pelvic sensation will prohibit this option and instead require that you receive explicit coaching during the pushing process.
Phase III (Expelling the placenta): Within a half hour (but usually only a few minutes) after delivery, the placenta (also known as “afterbirth”) will also find its way out of your body. Expelling the entire afterbirth is important because any remaining pieces can cause bleeding and infection later on (early breastfeeding actually promotes complete afterbirth ejection).
At this point, the audience jumps to its feet in a resounding standing ovation. BRAVO!!! Encore? You know what? We’re going to let this baby and momma sleep a bit. It’s been a long journey and really, it’s only just the beginning of another even more incredible journey which we all call “life.” Maybe another year from now when all the pregnancy memories are faded and eclipsed by all the adorable happy baby moments, mom will shrug her shoulders and say it’s time for another, maybe….