Your developing baby
Keep reminding yourself ‘the end is in sight’ as your lug yourself around. This week can be particularly tiresome in hot weather. Luckily babies skulls are designed to be soft and pliable in the womb and some bones actually fuse together after your baby is born. This should make it easier for your baby’s head to mould to the shapes of the birth canal and vagina, which in turn will make the birth easier.
Once your baby is born her head will be very delicate and soft bits such as the fontanelle (on the very top of the head) should not be touched or pushed. By 18 months old they should have closed up and become the hard skull your baby will have through life. Your baby is producing large amounts of cortisol so that surfactant (which reduces surface tension in your baby’s lungs) is produced and the transition from breathing in the uterus to breathing once she is born is effortless.
Your developing body
You may have been cleaning your house from top to bottom this week as pregnancy lulls you into what is known as the ‘nesting instinct’. Most females in the animal or bird kingdom experience it too and it is when you start preparing your ‘nest’ for the arrival of your baby. It won’t mean your baby will come tonight, but labour may start in a week or so.
Braxton Hicks contractions will probably be occurring more frequently now as your body prepares for labour. These contractions will also help to drive more blood into the placenta in these last weeks of pregnancy. Most women at this point will start to feel unsure about whether they’ll know they are in labour, or how similar it is to a Braxton Hicks contraction. Read our feature Am I in labour? to prepare yourself.
Although you may be feeling too big to fit any more food inside you, now is a great time to eat well. You should feel fit and healthy (albeit big and tired) when you go into labour and eating well will promote this and help with your energy levels. As well as eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, try to eat a few slices of pineapple as it contains the enzyme bromelain that is thought to help soften the cervix. Tinned or canned pineapples do not count, so make a fresh fruit salad, or treat yourself to a ham and pineapple pizza. Read our feature for more information on how to kick-start labour at home.
As hard as it may be, try to enjoy this stage of pregnancy. Very soon your baby will arrive and your life will be turned upside down (for the better), so now is time for you. Indulge in long baths (if you can get in and out!) and spend time with your partner. It is very easy for dads to get forgotten about once the baby arrives so make sure you have some special time together now. Going to the cinema, something that seems normal, will become a luxury once your baby is born so make the most of going out.