37 Weeks: The Final Stretch…
The Home stretch… how exciting! Hopefully you have been able to rest well and have everything you think you may need ready, or close to being ready. Your body will also be doing the same.
Engagement: Your baby will have engaged if you are a first time mama, and you may be feeling a sudden lightness with your breathing. This means your baby has “dropped”, and firmly engaged into your pelvis. This will be accompanied by feelings of pressure on the coccyx and lower back and an increased frequency for the toilet (for both!).
You should still be feeling baby move just as much as before, they may just feel less like baby is stretching, as there is much less room now!
Contractions: Irregular and sometimes painful tightening of your uterus may start as the hormones in your body start to surge, getting you ready for labour. There is no right time to go into hospital, as everyone is different but generally when you feel the contractions becomes strong, and forms a pattern, you can start the process of going in.
Vaginal discharge: Your vaginal discharge may be getting heavier and some women may pass a “muscousy plug” from 37 weeks onwards. This thick mucous, jelly textured discharge is a sign that your cervix is starting to think about labour. It is not at all a sign to go into hospital on its own, as women can pass this weeks before their delivery.
Your waters breaking may not be a large gush like you expect, it may be a slow trickle of water throughout the day, but once your water break, it will not stop, so any watery like fluid leaked should be checked by your Doctor. You will continue to drain water till you deliver. If you notice and blood in the water if that baby has passed meconium ( its first poop- a green colour) then you should get to your hospital as soon as you can, to allow your Doctor to check on you.
Your breasts: Your breasts may show signs of being heavier and some women even may have some colostrum leaking after a hot shower. If you don’t have this, don’t worry that you will not have milk for your baby, you’re:milk supply will kick in after delivery.
Your support system: Ensure your husband is also ready for the event and you have spoken of the planned trip to hospital, should he not be home. Ensure he is prepared to support you and understands that labour may be a long process.
As exciting as it is, try not to phone everyone to tell them you are in labour. Family will sit on the other end of the phone waiting for your news, which may be hours away, or if they live close by, may all want to arrive in the delivery room. Delivery rooms have strict policies on visitors so unfortunately, they will be left to wait in the corridors.
Work with your Midwives and Doctors to get all the support you need in your labour and delivery. Allow them to understand your wishes and also be guided by their expertise.
Your life as you know it, is about to change forever and you are about to be a part of one of the most amazing things on this planet. Congratulations on your journey!
Mama to be Says…
For the past 2 weeks I have been caught between a mental frenzy of “so much to do, (so much to get!) so little time”, and a stillness and calm of…”oh well what does a baby really need except me?”. Both are clearly extreme ends of the spectrum and the reality, I’m sure, sits somewhere in the middle.
I have seen woman come in with 3 suitcases into the delivery suit, ready for what they must consider every possible case scenario… and I have seen women walk in ready to deliver, with only the clothes on their back and a stick of chewing gum (Okay, that might have been a scene from Macgyver, but you get the point).
And the reality is, in the end, when you embark on the process of labour, delivery and taking this baby home, what you really need is solid support, self-belief and a willingness to give into the process, and let go of your control.
By that I certainly do not mean that your choices and preferences for your family should not be heard and respected, by that I mean that we cannot underestimate the power of all the other “factors” we never considered, that the books never printed, that your friends never told you about.
Why? Because your journey is just that, it is yours. Your body, your pregnancy, your delivery, your baby, your feeding style: your family.
It hasn’t been written about, it can’t be predicted and should not be compared to anything. It is as unique as the finger prints on those new little wrinkly hands that you are about to hold.
So if you are caught in that “frenzy” moment like I was, take a minute, stop google-ing, stop fretting, and just breathe. Enjoy these last weeks of your baby being all yours, enjoy those last kicks inside and soak up the last bit of rest and pampering you might be lucky enough to be getting!
As I enter the home stretch, I feel my Midwife brain receding to allow my Mama’s intuition to come forward. It leaves me feeling nervous, scared, excited, apprehensive and blessed. And for now, I’ve decided this is an okay place to be.
Good luck mamas, see you on the other side!