Where’s the vacuum and mop?
Your physical changes this week
If your baby has engaged in your pelvis, your body shape will change and people may comment on the fact that you "have dropped". Although this means you can breathe a little easier, the extra pressure on your bladder is impossible to ignore. Your relationship with the toilet may be the closest one you have this week. Have trust that things are close to improving.
If you have a sudden gush of fluid from your vagina, a series of regular, painful uterine contractions which are coming approximately every 15 minutes, or a steady, continuous pain in your lower back, check with your pregnancy care provider. These can all be symptoms of true, early labor.
You will be feeling very heavy and congested in your pelvis this week. If you've had a baby before it can feel as if there really isn’t much holding the baby in, especially when you are standing. Your pelvic muscles are working overtime in supporting the concentrated weight of your uterus and like an overstretched sling, they are sagging at the critical points. Do them a favor and sit when you can. Find a comfortable chair and set yourself up with a drink, a good book and your phone by your side. You don’t need to explain yourself to anyone when you are 40 weeks pregnant, this is a waiting game.
The skin over your belly is stretched taut and tight like a drum. Your belly button looks as if it's been turned inside out, and your stretch marks look vivid. You’ll find it hard to imagine your belly could stretch any more but if you go past term, chances are it will have to. If you wrap your hands around, underneath your tummy, your fingers may not even touch.
Your emotional changes this week
You will be feeling a mixture of anticipation and excitement, anxiety, and impatience. This is a week full of emotion and it can be made worse by feeling as if you don’t have much control over what happens. If you are worried about how you will respond with the pain of childbirth, read everything you can about pain relief options. Speak with your pregnancy care provider about what you would like to have happen and include this on your birth plan.
Your baby's changes this week
Your pregnancy care provider will ask you about Baby's movements, how active he is, and if you have noticed any change in the pattern of activity. They may even ask you to keep a record or kick chart which you will need to bring to your prenatal appointments. You may need to have an NST (Non Stress Test), which monitors Baby's heartbeat as well as the muscle activity of your uterus. This will provide important information to your care providers in assessing the well-being of Baby.
Hints for the week
The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.