You're in the home stretch! After nine months of growth and development, your baby is ready to be born, or nearly so. At week 39, your baby is fully developed and anywhere from 17-23 inches long and weighs 6-10 pounds. Don't be frightened if your OB-GYN says your baby is large: It's extremely difficult to judge a baby's weight accurately from the outside.
Your baby is adding neural connections and growing hair and still gaining weight. Researchers have theorized that when babies are ready to be born, they send a chemical signal of androgens to the placenta, which increases the production of estrogen and leads to labor. If so, it's proof of the old saying that "only a baby knows when it's ready to be born."
Don't be surprised if you get discouraged now. Relatives may be calling regularly to find out if labor has started. Ignore them and make plans every day—see a movie, take a walk, read or simply lounge around at home. Relish this peaceful time while it lasts! To get some relief from your weight and aches, do plenty of hands-and-knees cat stretches and pelvic tilts. Soak in a warm bath, swim, or just float in the pool to take a break from gravity.
Do You Dread Delivery?
Many women who whole-heartedly want to be mothers dread the prospect of having to actually deliver a baby. In fact, while just about every woman feels some anxiety about giving birth, 6 percent to 10 percent of pregnant women suffer intense fear. 10 ways to calm your delivery day fears.
Things to think about this week
Many women begin maternity leave weeks before their due date. If you plan to work up until the end, post an "If I go into labor tonight" memo at work. If you'll be returning to work and plan to breastfeed, find or create a suitable place to pump.
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