Surviving Your Last Week of Pregnancy
| September 3, 2012
For many women, the last few weeks of pregnancy are when reality finally hits. Yes, you are actually having a baby! The nine months of enduring unpleasant symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, backaches, and food cravings are nearly over and soon your baby will be in your arms. It is absolutely natural to feel totally overwhelmed and unprepared as your due date approaches but just take it one day at a time and enjoy these last few days of your pregnancy.
During the last week of pregnancy you may notice the following changes:
- You will not gain much more weight. By now the baby's weight has stabilized and your body is preparing itself for labor. However, the baby's size and position may make it hard for you to feel comfortable.
- Some women feel what is known as 'lightening.' This is when the baby drops lower into your pelvis as you near your due date. This could cause a heavy feeling in your pelvis and make walking a little difficult.
- The frequency of Braxton Hicks contractions may increase and become more intense.
- You may pass a plug of mucus and blood as the cervix opens up for childbirth. Vaginal discharge may also increase.
- Your water may break just before labor or even a few days before. This could happen in the form of a large gush of water or some unnoticeable trickles over a period of time.
- Your nipples may start leaking colostrum that will nourish your baby when he starts breastfeeding.
- As the joints in your pelvis begin to loosen for childbirth, your back may ache more than usual. Apply a hot or cold pack to the area for comfort.
- Symptoms such as shortness of breath and heartburn may continue until you go into labor.
- During the last week of pregnancy, your mood swings may be more severe. This is normal and to be expected considering the life-changing event about to take place.
Care during your last week of pregnancy:
- If you suddenly develop swelling in your ankles, feet, hands or face, inform your doctor immediately as these are signs of hypertension that could be dangerous during childbirth.
- Try and relax during this last home stretch of your pregnancy. Swimming is a great exercise and helps soothe your nerves and reduce aches and pains.
- Ensure that you are still taking your folic acid, calcium and iron supplements as prescribed by your doctor.
- You will have to take certain antenatal blood tests to rule out the presence of any bacterial infection in your lower genital tract. A urinary or vaginal infection in the last weeks of pregnancy may infect placental tissues or lead to preterm labor. The infection may even pass on to the baby during delivery and should therefore be treated immediately.
Things to do during your last week of pregnancy:
- Read up on breastfeeding in preparation for your baby's arrival. Prenatal counseling is normally available at your hospital or clinic if you have any doubts or worries.
- If your baby is in a breech or transverse position, discuss delivery options with your doctor.
- If you are working until you deliver, try and take things easy. Have a contingency plan in place in case you do go into labor at work.
- Pack your bags for the hospital along with your labor kit and baby essentials.
- Stock your freezer with meals and snacks for after your return from hospital.
Finally… make the most of these last few days of 'me' time before your little bundle of joy arrives. Enjoy!
Pregnancy and Baby Care Questions