So, I know I promised that I’d stop moving around so much as I run out of space (and grow to the size of an exotic fruit called a durian), but the truth is, as I get bigger, I also minimize the amount of amniotic fluid separating my movements from your body. That means you might be feeling those tiny hands and feet of mine more closely than before. Although I’m getting chubbier by the day, I’ve still got awhile to go. Believe it or not, for all the crazy amounts of growth and weight gain I’ve had so far, I’m actually going to gain half of my birth weight in these final weeks leading up to my arrival.
Speaking of labor, you’ve seen the movies or heard friends talk about their contractions – the tightening of the muscles in your uterus in preparation for my birth. But it’s entirely possible you’ve already started feeling what’s called Braxton Hicks contractions well before my due date. They’ll typically last for about 15 to 30 seconds (although some women have them for up to 2 minutes), and be pretty irregular and painless. Learning to distinguish the difference between these ‘fake’ contractions and real ones is critical. Braxton Hicks contractions should disappear if you get up or shift positions. But if you’re having contractions more frequently and they aren’t disappearing when you move, you might actually be going into preterm labor. Keep an eye out for other preterm labor signs like cramping, a sore back, pelvic pressure, or a change in your vaginal discharge color and texture. If the symptoms are adding up, call your doctor or visit a hospital immediately so they can provide you (and me) with the medical attention we need.
We’re less than two months away from being united outside of your belly – but with preterm labor a more realistic scenario the further along we got, the more important it is that you’re prepared. Consider packing an overnight bag filled with the essentials and creature comforts you’ll want with you at the hospital once I arrive. If something comes up – false alarm or otherwise – you’ll be able to grab your bag and go without worrying about missing something critical during what’s usually a pretty frantic time. Most moms will bring a change of clothes, basic toiletries, and possibly some special keepsakes or gifts to share with me. You’ll also want to pack some sanitary pads, as your body will be flushing out ‘lochia’, the blood and mucus it no longer needs after I’m born. You can expect this bleeding to last heavily for about 10 days, but don’t be surprised to see some spotting for up to 6 weeks after delivery.
Pregnancy is a big deal for even the most prepared woman. Just keep in mind, after I’m born, no one will ever be able to challenge whether you’re strong. “If nature had arranged that husbands and wives should have children alternatively, there would never be more than three in a family.” – Lawrence Housman (Playwright)