Did You Know After Seven Months, Your Baby…
- is about 18 inches long and weighs more than three pounds?
- has fully matured lungs?
- can reach the REM sleep level, meaning he or she can dream?
- is able to perceive signals from all five senses?
You are quickly approaching the finish line of your pregnancy! Let's briefly discuss some things to think about leading up to your delivery, the stages of labor and delivery, and the next steps after the delivery.
If you haven't already, this is the time you should begin touring hospitals or birthing centers in preparation of your labor and delivery. Whether you choose to deliver in a hospital or birthing center, most are happy to offer tours of their facilities and will most likely offer child birthing and/or parenting classes as well.
Talk to your doctor about whether giving birth in a hospital or birthing center makes the most sense for your pregnancy.
Labor symptoms vary greatly among pregnant women. Some women have very profound labor symptoms, while others go about their daily lives without much of a change. The following are only examples and are not representative of all women, so be sure to contact your doctor if you believe you are going into labor.
False Labor Symptoms
- During your ninth month of pregnancy, it is very common and expected for women to falsely believe they are going into labor based on symptoms they are experiencing, sometimes referred to as Braxton Hicks. These false labor symptoms include irregular contractions that don't increase in intensity, contractions that get better by changing your body position, and increased vaginal discharge that is brownish rather than bloody.
Actual Labor Symptoms
- It is time to get to the hospital as fast as possible once you begin feeling contractions that are increasing in intensity and regularity and are not subdued by a change in body positions. Your water may break as well, but it is more likely to break once you are lying on the hospital bed.
Also keep an eye out for the loss of your mucous plug, which has plugged your cervix up to this point, and for the "bloody show", which is an indication that the blood vessels in your cervix have ruptured and are preparing for labor.
Stages of Child Birth
Early Labor Phase (3 cm dilated)
- As the big day approaches, you will experience what is known as "pre-labor," when you may notice more pressure in your pelvis, mild contractions, a dramatic decrease in energy and an increase in vaginal discharge, which is often bloody. Once you begin noticing these symptoms, get ready because the baby should be on his or her way anywhere with the next few hours to several days.
Active Labor Phase (7 cm dilated)
- This stage is when you are officially "going into labor," and it is time to get to the hospital or birthing center. You will know you are in labor when your contractions become more intense and are 40 to 60 seconds long with just 3 to 4 minutes between contractions. The active labor stage lasts between 3 to 5 hours.
Transitional Phase (10 cm/fully dilated)
- The transition stage is when you will experience the most intense contractions, typically lasting 60 to 90 seconds long with just a couple of minutes in between contractions. However, thankfully this is the shortest stage lasting between 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Delivery of the Baby
- Up to this point, everything about your labor has been accomplished involuntarily by your cervix and uterus, and now it is up to you to begin the "final push." You will want to focus all of your energy on rhythmic pushing coached by your doctor and partner, and do not feel embarrassed if and when bowel movements occur during delivery. Just keep pushing!
Delivery of the Placenta
- With your baby born, the labor and delivery stage is complete other than the delivery of the placenta. Your contractions will likely be mild during this stage, and the placenta should be delivered within 20 minutes.
* Please remember these are general guidelines and may not accurately represent your labor and delivery.
Sometimes your body will not allow you to deliver naturally. For the safety of you and your baby, your doctor may recommend a Cesarean delivery, or C-Section, where your baby and placenta will be delivered surgically.
Talk to your doctor for more information about C-Sections and whether you are a candidate to deliver surgically.
Once your baby is delivered, there are still many things to keep in mind:
First, you will want to select a pediatrician for your child. Be sure to find a pediatrician with a good reputation (perhaps by recommendation from a friend or family member), and one within close distance to your home. Also, make sure the pediatrician accepts any insurance you have before making an appointment.
Secondly, consider enrolling in a parenting class. Parenting classes are a great way to learn the fundamentals of parenting and to talk with other women and couples in your same position. Often time these classes will often be offered by the hospital or birthing center in which you delivered your baby. Be sure to ask if they offer these classes when you tour the facility.
Finally, congratulations on the birth of your beautiful baby!