Tuesday, August 7, 2007


And so, WEEK 37 arrived, by now 37 with 3 days. So far, I've gained only 17 pounds and both my sugar levels and Deirdre are doing well. All efforts have paid off.

(info from www.whattoexpect.com)
BODY: Effacement and Dilation
Only three more weeks to go (can you believe it?). Actually, now that you're 37 weeks, your pregnancy is technically considered full-term — which means you can safely go into labor any day now. The big mystery, of course, is just when labor will actually begin. It's anyone's guess when your baby decides to make his or her appearance (sociably early, or fashionably late — or precisely right on time?), but that doesn't stop your practitioner from taking a shot at it. Unless you specifically request otherwise, most practitioners will perform internal checks of your cervix to assess your readiness for labor. Just what is he or she looking for? First, for dilation, or how far your cervix has opened (it needs to open to ten centimeters for the baby to pass through into the birth canal). Next, for cervical ripeness (making you wonder, perhaps, is this a cervix or a peach?), which is the consistency of the cervix. (It starts out being firm like the tip of your nose and softens to the same texture as the inside of your cheek). Next he or she will check for effacement, or how thin your cervix is (it'll be 100 percent effaced before you push your baby out). The position of your cervix (it moves from the back to the front as labor approaches) will also be assessed, and last but not least, your practitioner will measure the station (or position) of the baby in relation to your pelvis (the lower down your baby is, the closer you are to delivery). Although it all sounds very scientific, it's actually not at all. Having a cervix dilated to three centimeters or being 50 percent effaced is no indication that labor is imminent. You can be very dilated and not have your baby for weeks. Or your cervix can be high and closed during an exam one morning, only to be open and ready for business — and labor — by noon.

BABY: Light at the End of the TunnelWith just three more weeks to go and at about six and a half pounds (though weight and height vary from fetus to fetus), your baby is doing just fine. You can expect weight gain to be about half an ounce per day. (Boys, though, are likely to be heavier at birth than girls. And here's a bit of boy baby trivia to back that one up: Moms carrying boys tend to eat more than moms carrying girls — a foreshadowing of teenage refrigerator raids to come.) Since your little one is considered full-term now, if your baby was to leave the wet nest this week, he or she would likely thrive. That's because Mother Nature and you have done such a fine job. So what's keeping your little one busy while waiting it out until D-day? Practice, practice, practice. Your baby is simulating breathing by inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid, sucking on his or her thumb, blinking, and pivoting from side to side (one day you feel the tushy on the left side, another day it has swung around to the right side). All these are skills needed for his or her next gig — starring as newborn. Here's an interesting fact: Your baby's head (which, by the way, is still growing) will, at birth, be the same size circumference as his or her hips, abdomen, and shoulders. And guess what's making an impression (literally) these days on those shoulders and hips: fat — causing little dimples in those cute elbows and knees, shoulders and hip, and creases and folds in the neck and wrists.

EATING: Protein, The Supermodel With SmartsProtein is the cover girl of nutrients these days, getting raves from many successful dieters. Since you know weight-loss diets are downright dangerous for expectant moms and their babies, you need to appreciate protein on a deeper level — for the brain power behind the beauty. While it's not just another pretty face, protein is made up of the amino acids that build your baby's adorable face — and every cell below it. Your baby's brain, in particular, needs these raw materials to transform itself into the wondrous organ that will help your baby breathe, walk, talk, and gleefully flush your car keys down the toilet in the years to come. During pregnancy, you need three servings of protein every day (the equivalent of about 75 grams). Most people have no trouble reaching this goal (especially if they've spent any time on the low-carb bandwagon), although if you're a vegetarian or vegan you may have to work a little harder. Getting your full protein quota is never more important than it is during this final trimester, when your baby's brain is developing fast and furiously — but it's also a great time to focus on protein sources that are extra high in omega-3 fatty acids like DHA (another must-have nutrient when it comes to baby brains — plus, one that's known to lower your risk of postpartum depression). Get your protein from all of these foods, but choose the starred (*) ones for their DHA star power: Lean meat, Grass-fed lean meat*, Poultry, Fish* (fatty fish, like wild salmon, anchovies, and sardines contain the most brain-boosting fatty acids, but all fish have some; see A Fish Tale) to learn which fish you can safely eat when you're expecting), Eggs* (choose DHA eggs for an omega-3 boost), Milk and other dairy products. Vegetarian options include: Beans, Tofu and other soy products (such as edamame and soy pasta), TVP (texturized vegetable protein; check the label for the protein-to-calorie ratio to make sure you're getting the biggest bang for your nutritional buck), Peanuts, peanut butter (check first with your practitioner if you or the baby's father has a history of food allergies), other nuts and seeds* (walnuts* pack the biggest DHA punch), Wheat germ, Whole-grain baked goods, Whole grains; an especially high protein variety is quinoa (pronounced keen-wa). It's also a good idea to chase your protein with an adequate supply of pyridoxine. Never heard of it? It's the vitamin also known as B6, and its job is to help your body — and your baby — use all that protein to do its cell-building job. (Think of it this way: If protein is the brick, B6is the mortar.) And B6 plays an especially big role in the development of the brain and nervous system. Like folic acid, it helps reduce the risk of neural tube defects. You'll find B6 in prenatal vitamins and also in bananas, avocados, wheat germ, brown rice, bran, soybeans, oatmeal, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, watermelon, and meat (see, there's overlap with your protein sources, making your job even easier).

EXTRA: Your Feel-Good Kit
D-day is getting close, so it's time to pack your hospital bag (if you haven't already). Along with necessities, be sure to stash these feel-good items inside: lip balm (your lips will become very dry, even before you start panting), bands or scrunchies to keep your hair back, a brush (tangles are inevitable, plus having someone brush your hair may feel relaxing), massage oil, warm socks and slippers, moisturizer, mints, and a warm robe. They just might make your labor, delivery, and overall stay more comfortable. Remember, don't bring or wear anything you really love (like your favorite pj's or that fancy negligee) — it may get lost or ruined.

EXTRA: A Special Rub
Anxiously waiting for the big day to arrive? Don't just sit there — massage your perineum! (Say what? Trust me, there's good reason for this piece of advice.) Perineal massage may help to gently stretch your perineum (that area of skin between your vagina and rectum), which in turn can minimize the "stinging" that occurs when baby's head crowns during childbirth. It may also help you avoid an episiotomy and tearing. Here's how to massage your way to an easier (and looser, if you're lucky) labor: First make sure your hands (or your spouse's, if he'll be taking on the task) are clean and nails trimmed. Next, lubricate your thumbs or index fingers (here's where the K-Y jelly can come in handy — literally — again) and put them inside your vagina. Press down (toward your rectum) and slide your fingers across the bottom and sides of your perineum. You can do this daily until D-day (and you can even continue the good work — or have your practitioner take over — during labor itself!)…or not at all if it makes you feel uncomfortable.

DAD: Unclutter Your Nest
Funny, that overstuffed closet never bothered you before, but now you just have to organize it. And that cabinet over there really needs clearing out. Not to mention the basement…. Congratulations, your nesting instincts (dads have them, too, throughout the animal kingdom) have kicked in. Don't be surprised to suddenly find the energy (and the enthusiasm) for compulsive cleaning, painting, and organizing. Run (and dust) with it — it's nature's way of assuring that you'll have a comfy, clean nest for your baby when you all come home. Plus, it keeps your mind off your pre-delivery jitters. Your partner may be in nesting overdrive, too, but don't let her overdo it. (Keep her off ladders, okay?) On the other hand, fatigue may be her overriding instinct right now.

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