Your baby is now about 18.1 inches (46 cm) long in total and weighs about 6.1 pounds (2.79 kg) at the start of the week —and about 6.5 pounds (2.97 kg) at the end of the week.
Your baby is preparing for life outside the uterus by, for example, sucking her thumb. The suckling reflex is important so that the baby can breastfeed later.
Remember that as a mother-to-be, you should still be feeling your baby move every day. If not, contact your health care provider at any time, day or night. Continue to do fetal-movement counts daily. The baby should generally move at least once or twice every few hours. However, once a day, mostly during afternoon, your baby should be active enough to move ten times in two hours.
Most babies get into position for birth at around this time, moving their heads down into the pelvis. 3 to 4 % of all babies end up with their bottoms or feet projecting down into the pelvis. This is called a breech/footling presentation. An attempt may be made to persuade the baby to turn to a normal position. This process is known as external cephalic version.
Are you feeling the tension rising and expectations increasing as you approach childbirth? Pack your bag with the things you want to take with you to the hospital or birth center. You’ll find ideas on what to pack in the checklist under Tools in the app. Why not make a trial-run to the hospital or birth center. Find out where the entrance and parking lot is. Or you may have already decided that the easiest option is to take a taxi. Now is also a good time to think about who will stay with your older children when your contractions begin. Have a plan A and a plan B since you never know exactly when they will start.
At your prenatal visit, your midwife or doctor will review your pregnancy with you, talk about your thoughts and preferences ahead of childbirth, and review your birth plan if you have one. All of this will be recorded in your prenatal records.
Colostrum is the first milk that your breasts produce, and it’s rich in nutrients and antibodies. You may remember from last time that it is yellowish and that your baby needs to suckle often to access the small quantities. Your actual breastmilk, also called mature breast milk, will start to flow two to three days after childbirth, stimulated by your baby actively suckling at your breast. Your mature breast milk typically starts to flow more quickly than the first time. It’s as if your body remembers what is expected of it. Your baby wants and needs to suckle frequently (at least every third hour) the first days. You could say that your baby places an order—how much milk you produce is a question of demand and supply. If your breastfeeding experience was positive, then you’ll feel secure. If your experience was less favorable, and you want to breastfeed this time, make sure you ask for help before you leave the hospital so you feel as prepared as possible before you get home.
Specially adapted to the needs of a newborn, breast milk is easily digested, protects against infections and strengthens your baby’s immune system. When the mature breast milk starts to flow, we recommend breastfeeding on your baby’s signal. This will ensure that your baby gets as much food as he or she needs. Breastfeeding is more than food; it is also closeness, security and comfort.
In the USA, we follow both the WHO’s and The American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of breastfeeding exclusively for six months and then partial breastfeeding until the child is one year or older. We have created the Breastfeeding Guide together with midwife and breastfeeding specialist Elisabeth Hjärtmyr to help you prepare in the best possible way. You can find it under Articles & Tools.
If you had a complicated breastfeeding experience before, there is no reason to assume that it will be as difficult this time. All babies are different, and this is most definitely a joint effort between the two of you. It may go very smoothly with this baby. If you choose not to breastfeed, or feel that it’s too complicated, remember to keep your baby close during bottle feeding—ideally skin to skin. Both you and your baby will benefit.
There’s a lot of guilt on the topic of breastfeeding. Be gentle with yourself if it didn’t work out as you hoped, and remember that the most important thing is that your baby gets food, lots of love and closeness. The ability to be a loving, present mother does not come from your breasts and your ability to breastfeed.
If you have already decided that you do not want to breastfeed, a note of this will be made in your journal if you have told your midwife of your decision at one of your appointments. If not, do it now. It’s a good idea to bring a really tight sports bra to the birth center or hospital to put on as soon as your baby is born to prevent the production of milk. Occasionally, medication is administered to prevent milk production.