I’m not ready to let go yet
Your physical changes this week
Your vaginal discharge will increase now and you could need to wear a liner for extra absorbency. This is completely normal, and unless it is profuse, itchy, smells unusual, or is bothering you, don’t be concerned. There is a lot of pelvic engorgement and hormonal activity occurring now and this is a normal outcome.
You may occasionally get a sharp, almost electrified feeling in your bladder from this week on. It could startle you and cause you to feel as if you are about to wet yourself. As long as you don’t have other urinary symptoms, which could mean a urinary tract infection, don’t be concerned. If this is your first baby, it may be engaging in your pelvis and that bony head isn’t far from your sensitive bladder. Changing positions can help but otherwise, it's just a case of too little room.
Your emotional changes this week
You could be concerned about how you will cope with your labor. Fear of the unknown often makes us imagine the worst and it becomes easy to catastrophize possible outcomes. Most mothers seek reassurance but not always. Keeping fears to yourself can only make them worse so seek some trusted sources to confide in. Your pregnancy care provider is sure to have heard similar concerns many times over.
If you are having a scheduled caesarean delivery, mark the date on your calendar if you haven’t already done so. Plan for a quiet couple of days beforehand so you don’t feel you have rushed through them. The last few weeks of pregnancy are often referred to as a waiting game and even if patience isn't usually one of your attributes, you will save yourself a lot of angst by just letting nature take its course.
It is so important to invest some time into thinking about how you will adjust to becoming a parent and the possible changes in your relationship with your partner. Parenting actually starts in pregnancy, not once the baby is born.
Your baby's changes this week
Your baby doesn’t have much space to move its whole body around now, but will still be able to pivot itself into more comfortable positions. You could find it protests when it's feeling a little compressed. A sharp jab in the ribs or in your pelvis is usually enough of a prompt for pregnant mothers to get up, move around, or even do some pelvic rocking.
Lanugo, that soft downy hair which has been covering your baby's skin, is being reabsorbed this week. Much of it will end up in your baby's gut and will be included along with other waste products in its meconium, the first bowel motion. Vernix, the white greasy coating on its skin, will also be reabsorbed.
Hints for the week
Read up on information about childbirth and how to have an active labor and birth. Informed mothers and their partners feel less like observers in their child's birth and more like participants. If you are having a home birth, speak with your provider about what you’ll need in terms of practicalities. Plastic sheeting, bed linen which isn’t so precious it has to be kept, and a warm safe crib or bassinet for the baby are essentials. Make a list of emergency numbers and place them by the phone in case they are needed.
Pack your bag if you are going to hospital. Don’t forget to include toiletries, clothing for yourself and the baby, diapers, any medication you need, your health insurance card, lists of contact numbers for family and friends and most importantly: your own pillow! Remember, you don’t need to pack like you're going on a Caribbean cruise. So if you forget something, your partner can always bring it to you.
Week 38 comes next.
For more information see Pregnancy Week by Week.
The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.