Pregnancy Week 40
Congratulations! You will probably be welcoming your baby this week. Here is what you can expect as you go into labor.
When pushing during labor, your baby’s head will begin to appear through your vaginal opening with each contraction. When your baby’s head remains visible and does not slip back in, it is known as crowning.
As your baby’s head crowns and stretches the vaginal opening, you will experience a burning or stinging sensation, often referred to as the ring of fire. As soon as you feel this, stop pushing!
If you continue to push and bear down, you increase your risk of tearing or needing an episiotomy.
The burning or stinging sensation only lasts for a short time and is followed by a numb feeling. This is due to your baby’s head stretching your vaginal tissue so thin that the nerves are blocked, resulting in a natural anesthetic.
- Lean back and try to go limp.
- Make a conscious effort to relax the muscles of the perineal floor (the layers of muscles and tissue between the vagina and rectum).
- Focus your energy on deep breathing techniques.
- Allow your contractions to do the work for you during this time.
Your baby should be between 19 and 21 inches (48.3 to 53.3 cm) long and weigh anywhere from 6 ¾ to 10 pounds (3 to 4.5 kg).
Your baby’s bones have become hard, with the exception of the skull. The bones in the skull need to remain soft and pliable for delivery so they can overlap as they pass through the birth canal.
Because a newborn’s skull is designed this way, your baby’s head may have a cone appearance for the first several days of life.
Your baby will actually have two soft spots, or fontanelles, on her head which allow for an easier delivery. The front fontanelle will become hard between the eighth and fifteenth month of life.
The back fontanelle becomes hard between the third and fourth month.
During your last prenatal visit be prepared for the following tests:
Your healthcare provider will discuss the following possibilities:
Immediately after delivery, your baby will be given her first test, the APGAR. Put away the flash cards, and don’t expect too much too early; rarely does any baby get a perfect score on this test.
Although it is your child’s first assessment, it is not a predictor of future behavior or intellect.
The APGAR is a quick assessment of overall newborn well-being. The scores are recorded at one minute and five minutes of life. At one minute, scores between seven and ten indicate that your baby will only need routine post-delivery care.
At five minutes, a score of seven to ten is normal.
You and your partner may hear of a wide variety of techniques to help induce labor at home. While it may be tempting to try one of these, it is important that you discuss these wives’ tales with your partner’s healthcare provider before utilizing them.
Most of these techniques have not proven to be consistently effective, and some are not safe.
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