Women who are still carrying at 38 weeks and beyond deserve a medal, or at the very least, a foot massage. At this point, your baby is nearing 7 pounds and has organs mature enough to support her in the outside world.
Tip of the week:
If you experience a sudden urge to organize your house, especially your baby's nursery, this is called nesting, and it's sometimes a sign that labor is near. Use this opportunity to tie up any loose ends, from organizing baby's closet to finalizing your birth plan. Nesting can be a great way to use your time as you wait out your final days of pregnancy, but remember to take it easy and not overexert yourself.
Pregnancy at full term is no picnic for her, either. She's pretty crowded in there, which is why you feel her move around less often the further into pregnancy you are. While both mom and baby are ready for delivery day, it's pretty much a waiting game from here on out.
Being well educated on the signs of labor may help ease your mind in the meantime, because it will help you know when it's just a false alarm and when it's time to head to the hospital.
One of the first signs that your baby is on her way is the loss of the mucous plug that seals the cervix to keep pathogens from getting into your uterus, also known as bloody show. This protective substance will shed once your cervix starts to thin and open in preparation for birth. When it exits, it will appear as either stringy mucous or thick discharge, and will be brownish or blood-tinged. You may not notice it, and, if you do see it, don't get too excited because baby may still be weeks away.
Think of the bloody show as a precursor to your water breaking, which is something that won't go unnoticed. This occurs when the amniotic sac breaks and leaks its fluids, a sure sign that labor is nigh. It may come out in a trickle or a gush.
Contact your health care provider if you suspect your water has broken. He or she can determine whether the fluid is amniotic fluid, urine or something else. If your amniotic sac has leaked or broken, your health care provider will determine the next steps. Your risk of infection goes up when the sac is not intact, so your health care provider may induce labor if you don't go into labor soon after your water breaks.
Of course, the ultimate sign of labor is experiencing contractions. True labor contractions get progressively intense and occur at regular intervals, while Braxton Hicks contractions tend to be more erratic. Call your health care provider if you're not sure which it is. And, if it is contractions, get ready to head to your birthing center.