Gearing Up for the Big Event
Since baby's timetable is somewhat unpredictable, start getting your affairs in order at the beginning of this month. Cover all personal, professional, and family bases to ensure a smooth transition from home to hospital and back home again.
Finalize the Birth Plan
Double check with your provider that a copy of your birth plan has been put into your chart, and verify any changes you might have made to the plan since your first review together. Provide your labor coach with an extra copy just in case the original is misplaced.
Pack Your Bag
You'll probably pack and unpack your bag a half dozen times this month making sure you have everything you could possibly need. Don't go crazy with books, notebook computers, or other work or entertainment equipment. You'll be too busy with labor, delivery, and the blissful preoccupation of meeting and caring for your child.
Essentials you should have:
Pain-relief tools for labor. Things like massage balls, a picture for focusing on through contractions, a water bottle.
Music to labor by. Check with your hospital or birthing center in advance to see whether a small portable stereo is acceptable. If not, you can always bring personal headphones.
Snacks for the coach. Make sure it's something that won't turn your stomach if you see or smell it during labor.
A camera. For capturing baby's arrival (or the moments shortly there-after). Don't forget the batteries and film (or an extra memory card)!
Stopwatch, clock, or watch with a second hand. For timing contractions.
Several nightgowns. With button or snap fronts if you're going to nurse.
Extra underwear. Make them comfortable but not your best — they'll probably end up with some postpartum bloodstains.
Sanitary pads. The hospital will provide you with some, but extras are good to have on hand.
Phone numbers. Make sure your partner has names and numbers of the folks you'll want to clue in immediately on the new arrival.
A small gift from baby to any siblings. A “hello big sister/brother” gift can make their introduction smoother.
A picture of the kids. Taping a picture of big brother or sister to your newborn's bassinet is a good way to emphasize your first child's important new role in the family.
Glasses or contacts. Make sure you can see the baby after he's finally here.
Warm socks and/or slippers. Those hospital floors can be cold.
A bathrobe. For hallway walks to the nursery.
A baby blanket. For baby's return home. Let your partner bring the car seat on discharge day so you aren't overwhelmed with luggage.
Toiletries. Toothbrush, toothpaste, and other basics.
Shower supplies. You'll be given an opportunity to shower at the hospital, so pack shampoo and other necessities.
A going-home outfit for both you and baby. Pack a set of newborn clothes, and make sure you bring something loose and comfortable to wear yourself.
If you're breastfeeding, you might also pack:
Nursing bras. If you don't have any yet, a bra with a front fastener will work well as a stand-in for now.
A box of nursing pads. For when your milk comes in.
Vitamin E oil or lanolin ointment. For sore or cracked nipples.
Recruit Help Now!
Now is the time to take friends, family, and neighbors up on their offers of assistance.
If they ask whether they can help, by all means take them up on it. Make a list and schedule assignments. Give friends who are good in the kitchen cooking detail so you can have a supply of frozen, home-cooked meals on hand for easy dinners. If you have other children, charge your husband or partner with making sure their school, extracurricular, and social schedules are covered.
Don't put your prepregnancy jeans in your hospital bag. While you'll lose a large percentage of pregnancy weight at birth, it will take some time to return to your old shape and size. If the thought of yet again putting on maternity clothes postpartum is too depressing, buy a comfortable but stretchy coming-home outfit in a new-mom friendly size.
Feel like you need some live-in help to get you through the first week or so? Ask a mommy expert, maybe even your own mom, to come for a visit. Sound out the idea with your mate; though he may feel this is a special “just the three of you” family time, he might reconsider if he hears your reasons. Just make sure your guest isn't someone who will be driving you bonkers after two days.
Finalize Maternity-Leave Plans
If you're working right up until your due date, start clearing the decks early in the month. Make sure coworkers and managers are regularly apprised of where outstanding projects stand, and try to treat every day as if it might be your last before leave. The more you enable matters to flow smoothly in your absence, the less likely you are to get calls at home.
Having a cesarean section? You'll be recovering from major surgery as well as going through new-mom adjustments. It's essential you have adequate rest and support so you can heal and care for baby. Federal law mandates that health insurers cover at least four days of hospitalization following an uncomplicated C-section birth. Stay as long as you can.
Talk with your supervisor about communication during your absence. If you want to remain incommunicado (and you have every right to do so), make your feelings known. You might think about setting a limit on any contact you do agree to, such as e-mails only, which may be easier to answer at your leisure when baby is asleep, or phone calls only in a certain window of time each day. Be sure to outline circumstances that you would consider important enough to be disturbed for. Remember — this is your time off both to recuperate and to get to know your child. Your workplace will survive. (For more on working through pregnancy and beyond, turn back to Chapter 9.)
Hurry Up and Wait (When Baby Is Late)
You've finally reached that magic EDD number and…nothing. No fanfare, no contractions, and definitely no baby. Disappointed, you resign yourself to yet another day of pregnancy. Don't be too depressed. Instead try to stay busy, and if you feel up to it, get out and about. A nice long walk may be just what your little one needs for inspiration. Sitting at home, analyzing every twitch of your abdomen, and watching the hours crawl by will only make the waiting longer.
Unless you have a precise twenty-eight-day cycle and are positive of the exact day that sperm met egg, gestational dating can be fuzzy at best. If you are a week or more past the EDD, your provider will order additional tests, including a biophysical profile, which includes a nonstress test (NST) and ultrasound assessment of amniotic fluid levels and fetal activity. These tools will give her a much better picture of whether or not baby is ready to arrive.
Babies who stay in the womb 42 weeks or longer are considered postdate. Postdate pregnancies can develop
I'm a week overdue. Will my doctor induce me?
Your provider will consider several factors. Is the cervix effaced or dilated? Are you fairly sure your due date was accurate to begin with? Have you had a previous C-section? Generally speaking, if you've hit the week 41 mark and your provider thinks induction is indicated, she may broach the subject with you.