Your Pregnancy: Week 36
Ah, the ninth month – the home stretch. By now you might not be feeling as chipper as you were three months ago. After all, your growing belly might make it hard to sleep, as do common issues like heartburn and frequent urination. In fact, third-trimester insomnia affects three-quarters of all pregnant women, which is either due to previously mentioned physical problems, mental distractions (there’s so much left to do!), or simply your body getting used to the upcoming sleepless nights.
You might also feel off-balance as your front-heavy frame grows and grows, and moody as you flip-flop from wanting the pregnancy to end to being scared that the pregnancy is ending. Not sure if this is good news or not, but the ninth month is often the longest for women – and friends, family and strangers will most likely bombard you with the same question: Are you still pregnant?! Just try to nod, smile, and resist flipping them the bird.
The most important thing your baby is doing now is developing the lungs and respiratory system. If you were to deliver today, there’s a slight chance the baby would need a machine, such as a ventilator, to breathe for him or her – but other than that, your baby (and you, most likely) are ready to be done with this pregnancy.
If your nesting instincts have kicked into high gear, have someone help you clean so you’re not standing on chairs and overexerting yourself. If you’d rather lounge on the couch than pick up a sponge, then by all means, lounge away.
Get all of your financial, medical and employment affairs in order once and for all.
Finalize your baby name list. Even if you’re positive of the baby’s name, have a couple choices on deck in case seeing his or her little face changes your mind.
Have a powwow with the women in your life for last-minute labor and parenting advice – and lots of yummy food, of course.
Advice from Dr. Shari E. Brasner
Although 37 weeks is the textbook definition of ‘term,’ I think of a baby as having achieved maturity at 36 weeks. It’s not that I completely disagree with the textbook; it’s simply my belief that babies born from here on in are fully formed and their lungs are almost always developed. If a woman goes into labor at this time or needs for some reason to be induced, I feel confident that the delivery will have a positive outcome.”
Babble recommends Dr. Brasner’s pregnancy book, Advice from a Pregnant Obstetrician.
Mom-To-Mom Advice: Support
Studies show that support during labor, birth and postpartum correlates with better experiences. But support isn’t always easy to come by, partly because we aren’t always comfortable asking for help. There’s the idea that we should be able to handle everything on our own, or that having help around will burst the private bubble of your new family. It can be really lovely to keep things intimate, but it can also be overwhelming and isolating. The idea that parenting should be instinctual or easy enough to make support unnecessary is a total myth. New parents have always been supported in their work. (Even elephants gather round a laboring elephant mom to support her!) Good support is almost always helpful, and a lack of support has been determined to be a primary factor in postpartum depression.
Support can come in many forms. The first tier might be your partner, family or friends. Ideally, the people you surround yourself with for support will be at least minimally knowledgeable and show confidence in your ability to birth and be a parent.
There’s also the option of professional help, which can supplement or substitute for extended family support. Below are a few options to consider:
Birth Doulas are trained labor-support professionals. It has been shown that a doula can reduce the length of labor, the number of medical interventions used and likelihood of a C-section. A doula will help with active pain relief through methods such as breathing, positioning and massage. She can also help you to understand what’s happening and talk through the options if there are decisions to be made. The down side is that doulas can be costly. When interviewing a birth doula, it’s important to consider both experience and personality.
Postpartum Doulas are there to support the new parents in the days and weeks following birth. They can assist with breastfeeding and introduce the parents to aspects of baby care. Doulas are generally more focused on mother care than baby nurses are, and will sometimes provide cooking, cleaning or shopping support to the family. The idea behind this is that the mother needs to mother, so the doula will take care of everything else. The range of things a doula does varies from doula to doula, so if there’s something specific you’re looking for (or not looking for) you can discuss before hiring.
Baby Nurses are professional newborn caregivers. They are usually not medical nurses. A baby nurse will temporarily move into the family’s home, usually sleeping with the baby and taking responsibility for the baby’s nighttime care. Many baby nurses are experts on breastfeeding, but others less so. If you want to breastfeed exclusively, be sure you are clear about this with your baby’s caregivers and educate yourself about breastfeeding beforehand.
Nannies are generally hired indefinitely rather than for a finite period of time. If you want to hire a long-term caregiver for your child beginning with the newborn period, a nanny is probably the way to go. Look for someone who has experience with newborns, as caring for a small baby requires different skills and techniques than caring for older children.
Babble recommends From the Hips, by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris.