Your Pregnancy: Week 38
Around this time in your pregnancy, your doctor may do a pelvic exam to evaluate your progress. They’ll look at how thin and soft your cervix is, which is called effacement, and how dilated (or open) it is. (Delivery happens when you’re 100 percent effaced and 10 cm dilated.) First-time mothers tend to efface before they dilate; the opposite is true for veterans.
You may hear people recommending you take castor oil or start having sex to hurry along labor (especially when you go past the 40 week mark), and there might be some truth in the folklore. It is known that prostaglandins play a role in the natural initiation of labor; castor oil releases prostaglandins after causing intestinal cramps. Even semen contains low levels of prostaglandins.
There’s not much new going on in there besides more preparation for life outside the womb. Your baby is continuing to shed the lanugo (body hair) and producing more surfactant for the lungs, but other than that he/she is listening to your voice and eagerly getting into position to meet you.
Stock up on everything you’ll need for your recovery period – like sanitary napkins, nursing bras and nipple cream. Find out more about what to expect postpartum so you’ll be ready.
Relax! Curl up and read that book you’ve always wanted to read.
Educate yourself and your partner on labor and delivery, and prepare for the aesthetic and practical aspects of what’s ahead. Do you want to video the birth or take photos? Will music or quiet soothe you? How will you distract yourself between contractions?
Advice from Dr. Shari E. Brasner
Most pregnant women have a pretty good understanding of the process of cervical dilation that needs to take place during delivery, but they seem to have a less firm grasp on the concept of effacement. And from a doctor’s point of view, effacement is a much more meaningful indicator than dilation. In the case of a woman having her first baby, effacement often precedes dilation, and indicates that progress is being made. In my opinion, effacement is the hardest part of the labor process. I’m happy to see some of the work done prior to the onset of true labor. For instance, if a woman’s cervix is totally closed but 90 percent effaced, then I feel pretty certain she’s going to have a nice, short labor. I’ve seen it happen time after time.
But obstetrics is funny. I’ve often examined a woman in the final weeks of her pregnancy and gotten the sense that the cervix is still firm, uneffaced, and that the head is still high in the pelvis. And yet when labor starts, the baby simply flies through in record time.”
Babble recommends Dr. Brasner’s pregnancy book, Advice from a Pregnant Obstetrician.
Mom-To-Mom Advice: When The “Circumcision Conversation” Never Ends
The choice of whether or not to circumcise is a relatively new one on the ever-evolving landscape of parental choices. As recently as a few decades ago, circumcision in America was so common many parents weren’t even consulted about it. Now, we are asked what we prefer. This is respectful, and it’s always great to have a say in such matters. But this new choice brings with it some hard-to-answer questions. Circumcision has a lot of facets: personal, cultural, medical and sometimes religious. Pulling together these various strands into a neat pro-and-con list can be really tough.
From a medical point of view, it doesn’t seem to matter much. According to the American Academy of Pediatricians, your son will be just fine either way. The risks of increased this and decreased that are small enough to be statistically insignificant. This can actually be at the root of the indecisiveness. The personal elements of the decision are sometimes even more complex. But it can also be reassuring.
If you’re finding that your decision is getting harder over time, consider limiting your input on the subject. Particularly problematic are the extremist websites, which are largely built on propaganda and horror stories. Sure they might help cement an opinion, but if you’re on the fence, the emotional manipulation can be troubling. Words like “mutilation” and “unclean” are tossed around.
Studies are often used only when they support a strong point of view. It’s easy to become disgusted with both options when viewed in this context. But a choice must be made, so forget this stuff and head to a more reasonable and balanced assessment (Babble has one here). And realize that you may be second-guessing your choice for a while. This doesn’t mean you’ve made a bad decision; it just means that the issue is complicated.
Babble recommends From the Hips, by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris.