You're just 5 weeks away from the big day now, and you may want to start keeping an eye out for any telltale labor symptoms, although chances are Baby will continue to cook for a little bit longer. In fact, if this is your first baby, your due date is likely to come and go without any sign of the little one's arrival!
Baby barely has any room to move any more, so everything is well and truly squashed together in there. If you're feeling even more out of breath or are running to the bathroom even more frequently than normal, that's why!
Baby: What's Happening?
This week your baby will reach somewhere between 17 and 20 inches and length and will stop getting any taller now, although they will continue to fill out weight-wise. Weighing roughly 5.5 lbs, you can expect Baby to steadily gain at a rate of about 0.5 lbs per week right up until he or she makes an arrival.
Your baby has now completed all the basic development needed for survival in the outside world with the exception of the lungs which are active but ideally could do with a little more practice. It's not uncommon for high risk Moms-to-be or those expecting more than one baby to have their births scheduled for week 35 as there's very little risk of issues arising in healthy babies who arrive just 5 weeks early.
One vital organ that does have much more development to complete is the brain. While all other organs take a rest now after 9 months of gruelling work, the brain continues to work overtime, learning how to send messages to other parts of the body. The structure of the brain will also become more stable, although it remains soft and malleable to fit through the narrow birth canal.
Most babies are positioned with their heads down by this point, ready for the birth, and some even start to descend and engage in the pelvis. First babies can be engaged weeks before the birth, whereas subsequent babies tend not to drop into the pelvis until it's game time.
You: What's Happening?
Amazingly, your uterus is now 1000 times the size it was before you got pregnant, and it reaches all the way from your pubic bone up to your rib cage. The baby fills most of that space, so it's not unusual to feel a foot digging into your ribs or a little bottom poking out of your stomach.
Heartburn, reflux, shortness of breath and frequent urination are all very common symptoms now as your organs are smushed together and pregnancy hormones continue to relax your pelvic and stomach muscles. These symptoms will all disappear as soon as your baby's born and your uterus starts to shrink back to a more appropriate size.
If you've got a breech baby, there's so little room in your uterus now that any home efforts to turn him or her to a better position may prove fruitless. However, your Midwife may suggest a different method which involves professionals pushing and twisting the baby from the outside. It's entirely up to each individual mother if they wish to do this or not. The process shouldn't hurt the baby, or you, but may feel a little uncomfortable.
Although you're not due for another 5 weeks, it's very important to be prepared. If you haven't already done so, you may wish to start looking at the best routes to your chosen hospital, although bear in mind that depending on the time of day, the most direct route may not be the quickest!
If you're still working, it's also sensible to plan a route from your office, and for your birthing partner to plan a route from theirs. Program your Midwife or Doctor's phone number into your telephone and get into the habit of carrying your pregnancy notes with you. While you probably won't need them just to nip to the local store, it's vital you take them with you if you're away from home for any length of time, such as a long weekend "babymoon".
If you have other young children, make sure you have arranged for them to be looked after at short notice, make sure your clients have the contact details for your colleagues, and if you're planning a homebirth, ensure you have the room set up with everything you'll need.