If you're new to this series, you may want to start with the first three posts you can find here, here, and here.
Dear New Mommy,
You're in the final month of your pregnancy. Wow, doesn't time just fly??? Well, it flies for the rest of us, anyhow.
So you're at least 36 weeks pregnant now and that's a marvelous milestone. Hit 37 and, suddenly, you're officially "full-term". That's fantastic news! It does not, however, mean you should get ready to have this baby any day now. For one thing, the average first time mommy (left to her baby's own devices), will deliver at 41 weeks 1 day. And you know what? That's just fine and dandy. No reason to rush Mother Nature. Could your baby arrive sooner than that? Oh, absolutely! And plenty do. But I still suggest that you hold off getting impatient, at least until you see your due date come and go... and it very well may.
Don't let other people get impatient either. While it makes sense that your husband will be as anxious as you to meet this precious new life the two of you created, don't let friends, coworkers, or extended family get all gung-ho and pushy on you. "Haven't you had that baby yet?" "I thought for sure she'd be born over the weekend!" "You looked ready to pop LAST week!" Comments such as these are completely useless and, in your overly emotional "I-can't-wait-to-be-a-mommy-but-I-have-six-hundred-things-left-on-my-to-do-list" state, you can easily end up feeling like a failure just because you didn't have your baby when someone else thought you should. Ridiculous. As before, take it all with a grain of salt. Let them have their pools and predictions- they're fun, after all! But don't listen too much to what people say...
On the subject of that to-do list, let me just say this-- feel free to ignore about 90% of what you think you NEED to do. Here are a couple things to keep in mind...
- You do not need to child-proof your home. Newborns only go where you put them. They don't get into much trouble on their own...
- You do not need to sterilize your home. Again, newborns aren't crawling around or putting everything in their mouths. As long as your home's been dusted and vacuumed sometime in the last few weeks, you're probably just fine.
- You do not need to wash up every single article of baby clothing right now. Make sure you have some sleepers, onesies, burp cloths, and (if it's chilly) some blanket sleepers, clean and ready. Just a few of each will do the trick for now.
- You do not need to use Dreft to wash those baby clothes. If your family has a tendency toward sensitive skin, you likely already use one of those "free" detergents-- that'll work just fine. If you're one of the many who is not so sensitive, it's likely your baby will be just fine too. Remember this- your babe will be up against everyone else's clothing too when you hold him. So unless you plan on washing the whole neighborhood and family's wardrobe in Dreft, you're kind of wasting your time...
- The nursery does not need to be completely set up. It is unlikely that your baby will be sleeping in there immediately anyway. Why wash all those crib linens just to have to "freshen" them a month or more down the road?
- Don't sweat it if the changing table's not put together. Even more, don't sweat it if you don't HAVE a changing table. Babies can easily be changed on beds or floors. They don't care. I promise.
- Don't worry if you're not "nesting". Nesting is a pretty nifty phenomenon and it affects a good percentage of women. If you don't happen to be one of them and you'd rather spend your afternoons napping than scrubbing out your oven? Follow your body's cue and nap. Take it as a sign that that's what you need.
A few things that you really should have together at this point:
- Get the car seat in the car. The car seat is one of very few things your newborn actually NEEDS... Make sure it's installed correctly- go here to find the nearest place to have your installation checked by a professional. Even if you're SURE you did it right, get it checked. What's the worst that could happen? They'll tell you you did a great job (which is what happened to my husband before the birth of our first baby). Not a real hardship...
- Pack a hospital bag. It doesn't need a lot of fancy things, but toss some things in there that you might want. My personal recommendation? Pack your own toilet paper. If you have a vaginal birth, that hospital-grade scratchy paper is not ideal. (Ask me how I know...) You do NOT need to pack diapers (or formula, if you know you're going that route) for your baby. The hospital will take care of that.
- Make sure you have diapers at home. More than you think you'll need. It's fine to have a couple packs of newborn size, but don't go nuts with the teeny tiny diapers. Most babies can move into size 1 diapers pretty soon after birth and that size will last longer.
As you get closer to, or even pass, your due date, your doctor may start to talk to you about induction. This is a very personal choice and one you have to make for yourself. If you doctor has a very real, medical reason to suggest it, by all means, hear him or her out, ask questions, and try to arrive at a good solution together. If the subject comes up just because one of the following is true...
- Your doctor is going on vacation.
- The weekend is approaching.
- You're feeling anxious/uncomfortable/bloated/sick of being pregnant.
- Your due date has come and gone.
- You like to "plan" things.
- Your baby is "huge! ginormous! a nine pounder for sure!"
then I really, really urge you to think long and hard before signing on for it. Inductions are notoriously intense and frequently take longer than natural labors, especially with first babies. Rare is the woman who can get through an induction without the aid of drugs or epidurals (something to be aware of if you'd hoped to have a drug-free delivery). It makes sense, really. Think about it for a second- if your baby was READY to come out, she would. You'd go into labor and your baby would be born. This is a natural process and your body knows what to do. Inducing your body into labor forces it to start doing things it's not entirely ready for. I don't care how advanced they've gotten in terms of drugs to "ripen the cervix" and what-not... it's not the same as your body getting ready for birth on its own. Being induced in no way makes you a bad mommy... but I'm not convinced it's usually the best choice. Just be informed. Be aware that you have every right to ask questions if your doctor recommends it. And try not to be lured in by the prospect of getting to have your baby sooner...
Finally, as the big day approaches, don't over-anticipate what your labor will be like. You can't know for sure and things don't always go the way you want, despite your best-laid plans. Don't lose sleep over fear of a c-section (though, for heaven's sake, don't HOPE for one either) and don't be so bound and determined to do everything naturally that you'll feel like a failure if something comes up and it's just not possible for you. Have a vision in your mind of what you think you'd like to do, but try not to obsess about it.
I'll be writing again soon to talk to you about actually giving birth... until then, enjoy these last few weeks of being the center of attention! Once that baby arrives, believe me, you'll be out of the limelight.
Many blessings to you,
Your been-there-done-that Mommy friend,