All About You
Have you written your birth plan? How about setting up a phone tree to share the happy news? (That way, once baby has arrived, your birth partner only has to make one phone call—and the news will be spread from there.) This week you'll need to iron out all your birth details.
And be sure you know the signs of premature labor!
- Menstrual-like cramps (sometimes with diarrhea, indigestion, or nausea)
- Watery, pinkish, or brownish discharge (sometimes preceded by a thick mucus plug)
- Amniotic fluid, trickling or flowing from the vagina
By now you're getting used to the backaches, leg cramps, and other pains that come with the final weeks of pregnancy. You may also experience swelling in your ankles and feet, and sometimes in your face and hands. The swelling is caused in part by pregnancy hormones, which encourage your body to hang on to water to fuel a variety of baby-growing needs. Try drinking plenty of water and elevating your feet as much as possible to relieve swelling. Don't worry—most of your uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms will disappear once you deliver. In some cases—five to 10 percent of pregnancies—persistent swelling may be a sign of a potentially serious condition called preeclampsia. Your healthcare provider will be checking you regularly, however, to make sure that you do not have this condition.
Getting Ready for the Hospital
On TV and in the movies, having a baby often seems quick and dramatic. In real life, you'll most likely be at the hospital for hours rather than minutes before your nurse or physician announces, "It's a boy!" or "It's a girl!" And unless it's an emergency situation, you won't likely be rushed into a delivery room. That said, if you plan ahead, you can make your hospital or birth center experience less hectic.
Take a practice run: Sounds like a silly question, but do you know how to get to the hospital? How about what entrance to use or where to park your car? Go on a practice ride so you know the answers to these questions.
On your run, take notes. For example, parking can be stressful, especially when you're in labor. Find out how close the hospital's parking structure is to the hospital. Once in the hospital, find out exactly what floor houses labor and delivery (L&D). Ask whether you go directly to L&D or whether you need to check in somewhere else first.
Your hospital may offer tours for parents-to-be; call to find out more.
Fill in your paperwork before delivery day: You shouldn't have to worry about anything other than having a baby once you're in labor, but the hospital needs information about your health insurance and medical history before you can be admitted. Most hospitals will allow you to fill out pre-admission forms a few weeks before your expected due date. Certified nurse midwife Dr. Joanne Motino Bailey, PhD, says that your physician may be able to provide you with the necessary forms you need to fill out to make check-in at the hospital a quick process.
You should also contact your health insurance provider before delivery day, as you will need to add your baby's name to your insurance policy shortly after birth.
Check the hospital's costs for incidental expenses: You may take it for granted that you'll have a phone and a TV in your room, but depending on hospital policy, you may be charged if you use them. Whether you're in the hospital for two days or more, these costs can add up (and aren't likely covered by your health insurance).
You may also be charged more if you are in a private room. Call the hospital and your health insurance provider beforehand to make sure you understand these costs.
Choose a pediatrician for your baby: As part of your hospital paperwork, you may be asked to include the name of your baby's pediatrician. Consult with your health insurance provider, your physician, or even ask friends for recommendations when selecting a doctor for your child.
Once you've chosen a pediatrician, contact him or her with your baby's expected delivery date. A pediatrician will need to examine your baby before he leaves the hospital. Your pediatrician will then suggest when to schedule follow-up appointments and immunizations for your infant.