With eight weeks to go the notion of giving birth is probably beginning to seem a little more real to you, and you may be looking forward to the time when your maternity leave starts - if it hasn't already. If you were planning to work right up to, or near, your due date but you're finding things a little tougher going than expected then you can still change your mind. Legally you'll need to give your employer 28 days' notice to change the start date of your maternity leave, but they may well be flexible about this. If you are finding that work is beginning to become something of a slog then read up on our tips for making working during pregnancy easier on yourself.
Backache is usual at this stage of pregnancy as the key supportive muscles and ligaments loosen in preparation for birth. And of course there's also all that extra work that your new body shape creates for your back. You can help lessen backache by trying to keep a good posture, with a straight back, and by being careful about what you carry around, and how. To ease backache try a warm bath to soothe your joints or stretching or antenatal yoga or other stretching exercises to help keep you supple.
Around this time of pregnancy it's also quite common for women to experience uncomfortable leg cramps, often at night or first thing in the morning. If these are causing you some bother then make sure you follow our tips for avoiding leg cramps, particularly by ensuring you stay hydrated and warming your leg muscles down at the day's end and warming them up first thing in the morning. Cramps are just one of the pregnancy-related woes that can keep you awake at night and if you're only now starting to find it more difficult to sleep at night then make sure you read our tips for getting off to a good night's sleep. Aromatherapy can be particularly useful with many oils doing a great job of clearing your mind and settling you ready for sleep. Other oils can be helpful with pregnancy discomforts that may be keeping you awake, sandalwood, for example, helps to settle heartburn.
No matter where you give birth, and under what circumstances, you'll be able to have at least one birth partner with you for your baby's birth. Most women these days choose to have their partner with them, but this isn't always possible (or desirable!), in which case you might want to consider asking a family member or friend, particularly someone with experience of childbirth. Another option, which is becoming more popular, is that of a hired independent midwife, doula or labour coach to provide one-on-one assistance and continuity of care up to, during and even after, labour. If you're not completely happy with your current NHS care, or you're simply interested in idea of a hiring in extra, and personal, help for the birth then it shouldn't be too late for you to find an independent midwife or doula, but it can take time, so you don't want to leave it any longer.
Things to do this week
- Decide who you'd like at the birth - If you haven't already decided who you would like at the birth then now is a good time to do so, particularly if you're interested in hiring an independent midwife or doula.
- Choosing your pram/buggy - You can buy many buggies and prams and simply walk out of the shop with them, but you may find the model you want has a delivery lead-time on it, and for very popular models this can be several weeks. If you haven't already narrowed down your buggy options then this is something to get onto quite soon.
- Gear up your body - If you haven't yet got round to it then it's time you paid a little attention to preparing your body for the birth.
See here for more on how your baby will develop in week 33.