At 38 weeks pregnant most women are feeling ready for their baby to be born, and you might even be feeling a little impatient to have it all over with and finally meet your baby. At around this point in the pregnancy many women start to think about how they can naturally help to kick-start labour but it's your baby who decides when she's ready to appear, and if she's not ready then no amount of spicy food or sex will shake her out of there. While mums due around the same time as you, or even after, may already be meeting their little ones, remember that there are still another two weeks until your due date, and your baby will benefit from every day she spends in your womb until she's fully ready to leave. So save those natural labour catalysts until you're at your due date.
Take some me-time
If you've already got everything ready and waiting for baby then take this opportunity to really relax whenever you can and make the most of the quiet days or weeks before chaos strikes. This is a great time to arrange one last haircut, massage, pedicure or other special treat which you probably won't be experiencing for quite a while once baby arrives. It also makes sense to make the most of the time alone that you still have with your partner, so get out to the cinema, a romantic dinner or simply enjoy chilling in cafes before that life is whisked away from you.
Enjoy your older child
Already a mum? If this is a second time pregnancy, then don't forget that this advice to seize the moment counts just as much for you. Although you'll be able to do less relaxing than those waiting for their first baby, it's still easier for you to get out on your own now than it will be once you have a tiny baby to care for - remember how those first few months were the last time... It's a lot easier to get out and about with one than two, so take your little one out as much as you can and share little treats like child-friendly cafes where you can rest your limbs and enjoy a nice cuppa while your child explores some different toys.
Read more on:
If you do find you have some time and energy left then it's a good idea to prepare some nutritious meals for the freezer for those first couple of weeks after the birth when no-one will feel like cooking - to save time and effort you can simply cook double of whatever you're making and pack half in the freezer.
Calm your birth fears
You may be anxious about your impending labour at this stage, particularly if this is your first baby or if you didn't have a very good experience with your last birth. Reading about other women's experiences can help, as long as you read enough of them to realise that there are just as many positive stories as negative ones. While some women find hearing other birth stories unsettling, most will be able to take something away from other people's experiences, whether it helps them realise just how diverse and unpredictable birth experiences can be, or reassures them that the indignities of labour are usually rather common and also easily survivable. On ThinkBaby we have plenty of edited birth stories to read through as well as those birth stories posted by ThinkBaby mums (broken down by age-group). And of course you can post your own birth story for everyone else to read once you've recovered enough energy!
Catch up on your birth plan
To help you feel best prepared it's a good idea to go through your birth preferences / birth plan again and check that it still reflects how you'd like to approach labour. Re-read around your preferred labour options and check that you know how to use any birthing props that you plan to use. It's also a good idea to read around forms of pain relief that you're not so keen on using so that you know what questions to ask should they be suggested to you as the best option in your circumstances, and are generally aware the pros and cons involved in such procedures as an epidural or Caesarian section. Make sure your birth partner is well-versed in what your preferences are and encourage him to read up on a few experiences too so that he's better prepared to support you.
Things to do this week
- Get a haircut - It'll probably be your last chance for a while and you want to have a half-decent barnet for those after-birth pics, don't you?
- Keep up the exercise - If you're feeling bulky and uncomfortable then it can be easy to talk yourself out of any exercise, but (unless your doctor has specifically recommended against exercising) getting some gentle exercise is very beneficial to your over-laden body and will keep you on better physical form for the birth. An easy walk in the fresh air, swimming, yoga or similar stretches are all great at this stage for most pregnant women. Just make sure you balance exercising with plenty of rest and feet-up time.
- Make a date with your man - Take your focus off your due date for a minute and make an evening date with your partner, you're running out of chances!
- Cook double of your meals and freeze the remainder in handy portion sizes to make life easier after the birth
See here for more on how your baby will develop in week 39.