CHANGES TO MUM
Congratulations! This week you have reached full term and are in week 40 of your pregnancy. You may or may not have had your baby yet, remembering that only 5% of babies are born on their due date.
It is likely that in the last couple of weeks your obstetrician has discussed the possible requirement of inducing labour.
Generally your obstetrician will suggest that your pregnancy does not pass 42 weeks and in most cases will not allow you to continue past week 41.
Induction means to artificially start labour and is usually done if there poses some risk to you or your baby and sometimes both.
Induction of labour is generally planned ahead and therefore you can discuss your options further with your obstetrician or care provider.
There are a couple options for inducing labour. A hormone gel or tape may be placed in the upper vagina, this helps the cervix to soften and begin to dilate.
In addition or alternatively a amnihook can be used to break your waters, it is inserted through the cervix.
An IV may be inserted and an infusion of the hormone oxytocin will be administered to start the contractions.
If you haven’t already, then now is the time to talk to your doctor about when to come to hospital if you do go into labour naturally.
Your health care provider will usually expect you to call before leaving for the hospital so they are prepared and ready for your arrival.
You will need to of course discuss with your obstetrician for any special recommendations they may have for you when you come to hospital.
As a guide, if this is your first baby with a healthy pregnancy and no complications you will generally be advised to make your way to the hospital when your contractions are at regular 5 minute intervals and last about 45 seconds.
If you have some distance to travel to the hospital, are progressing rapidly or are finding it difficult to cope with the pain, the maternity unit will advise you as to how to proceed.
If it becomes obvious that you are not going to make it to the hospital and the baby is coming (you have a strong, uncontrolled urge to push) or the baby’s head is visible, you should by no means attempt to get to the hospital!
Call for an ambulance and they will talk you through the process until help arrives.
Baby Blues and Postnatal Depression
Over the last couple of weeks of the pregnancy week by week guide we have focused on what everyone is thinking about at this stage of pregnancy – labour! However it is also important to discuss postnatal care.
Rather than speak about the physical postnatal care, as this can vary greatly depending on the hospital and care provider, mental postnatal care is extremely important to recognise and be aware of.
The ‘baby blues’ affect up to 70% of women following the birth of their baby and is a period of mood swings that can affect mothers.
Generally the baby blues will only last a few days to a couple of weeks and are thought to be brought on by the sudden change of hormone levels following the baby’s birth.
As your body under goes many changes during pregnancy your body will face a multitude of changes following the birth of your baby.
Some common signs of ‘baby blues’ include an onset of emotions, tears for no particular reason, an anxious or tense feeling, generally unwell or excessively tired.
While the majority of women will face some sort of ‘baby blues’ following the birth of their child, these should not be confused with postnatal depression.
The ‘blues’ usually occur in the first week following birth and last a short period of time, where postnatal depression (PND) can last weeks and even months.
It is a mood disorder and affects approximately 20 to 30% of women in the months following childbirth.
Unlike the ‘baby blues’ PND may happen at anytime during the first year after birth.
Signs of Postnatal Depression (PND)
- Poor self-image or self-worth
- Loss of control when generally competent
- Inability to think clearly
- Tearfulness for no apparent reason
- Overwhelming feelings of anxiety or depressed mood
- Inability to do household tasks
- Exhaustion and over concern about lack of sleep
- Poor appetite or overeating
- Fears of being alone or of social contact
- Loss of sexual interest
- Obsessional thoughts or activities
- Exaggerated fears about health and safety of self, baby or partner
- Suicidal thoughts, plans or actions
PND is an extremely serious and should not be taken lightly. It happens to many women and women should not have a fear or stigma about asking for help.
If you feel you are suffering from PND you should discuss your feelings with your partner, midwife, child health nurse or doctor.
They may refer you for further support, advice and treatment which may include counselling, a support group or medication.
CHANGES TO BUB
At this 40 week stage of pregnancy most babies are ready to come out and it is simply a waiting game. An average baby will be born weighing 7 and 1/2 pounds and measure about 51cms in length.
Postnatal care for your baby will start immediately from the moment your little one enters the world. After you have had some skin on skin time with your newborn, the baby is then weighed, measured, cleaned up and wrapped in a warm wrap.
Despite the climate conditions of the room, your baby is now having to adjust to a completely different world and is very different to the environment he/she has been living for the past 9 months.
You will be provided with your baby’s Infant Health Record book after you deliver. The book will remain at the hospital until the both of you are discharged. The NNST, hearing test and discharge weight of your baby will be recorded in this book.
This book should be taken with you to record details of your child’s health from birth to teenage years. It will be an invaluable tool for remembering important health checks and immunisations.
Immediately following the birth of your baby there are two injections for your baby that will require your consent and should be discussed with your doctor. As with any preventive measure, this is your choice.
Vitamin K for Newborns
An injection of vitamin K will be given (with your consent) following the birth of your baby and helps the blood to clot. Our bodies naturally produce vitamin K, however babies do not get enough of their own until a few months old. One injection is enough to protect your baby for the first few months until their body takes over producing their own supplies.
Vitamin K is a preventative of a rare, but often fatal bleeding disorder called Haemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn. It can cause bleeding into the brain, resulting in brain damage.
Hepatitis B Immunisation
The second injection that will be administered to your baby following birth (with your consent) is for the immunisation against Hepatitis B, a serious disease that can be contracted throughout life and is found in infected body fluids including blood, saliva and semen.
Like with all immunisations, consult your doctor for advise on the benefits, risks and side effects to decide the best method of protection for your baby.
Postnatal care for your baby will continue during your hospital stay and will involve full checks by the midwife.
These include clamping the umbilical cord with no ooze (with the clamp removed on day 3), jaundice (yellow) levels monitored, baby demand feeding at least 6 times within a 24 hour period, bowel actions and urine output.
Furthermore a paediatrician will check your baby within the first 24 hours following birth and again prior to discharge.
Your baby will also undergo a hearing test and a heel prick blood test while in hospital to screen for some rare congenital disorders which can be treated with early detection and intervention.
The blood test will check for Phenyiketonuria, Galactosaemia, Congenital Hypothyroidism and Cystic Fibrosis.