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The Beginners Guide to Babies: The Last Month of Pregnancy
I was baby-sitting long before I became a mother. As the oldest grandchild of many, taking care of the babies fell to me when my mom and her sisters got together. I swore I would never have children of my own. I swore that I hated babies and all small children. I swore that I would have an exciting life, living an adventure every day.
I guess God had a different plan in mind, as I have eight beautiful children. And every day of my life is a new adventure. Although it isn't the journey I had planned, I wouldn't change it for anything.
Eight pregnancies. Each carried off with grace and fortitude. Ha ha. But, I do have some experience with babies. And with that last long month of waiting, for the baby to come home. This series of hubs will cover new baby basics, starting with the month before you actually have a new person in your home.
My kids and me, October 2014
There are many excellent pregnancy and child care books on the market. My personal favorite, the one I turned to time after time, after time, after time, is "What to Expect When You're Expecting". It is a comprehensive guide, month by month. It covers not only physical changes within the mother and her body, but the emotional turmoil that occurs during pregnancy, and the development of the fetus each month. This book was an amazing tool during each of my pregnancies, and helped me understand what was normal.
Pregnancy is, at best an arduous journey into the unknown, not only for the mother, but for the father as well. It is a time of excitement, fear, joy and worry. Add a 55 gallon drum of hormones, and there you have it, a pregnant woman.
The last month is arguably the hardest. You have your eye on the calendar, hoping that the baby won't be "late". All babies are born right on time. The doctor may have miss guessed the exact date, so your due date should be considered a rough estimate. (I am not going to go into premies here for a few reasons. 1. All of my babies were late. I have absolutely no experience with a child coming early. 2. I believe everything happens at exactly the right time. That is not necessarily my timing, but the timing of the universe. Everything happens when it is supposed to, for whatever reason.) Just like with everything else throughout the rest of their entire lives, babies are unpredictable. The date they come is just the beginning of a lifetime of surprises.
During the last month, you begin weekly doctor visits, at which the doctor monitors not only the health of the mother, but the health of the baby as well. Although you are getting so close to your delivery date, it is important to go to each of these appointments. A lot can go wrong in those last weeks. One of my children, Samantha, the third youngest, flipped upside down in the last month of my pregnancy. The doctor waited two weeks, to see if she would spontaneously correct herself, which she declined to do. A stubborn kid, even then. After two weeks, the doctor put me on an inversion table, and manually turned her, which was one of the creepiest feelings ever. We waited until she was two weeks "late", and when labor didn't start spontaneously, the doctor decided to induce labor.
There are things you can do, during the last month of pregnancy, to ease your delivery. The best thing you can do, for your health, and for the baby, is to walk as much as possible. Taking long walks strengthens the muscles used during labor. It also helps the baby move into the proper placement.
Walking during your labor is also a good idea, if you are able. Walking during labor helps dilation, it helps keep your contractions consistent and strong. If you are having false labor, your contractions will slow down or stop when you are walking. Walking also keeps you fit at a time when you can't do many other types of exercise.
Fitness wise, another good thing to practice is deep squatting. Deep squats loosen the pelvis, and prepare your body for birth. Squat as low as you are able, with assistance from your man, and hold as long as you are able. This will loosen the pelvis, and keep the other muscles stretched, which will be very important when the big day finally arrives. If deep squatting is at all painful or uncomfortable, stop immediately.
Having your belly and your peritoneal area massaged with oil is beneficial during the last month of pregnancy. If you have dad help you, it can draw you closer. It is important to let your man help in whatever areas you need assistance. Don't leave him out of this exciting time.
Massaging with oil keeps the skin soft and supple, which will help the area stretch when it needs to stretch, then return back to normal. Stretch marks are an unfortunate side effect of our tissue stretching, and a warm oil massage can help mitigate the damage done to our bodies during pregnancy. Warm the oil in hot water, then gently massage any areas that are sore or swollen.
During the last month, when your belly is swollen, your joints ache, and your breasts leak, the last thing you feel is attractive. You are tired. You feel huge. You hurt. You are afraid. This is the time to let your man draw close to you. Ask him massage your tired feet. Lay on your side and have him rub your lower back and buttocks. Sciatic nerve pain can be debilitating during this time. Firm but gently massage may help relieve that pain. It will also relax and calm your anxious mind.
There are many ways for your husband to help calm and soothe you. Allow him the opportunity to serve you during this very stressful and anxious time. It will not only help you feel better, but it will also bring you closer together.
These are but a few tips on getting through that last month, before the commotion begins. Stay tuned for more baby information in the coming weeks.