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Congratulations! After weeks of preparation, your baby is finally ready to be born! If your baby is not yet ready, do not worry: 95 percent of women don’t deliver on their estimated due dates. In fact, many first-time mothers end up waiting up to 2 weeks beyond their due date for their baby to arrive. Just take your time and prepare yourself for your coming baby.
What Is Happening To Your Body
The first stage of labor works to stretch, thin (efface) and open (dilate) your cervix by contracting your uterus at regular lengths. When your cervix is completely dilated you enter the second stage of labor, called the “pushing” stage. In this stage you push the baby through the birth canal (a 9-inch journey!) and out into the world into your welcoming arms. The third stage delivers the placenta.
If you don’t give birth within a week of your due date, the doctor might recommend that you take a nonstress test. This tests the heart rate of the fetus and checks its movement to see if it is healthy and getting enough oxygen.
Your doctor might also induce labor by artificially breaking your water and/or injecting hormones. If there is a high-risk level, the doctor might perform a cesarean section delivery.
What Is Happening To Your Baby
A baby born at week 40 measures about 20.2 inches (51.3 cm) long from head to heel and weighs on average 7 pounds (3.3 kg), or roughly the weight of a small pumpkin.
At birth, your baby might be covered with some vernix and blood, and may have some skin discolorations. Don’t worry, this is all normal.
After birth, the mucus will be suctioned out of your baby’s mouth and you will hear the baby’s first cry. Many mothers elect to hold their baby right after delivery, before the umbilical cord is cut. This allows for bonding between mother and baby. The umbilical cord will then be cut, often by the baby’s father, and a series of quick tests (such as an Apgar score) will be performed to test the baby’s vital signs.
As your baby takes his or her first breaths, the umbilical cord will stop working and its breathing will trigger changes in the structure of its heart and arteries, diverting blood to its lungs so it can start to breathe on its own.
At the time of birth, your baby has 300 bones — more than adults who have only 206 bones. Some of these bones will fuse together as the baby grows. Your baby also has 70 different reflexes at birth, ready to start its new life.
Congratulations on delivering your baby! Your journey through pregnancy has now come to an end and your family has grown. However, your journey with your newborn is just beginning. Enjoy!
Ultrasound images courtesy of GE Healthcare
The clinical images and information presented in this application represent normal fetal growth during a typical pregnancy. The images and information are to be used for educational purposes only and not for diagnostic purposes. Please consult a licensed physician regarding any specific questions pertaining to your pregnancy.