Your Pregnancy MD
Pregnancy Week Thirty One
Changes in Your Body at 31 Weeks Pregnant
Your uterus probably measures 4.5 inches above your navel. You will probably find you have some trouble catching your breath by about this time in pregnancy. Keep in mind you should take things easy and take your time to prevent excessive fatigue. As you continue your pregnancy you might consider some prenatal yoga or some stretching around this time to help prepare your body for labor and help you relax despite your growing size.
During 31 weeks pregnant and beyond you may become more aware of your breast changes. Some women leak colostrum in the last trimester of pregnancy. This is the pre-milk that forms in your breasts to nourish and protect your baby in the first few days of life. Colostrum varies in color from clearly to orange or even yellow at times. Some women never notice colostrum until right before delivery while others leak frequently. Fortunately a good breast pad can prevent embarrassing leaks from making their presence known to others.
Colostrum is particularly beneficial for babies born prematurely. Packed full of important antibodies, colostrum helps boost your baby’s immune system and protects your baby against early infections that can occur during the first weeks of your baby’s life.
By about this time you may be thinking more and more about your impending delivery. Delivery comes with many choices and many options. Some women will prefer a natural delivery while others will have an induction or a cesarean section. Of increasing interest of late are patient choice cesarean delivery at term. This is sometimes also referred to as a cesarean delivery at maternal request. This is an often controversial health care subject. Many women feel that the risks of a vaginal birth often outweigh those associated with cesarean delivery, thus they choose a cesarean delivery. It is their right to do so.
Along with your growing belly, you may have noticed that your belly button sticks out more than it did before. This is a normal pregnancy change, caused by the pressure of your expanding uterus pressing against your belly. Some women find their protruding belly unattractive, so they try to hide it. You, on the other hand, may celebrate this pregnancy change.
If you don’t like how your navel looks now, just remember that your belly button will go back to its pre-pregnancy appearance a few months after your baby is born.
Blurry vision may be a symptom that you experience. Water retention, hormones, and change in your blood circulation can affect your eyes and make you more nearsighted. These vision changes are normal, and your eyes should go back to normal after your baby is born.
Blurry Vision is Common in Pregnancy
If you have always had perfect vision, you may experience a
strange sensation when you’re pregnant. Your vision may start to blur, and you
may feel like you need glasses to see well.
Your blurred vision is caused by the same build-up of fluids that cause bloating and swelling in your ankles. Because your lens and cornea may thicken during pregnancy, the pressure of the fluid inside your eyeballs may also change. All of these changes cause your vision to blur. Fortunately, your blurry vision will go away after you deliver your baby. Your vision will most likely return to normal within six weeks after your baby is born.
While vision changes are common during pregnancy, it can also be a sign of pregnancy-inducted hypertension. You will want to report any blurred vision that you’re experiencing with your doctor. He or she will need to assess your condition.
Vision Changes and Hypertension
Hypertension (high blood pressure) during pregnancy can put you
and your baby’s health at risk. The risk of harm ranges from mild to severe. If
you suffer from high blood pressure during pregnancy, you are at higher risk
for health problems, including stroke, kidney failure and damage, seizures,
organ damage, and breathing problems. Hypertension may also cause you to go
into premature labor (or labor that starts before 37 weeks). In addition, your
developing baby may have problems growing in the womb (a condition called
“intrauterine growth restriction.”).
Because of the potential complications that may occur with pregnancy hypertension, your pregnancy will be monitored closely.
In some cases of high blood pressure during pregnancy, you may be placed on full bed rest for a certain period of time or until you deliver. Unfortunately, in other cases, the only cure for hypertension during pregnancy is delivery. Your baby may be delivered early to protect his or her health, or your own health.
In addition to blurred vision, another irritating symptom that
you may notice in the second trimester is the emergence of dry eyes. If you
wear contacts, you may find this pregnancy symptom quite annoying, since it can
make wearing contacts uncomfortable.
Having dry eyes during pregnancy is a common occurrence, and experts believe that hormonal fluctuations are to blame. Pregnancy hormones can change the type and amount of tears created, which can leave your eyes dry and not well lubricated.
Dry eyes can be accompanied with burning and itchiness. You may also have the sensation that there’s something caught underneath your eyelid. This can make you feel very uncomfortable. Some pregnant women with dry eyes also find that they are more sensitive to light.
In many cases, your dry eyes can be easily remedied with artificial tears (or lubricated eye drops) that are sold over-the-counter at your local pharmacy. You should talk to your doctor about his or her suggestions on the best eye drops for your situation. (Most over-the-counter eye drop products are safe to use during pregnancy but there may be a few that contain active ingredients that may be unsafe for expectant mothers.)
Being pregnant brings
emotional highs and lows causing mood swings. Both planned and unplanned
pregnancy not only cause physical changes to a woman but emotional changes as
well. Your body is adjusting to the additional hormones and the additional
stress that pregnancy brings. You may laugh, cry, and feel nervousness or you
may feel many emotions at once. Having mood swings are a very normal part of
There are several simple steps you can take to help you through the ever-changing emotions of your pregnancy. You will feel better, emotionally and physically if you follow these suggestions:
- Get plenty of rest and relaxation.
- Exercise and take walks.
- Spend time bonding with your partner and ask for their support.
You may be experiencing feelings of concern and fear about becoming a parent. There are many upcoming events that you may be thinking about. You may be worried about the baby’s health, giving birth, whether you will be a good parent and the effects a child will have on your life.
Let’s list and discuss some common fears you may have.
What if something is wrong with my baby?
Every mother-to-be has this fear. It is comforting to remember that most babies are born healthy. By eating right, avoiding risky behavior and having regular prenatal care you are doing all you can to support the health of your unborn child.
I am scared of giving birth, I am afraid of the pain
Fear of pain is a common concern with expectant mothers. It is important to be educated about the birthing process so you will know what to expect. Make sure you attend childbirth classes to learn what you will be experiencing, how to ease your labor pains and the options for pain medication. There are medical interventions, like an epidural, that will eliminate the pain during labor. Knowing the options available will lessen your fears.
What if something goes wrong in the delivery room and my baby has distress?
Even if your delivery does not proceed the way you planned, be confident that you and your baby will be fine. You have selected a doctor you trust and who is trained to handle any unexpected problems.
What if I am not a good mom, I don’t know anything about taking care of a baby?
For almost a year, you
have been consumed with planning and preparing for your new baby. You made an
important decision to create a new life; you spent your time and energy
planning to conceive; and you discovered that it was a success! For the next 9
months, you experienced the ups and downs of pregnancy, and you planned for
your new baby’s nursery. Now, it’s almost time for your new bundle of joy to
come into the world. When your little one finally arrives, you’ll go on the
adventure of your life—parenthood! Not only will you love and care for your
newborn’s body, but you will have a vital role in shaping his/her mind and
While there is no preparation for taking care of a baby that is as good as hands-on experience, education is a helpful tool. You can take newborn classes, read parenting how-to books, talk to other parents who have new babies, and obtain support from your family and friends.
I am scared my life will never be the same again?
You are absolutely right! Your life has changed. Your baby will require your time and attention. You will be needed physically and emotionally and that will take time away from activities and commitments you are used to doing. You do not have to give up your previous lifestyle. However, until your child is older, you may need to alter your plans and adapt your activities to include your new baby.
Stress during Pregnancy
Negative Effects of Stress during Pregnancy
Even an uncomplicated
pregnancy can result in some stress during pregnancy. Stress is unfortunately a
common and ordinary side effect of living. Stress can however be particularly
harmful during pregnancy, thus it is important that you work to reduce your
stress and anxiety levels during pregnancy as much as possible.
There are many negative side effects of stress during pregnancy. Studies show that very high levels of stress may contribute to an increased risk of premature delivery or low birth weight babies. Still other studies suggest that overly high stress levels can increase your heart rate, blood pressure and produce chronic anxiety.
None of these side effects are good for your baby. Remember that just as what you eat affects your baby, so too does your stress level and your emotional health. It is important that you minimize your stress and anxiety during pregnancy to provide your baby with an optimal environment in which to grow.
How to Manage Stress during Pregnancy
Stress doesn’t have to
be bad especially when you take care to manage the stress you experience during
your pregnancy. Stress management includes caring for yourself, feeling rested
and regularly finding healthy outlets to relieve stress and anxiety. Most women
will not suffer any ill effects from stress during pregnancy, especially when
they take adequate steps to cope with their stress.
Here are some easy tips you can follow to help reduce and manage your stress during pregnancy. You can even adopt many of these tips after pregnancy to ensure your stress level remains manageable after delivery.
- Eat a healthy, well balanced diet. Eating well will provide you the energy you need to get through the day, especially when you feel tired or overworked. The more junk food you eat the more stressed your body will be. Your body needs ample nutrients to cope with daily stress.
- Get plenty of sleep. The less sleep you get the more stressed you are likely to be. If you find you are having trouble sleeping invest in a comfortable body pillow, some new sheets and even a white noise machine to help block out outside noises and help promote more restful sleep. You may find it helpful to take a relaxing bath before bed. Also avoid eating up to one hour before bed to prevent heartburn, which can disrupt your sleep and increase your level of stress.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise is an ideal way to help cope with daily stressors. It will also leave you feeling more energetic and ready to tackle the day’s challenges. Some women find that exercising after work helps provide them the time they need to wind down and distress from their day at work. Exercise can also help ease labor and alleviate some of the anxiety associated with the upcoming labor and delivery.
- Try some natural stress reduction techniques including biofeedback, yoga or meditation. Each of these methods is a non-interventionist way to help you focus, identify stressors and release stress in a healthy, safe and energy producing manner.
- Talk regularly with your partner. Your partner can help you work through your anxiety and help comfort you in times of high stress. By communicating regularly and openly with your partner you are bound to feel more prepared to deal with the challenges each day will bring.
- Reduce your workload. If you find you are doing too much in a day find ways to delegate certain tasks to others. Carrying a baby for nine months is a lot of work. You should expect that those around you will be willing to take on more responsibility to help you out in your time of need.
If you find you are overly stressing about labor and delivery, be sure to talk with your health care provider. Nine times out of ten they can help put your fears to rest and help restore your confidence in your ability to give birth and your enthusiasm for delivery.
Anxiety, while common during pregnancy, is not a healthy side effect of pregnancy. There are many reasons you may feel anxious during pregnancy. Along with pregnancy comes the stress during pregnancy and responsibility of carrying a new life into this often chaotic and unpredictable world. Fortunately you don’t have to spend every waking moment thinking, obsessing and stressing over your pregnancy. There are several strategies you can adopt to help reduce the anxiety associated with pregnancy.
Pregnancy Stress that Causes Anxiety
Some of us will worry and obsess about the same things over and over again throughout our pregnancies. Below you’ll find a list of common pregnancy stressors and tips for overcoming them to ensure an anxiety and stress free pregnancy.
- Stressor #1 – Taking on too much work. It’s easy to take on too much and cause stress during pregnancy. Above all other times in your life this is the time to take it easy. You can do this by delegating tasks and slowing down to avoid anxiety during pregnancy. Now is not the time to sign up for extra work or overtime if you can avoid it. Don’t nominate yourself president of your local Mom’s club yet either. You’ll have plenty of time for parenting activities when you aren’t pregnant.
- Stressor #2 – Worry about the baby. It’s common and normal for pregnant mothers to worry about the health and well-being of your baby causing stress and anxiety during pregnancy. Remember that most pregnancies go off without a hitch. Even if you do experience an unexpected surprise during pregnancy, chances are worrying won’t resolve the issue. Make a commitment to yourself not to worry. Try some relaxation and meditation exercises to help relax you throughout your pregnancy. If you have a habit of researching all the frightening rare problems that can arise during pregnancy stop now. Read light hearted and enjoyable materials instead. You and your baby will benefit.
- Stressor #3 – Worries about labor and delivery. Women have been giving birth since the dawn of time. You will successfully deliver your baby. Keep telling yourself that. Practice your labor in your mind. Imagine yourself having a complication free delivery. Studies suggest the more you worry and fret about delivery, the more likely you are to experience complications. So stop worrying! Try talking to other moms who have experienced enjoyable labors and deliveries.
- Stressor #4 – Worrying about your parenting ability. If this is your first pregnancy then undoubtedly you will work yourself up into a frenzy at least once or twice during your pregnancy regarding your parenting ability. The truth of the matter is whether or not you have any parenting experience, you will figure out what to do when your baby arrives. And whether or not you have family close by, there are plenty of support groups to provide additional advice and support for new moms. So again, don’t worry, avoid the pregnancy stress and eliminate your anxiety during pregnancy!
- Stressor #5 – Worrying about how clean your house is. Forget about cleaning. Pregnant mothers have a natural inclination toward nesting. This is the desire to clean everything spic and span and prevent unseen germs from entering baby territory. Here again is a situation where anxiety can ruin a perfectly good day. Truthfully speaking everyone has visited someone whose house was not perfectly clean at one time or another. If you are worried about visitors after the baby comes don’t. They are there to visit you and the baby, not to inspect how clean your house is. If anything your friends and family should be volunteering to clean for you. After the baby is born take some time away from house chores. The last thing you should worry about is how clean your house looks.
Depression during Pregnancy
Depression is just as possible during pregnancy as it is after. While
most people consider pregnancy a joyful time, there are women who suffer from
short bouts of depression during pregnancy. Others experience more significant
symptoms of depression that may require treatment during pregnancy.
Pregnant women are often under pressure to feel glowing and cheery. This suggest however that women disregard feelings of sadness or depression that may occur
Symptoms of Depression during Pregnancy
There are many symptoms of depression during pregnancy. Some commonly reported symptoms from women include:
- Excessive sadness or feelings of guilt.
- Irritability that is persistent and aggravating.
- Persistent insomnia or fatigue that is out of the ordinary.
- Loss of interest in enjoyable or fun activities.
- Lack of desire to engage in social events or participate in activities that one might normally associate as fun or enjoyable.
- Frequent moodiness.
Causes of Depression during Pregnancy
Unfortunately many of these symptoms are common during pregnancy whether or not one is depressed. If however you find that you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms more often than not, it is important that you contact your doctor to determine whether or not you may be suffering from pregnancy related depression.
Depression during pregnancy may result from fluctuating hormone levels. Rapid changes in a woman’s hormone levels can influence the level of chemicals in the brain, particularly the ones that regulate mood. This commonly results in depression among pregnant women, particularly during the first and third trimesters. Some women experience more anxiety than normal during these times, while other women experience more depression.
Some women are more susceptible to depression during pregnancy than others. Some examples of high risk categories of women include:
- Women with a family history of anxiety, depression or other mood related disorders.
- Women who have complicated or high risk pregnancy. The added stress associated with a high risk pregnancy or a pregnancy that requires bed rest can take a huge emotional toll on the mother, resulting in depression.
- Women who undergo fertility treatments, who often feel more stress and anxiety over their baby’s health than other pregnant mothers.
- Women who have experienced a previous loss during or shortly after pregnancy, which can contribute to anxiety and depression during pregnancy.
Treating Depression during Pregnancy
There are several simple
steps a woman can take to reduce her chances of developing depression during
pregnancy. For one it is vital that pregnant mothers get plenty of rest.
Sometimes lack of sleep alone is enough to trigger short bouts of anxiety and
depression. It is also important that women have time to bond with their
partner during pregnancy. If you haven’t already, consider some private time to
nurture your relationship before your new arrival makes his appearance.
Many women also find it helpful to manage their stress through exercise and by talking things out with their partner or with a therapist or doctor. If you find that you are having difficulty despite your best efforts, you should seek the advice of your doctor. Your doctor may recommend medications to help you overcome depression during pregnancy.
For pregnant women with severe major depression, your doctor may recommend using medication. The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the first-line treatment medications in pregnancy, rather than other antidepressants. Sertraline (Zoloft) or Citalopram (Celexa) are usually the first medications to be used.
For pregnant women that do not respond to the SSRIs, venlafaxine (Effexor) or bupropion (Wellbutrin) are recommended.
Treatment options for severely depressed, pregnant patients who do not respond to SSRIs, venlafaxine, and bupropion include tricyclic antidepressants.
Social Effects of Pregnancy
The social effects of pregnancy often center on the need for a new mom to balance the competing roles of parent, partner, friend and individual. No one woman will react to their new role of parent in the same manner.
In fact, you may not even be ready to become a new parent. Perhaps you feel that you are too young, or not in the right time in your life. It is possible that you are facing an unplanned pregnancy.
Most women also express the desire to represent a positive role model for their children. The expression of this desire is natural. It is important however that you realize that you do not have to be a ‘perfect’ parent in order to be a good parent. A good parent is one that cares for, loves and provides their children with the nurturing and support they need to grow into healthy and happy adults.
Becoming a Good Parent
Most new moms are concerned with
being a good parent. Confidence in one’s parenting ability comes with time. One
of the best things you can do for yourself is recognize that your role as parent
will change and evolve over time. It is important that you enjoy the process,
and not stress out about it unnecessarily in the months during your pregnancy
Most women are concerned with issues including breastfeeding, their sexuality and conflicts that may arise with their partners over the division of labor and responsibilities that result from pregnancy. These are natural concerns that typically resolve themselves through open communication within your relationship.
How well you cope with the social aspects of pregnancy will depend in part on how much you struggle with cultural and personal expectations of the role of mother. Remember however that ultimately you are in control of your life and that you have the power and ability to make good and safe choices, the choices that are best for you and your children.
While it is important that you recognize social and cultural factors as well as your personal expectations of the role of mother, it is equally important that you also acknowledge your limitations.
It is vital for your health and well-being that you accept that each and every day you are doing the best that you can, and often that is good enough.
Pregnancy Brain – Forgetfulness
Are you having trouble
remembering things these days? Do you find yourself easily distracted? You
aren’t alone. Forgetfulness during pregnancy is quite common, especially in the
first and third trimesters. This phenomenon is called “pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, you may be in the middle of an important conversation, and you suddenly forget what you were talking about. Or you’re on the way to the kitchen, and when you get there, you forget why you went there. You may even forget important meetings and appointments. It can be frustrating to feel so forgetful, but it’s just another side effect of pregnancy.
What Causes Forgetfulness in Pregnancy?
Experts aren’t sure exactly what
causes “pregnancy brain,” but hormones are thought to play a role.
Emerging research suggests that pregnant women have trouble with spatial
recognition memory – which is your ability to locate and know where things are
in your world (or environment).
Researchers who study spatial recognition memory in pregnant women found that expectant mothers had a more difficult time learning rules and planning to move objects within a space. In addition, pregnant women couldn’t remember if they had seen past patterns or locations. The scientists also discovered that pregnant women had higher levels of depression and anxiety – which improved after the baby was born. This suggested that hormonal fluctuations might be to blame for “pregnancy brain.”
Other Theories about Absentmindedness When Pregnant
Being absentminded when you’re
pregnant might also result from your pregnancy symptoms.
In the first trimester, you may find that you’re easily distracted by the prospect of having a new baby, or you might be nervous about the health of your baby. The fatigue and morning sickness that plagues you in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy can also contribute to your fogginess and forgetfulness.
The “pregnancy brain” typically gets better in the second trimester, since you’re feeling much better and the annoying first trimester symptoms go away. But when you reach the final trimester, you will find that your tendency to be more forgetful returns.
Your pregnancy brain in the third trimester may be a result of the overwhelming anxiety that you feel about your baby’s impending delivery, or sheer exhaustion, especially since your fatigue has come back and it becomes harder to sleep at night (due to your huge belly getting in the way).
How Can I Cope with Pregnancy Brain?
Although being so forgetful may
be frustrating, once you deliver your baby and become settled into your role as
a mother, you will regain your concentration and feel less forgetful.
In the meanwhile, you should write everything down. Create a grocery list of items you need around the house; keep a planner for important meetings and appointments; use alerts and reminders on your cell phone. If you’re organized and write everything down, there is less chance that you’ll forget something important.
Man’s Sympathetic Pregnancy
Did you know that men can also experience pregnancy? While it’s impossible for your husband to feel the baby growing inside of him, he can experience morning sickness and other pregnancy symptoms, as well as gain weight throughout your pregnancy. This phenomenon is called Couvade Syndrome or a sympathetic pregnancy.
Couvade Syndrome can start as early as the first trimester and last until your baby is born. Some men are so tied to their significant others and their unborn babies that they can experience “contractions” near the time of labor.
Researchers aren’t sure how common Couvade Syndrome is, but some experts estimate that it affects anywhere between 11 and 65 percent of fathers-to-be. Sympathetic pregnancies are a universal phenomenon; there have been cases all over the world and throughout many centuries.
What Causes Couvade Syndrome?
The cause of Couvade Syndrome isn’t known, but researchers have a number of theories. It may be due to the man’s desire to ease his wife’s pain by sharing in it. It is also possible that your partner feels so close to you and the new life you’ve created that he experiences pregnancy symptoms to offer support. There’s also the possibility that he feels guilty for causing pregnancy, so he takes on your symptoms.
Interestingly, some women report that their pregnancy symptoms tend to be mild during their husband’s sympathetic pregnancy. For example, if he experiences severe nausea and vomiting in the first trimester, she may have no symptoms at all.
Whatever the cause of a man’s sympathetic pregnancy, the symptoms will go away once your baby is born.
It’s very important that you allow your husband to get involved with your pregnancy. Allow him to go with you on your prenatal visits. The two of you should also take a childbirth or parenting class together. Although no class can beat personal experience, classes may help you and your significant other feel better prepared for your baby’s arrival into the world.
In addition, when you experience pregnancy as a couple, you typically have a happier, less stressful pregnancy. It’s easier to cope with the emotional ups and downs that come with expecting a baby.
Crazy, Vivid Dreams in Pregnancy
In the second trimester
and onward, you should expect to have some crazy, vivid dreams. Your dreams may
be so vivid that they appear real once you first wake up. Interestingly, you
spend less time in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep during the second and third
trimester. However, you may be remembering your dreams better, since your REM
sleep is constantly being interrupted due to sleep disturbances – such as
frequent urination, restless syndrome, round ligament pain, heartburn and
Your vivid dreams in pregnancy may be due to your heightened emotions. No matter if you’re overjoyed or feeling apprehensive about your pregnancy, your emotions may play into the type of dreams you’re having.
There are several common themes that run in pregnant women’s dreams. They include:
- Caring for baby animals – It’s not uncommon for pregnant women to dream about taking care of friendly cuddly, baby-like animals. For example, you may dream of puppies and kittens in the second trimester. These friendly animals are thought to signify that you’re tuned into your maternal instincts. On the other hand, if you dream of scary, menacing animals, this may signify that you feel uneasy about a new baby entering your life.
- Dreams about a former flame – You may feel embarrassed if you start dreaming about an ex-boyfriend or ex-lover, but it’s actually pretty common to dream about a former flame during pregnancy.
- Your partner is cheating – If you dream about your husband or partner hooking up with an ex-girlfriend or a complete stranger, this may signal that you’re insecure about your relationship. You may be afraid that your partner may stop loving you. Because you’re dependent on the support of the people around you, you should discuss your feelings with your partner.
- Someone is attacking you – Dreaming that you’re being attacked is rather common. It’s often an indication that you’re anxious or fearful of an unknown aspect of your life. Perhaps, you’re afraid of whether or not your baby is going to be healthy, or if you will have that immediate bond with him or her.
Your Baby at 31 Weeks Pregnant
By pregnancy week 31 your baby weighs in at roughly 3.3 pounds and is still roughly 16 inches in length!
During the final weeks of your pregnancy your baby will spend lots of time building layers of fat under her skin to keep her warm and safe after delivery. Your baby’s legs and arms start looking less wrinkly as they begin to fill out and plump up. Your little one’s skin is still covered with fine lanugo hair and vernix, but most of this will be shed in the final weeks of your pregnancy.
Your baby will soon discover the space in your womb getting much tighter in the last weeks of pregnancy. You too may experience some discomfort as your belly continues to expand and your baby takes up more room in your uterus.
Your baby’s movements will continue to be strong but will also feel less dramatic or sporadic by this point in time. Your baby has less room to swim about, thus will move one or two body parts more slowly many times within your uterus. You may notice particularly strong movements or kicks and sudden changes that will occasionally startle you and often delight you. Onlookers often have a good deal of fun watching an expectant mother start and gasp at the sudden and exciting movements of their increasingly strong baby by this time in pregnancy.
babies will have turned into the head down position for birth. This is the best
position for delivery. However, around 25 percent of babies are still in the
breech position (with the head up and the legs or buttocks at the bottom).
Fortunately, a majority of these babies will turn before you deliver.
Now your baby has an established cycle of sleeping and waking. Your baby alternates between periods of quiet rest, REM sleep (the dreaming stage of sleep), being awake with activity but no eye movement, and being awake with lots of activity and eye movements.
Your baby’s umbilical cord now contains “cord blood,” which is rich in stem cells. After your baby is born, you have the option of donating this cord blood to research or storing them in a private facility, in the event that a family member gets sick and may be able to use them.