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Most women will admit that their newborn looks a bit strange. It’s often difficult to tell who a baby takes after until several weeks after delivery. Most newborns are born with big heads, very short necks and very large abdomens. They looks somewhat like tiny butterballs, making them all the more loveable.

James W. Brann, MD

Your Pregnancy MD
Pregnancy Week Thirty Nine

Author James W. Brann, M.D.

 It is very possible that your baby may arrive this week, now that you are 39 weeks.
Early Labor at 39 Weeks

At 39 weeks pregnant, you might delivery your baby at any time. It is very possible that he or she may arrive this week. Be on high alert for any signs of labor.

If you are having Braxton Hicks contractions, you may notice that they’re occurring more often and becoming stronger. It’s common for Braxton Hicks contractions to transform into real contractions at this time. Make sure you start timing your contraction’s frequency and duration.

If your contractions are coming at irregular intervals and do not increase in strength, then you are probably having false labor pains. During true labor, your contractions have regular intervals, get closer together, last longer and will increase in strength.

Pelvic pressure and discomfort is a common pregnancy symptom at 39 weeks pregnant, and it’s a sign that your body is preparing for labor. As your baby’s head moves deep into your pelvis, you may feel increasingly uncomfortable. Just take heart in knowing your baby will soon arrive.

In the days before your labor starts, you may have diarrhea, indigestion, nausea and vomiting, and the need to constantly go to the bathroom. These are all common “early labor” signs.

Increased vaginal discharge is also a common early labor sign. If you notice an increase in vaginal discharge that’s tinged with pink, red, or brown blood, this may be a sign that your cervix is dilating and/or thinning.

Knowing When Labor Starts

When does labor start, how will I know when to go to the hospital?
Early Labor at 39 Weeks

The signs that labor has begun includes

  • Increasing vaginal fluid (discharge) that is mucus-like and thick, or maybe slightly bloody. This is also sometimes referred to as bloody show or mucus plug.
  • Baby drops, or rather moves lower inside your belly.
  • Belly cramps or low back pain.
  • Your water breaks. Your baby is inside of your womb in an amniotic fluid-filled sack. Before your child is born, the amniotic sac breaks open. When this happens, the fluid in it comes out of a woman’s body through her vagina. You may feel just a trickle of the fluid, or more of a gush of fluid.
  • Contractions begin. During these, your uterus will tighten. Your belly feels hard, and there may be some pain. When a contraction eases, the pain goes away and your uterus relaxes. Some women experience false labor contractions, also called Braxton Hicks contractions, While these may feel like contractions, they are not and don’t signify labor.

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether you’re having Braxton Hicks contractions or true contractions

  • With Braxton Hicks, they may come every few minutes, but over time, they won’t increase in frequency.
  • Usually with rest, Braxton Hicks contractions go away but true contractions do not.
  • Braxton Hicks normally don’t strengthen and become more painful but true contractions will over time.

If you’re uncertain, you need to call your midwife or doctor. If you’re feeling contractions, you want to time them to determine how far apart they’re coming. This gives you a good idea if they’re getting more frequent. Write down the time each of your contractions begins. Use a watch with a second hand to time how long the contraction is. Your doctor or midwife will need this information.

Did My Water Break, or Did I Lose Control of My Bladder?”

It is not uncommon to hear pregnant women confusing their bag of water breaking with urine leaking, or vice-versa. You were probably told to wait until you feel pain if you are not sure, or that “you will know the difference” once it happens to you. However, most moms-to-be are more confused with these advises and are often left baffled once that special day arrives. Are you leaking urine or amniotic fluid? How will you know if your water breaks or have just lost control of your bladder? How will you know the difference?

How do I know if my bag of water breaks?
Did My Bag of Water Break?

It is important to know when your bag of water breaks. Your bag of water may break spontaneously during labor or prior to the onset of labor. When your water breaks at term your labor typically starts spontaneously. If it does not start on its own your physician will start labor within 12 to 24 hours to avoid infection. [Ref;]

Between 8 and 10% of women experienced their bag of water breaking before labor. For certain women, the bag of water breaking is not easily noticeable.

Amniotic fluid

During your baby’s development inside your womb, he or she is protected and cushioned in a bag filled with clear to slightly yellowish fluid, called the amniotic fluid. In addition to its protective properties, the amniotic fluid maintains a steady temperature within uterine environment and facilitates the development of the lungs, the digestive system, and the musculoskeletal system of your baby. The amniotic fluid also prevents compression of the umbilical cord.

The bag that contains the amniotic fluid is called the amniotic sac. It consists of two membranes: chorion, the outer membrane, and amnion, the inner membrane. The chorion membrane contains collagen, a tough tissue that strengthens the chorion. Collagen is also found in ligaments and tendons. The amniotic membrane produces the amniotic fluid. It also forms a phospholipid that stimulates the synthesis of prostaglandins, which induce uterine contractions and trigger labor. Both membranes have no nerve supply, so when they rupture neither you nor baby experiences pain. The environment within the amniotic sac is sterile. It is locked in by the neck of the uterus.

What causes the breaking of the bag of water or rupture of membranes?

Towards the end of pregnancy, the amount of collagen in the membrane of the bag of water decreases. Collagen is what gives strength to the membrane. So, as the collagen decreases and your contractions intensify, the bag of water easily ruptures. As soon as the bag of water bursts, the amniotic fluid leaks out through the cervix and vagina.

Is it amniotic fluid or urine?

Late in pregnancy some women may report uncontrolled leaking of urine, which is a normal occurrence at this time. The increasing pressure of the baby on the your bladder causes discomfort and loss of urine. It is for this reason that urine is commonly mistaken as the amniotic fluid. So, how can you distinguish breaking of water from urine leaking?

When your water breaks, you will feel either a slow trickle or a large gush of fluid. A slow trickle indicates that the amniotic sac has a small leak in it. This type of flow may also suggest that your baby’s head is engaged into the pelvis. When the baby’s head sits closely over the cervix, it only allows small amounts of amniotic fluid to drain away. A big gush of fluid suggests that your baby’s head is not entirely engaged into the pelvis. This type of flow is more commonly reported by mothers who have given birth in the past, mothers carrying breech babies or women with twin pregnancies. Either way, the leakage signals the start of your labor.

Once the leakage starts, it is recommended to follow these steps:

  • Before going into panic, take a deep breath and gather your thoughts. Recall what has taken place before the leakage. Some women describe a distinct popping sensation before their water breaks.
  • The next step is to observe for the pattern of the flow. When the bag has finally broken, the leak can be steady and uncontrollable. If it is a slow trickle that stops, it is recommended to put on a sanitary pad or liner. Do not use tampons. If the pad is constantly moistened without coughing or straining, it is most likely that your water bag has broken. If it is a slow trickle, the flow causes constant wetness on your pad when you are in standing position. To be concise, suspect amniotic fluid leakage when the flow of the fluid is continuous.
  • Another way to determine whether you are leaking amniotic fluid or urine is to lie down on your back for around 30 minutes. This is method is suggested to women with a slow trickle or leak. If the fluid is amniotic fluid, it is expected to pool in the vagina when you are lying on your back. At the end of the recommended time, get up and check if the pad is wet or dry. A dry pad suggests that your water is likely unbroken; a wet pad most likely indicates leakage of the amniotic fluid.
  • Check for the color of fluid. The urine is normally pale yellow to deep amber in color, whereas the amniotic fluid is often colorless.
  • Smell the fluid. Does it smell anything like urine? The smell of the fluid can also help you know whether the fluid is urine or amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid is somewhat odorless. If the fluid does not seem to be urine, it is likely that your water bag has broken.

What do you do if you think your bag of water broke?

If think your bag of water has broken or if you are uncertain on the type of leaked fluid, it is strongly recommended to call your health care provider immediately. Be prepared to give details of information for the following, abbreviated as CAST: C – color of the fluid, A – amount of leaked fluid, S – smell or odor of fluid, and T- time you first observed your water broke.

Your physician will give you simple instructions on how to test the fluid. He or she may also advise you to come to the office for further evaluation. If you are asked to go, it is time to get your bag containing the things that you may need before, during, and after labor. Your physician may order admission once rupture of membranes is established.

Is it Normal to Have Amniotic Fluid That’s Not Clear?”

Aside from its valuable role in nourishing your baby’s growth and development inside the uterus, the amniotic fluid can also reveal essential details about the wellbeing of your baby. The color of your amniotic fluid is also a good indicator of fetal distress. Amniotic fluid is normally clear to slightly yellowish in color. Any deviation from its normal appearance signals the implementation of appropriate medical interventions. The succeeding sections will help you understand its role in fetal development, its diagnostic value and its ability to guide healthcare providers in managing you and your baby during labor and delivery.

What is amniotic fluid?

Amniotic fluid is a complex substance consisting of nutrients and growth factors that promote normal growth and development of your baby during pregnancy. The amniotic fluid is contained within the amniotic sac, which is made up of two membranes. The sac’s outer membrane is called the chorion. The main function of this membrane is to offer support to the sac that contains the amniotic fluid. The inner membrane is the amnion, which does not only support the amniotic fluid but also produces the fluid. This layer synthesizes a substance required to produce prostaglandins, which cause contractions of the uterine muscles and initiate labor.

The amniotic fluid is never stagnant. It is constantly formed and reabsorbed. Between the 20th and 25th weeks’ gestation, the volume of the amniotic fluid depends on factors involved with the circulation of the fluid. Inside the uterus, your baby continuously swallows the fluid. It is reabsorbed across your baby’s intestines to gain access into your baby’s bloodstream. The arteries in the umbilical cord exchange it across the placenta. At term the amniotic fluid measures between 800 and 1,200 mL. If the baby is unable to swallow the fluid, excessive amniotic fluid is detected, indicating a possible case of esophageal atresia or anencephaly of the baby. A disruption of the baby’s kidney function causes abnormally low volume of amniotic fluid.

The amniotic fluid facilitates proper development of bones by allowing your baby to move or float inside the uterus. It promotes lung and digestive tract development. The amniotic fluid prevents compression of the umbilical cord, maintaining fetal oxygenation. In addition, the fluid cushions the baby from movements and blows, and protects the baby from temperature changes.

What is a normal amniotic fluid?

The amniotic fluid measures from 800 to 1,200 mL at term. It has a pH of 7.0 to 7.5, which is neutral to slightly basic. Based on its pH, it is possible to distinguish it from urine, which is acidic. The pH of urine and vaginal secretions are acidic, and since the pH of amniotic fluid is basic a simple pH test will help differentiate between the two. Focusing on its appearance, the amniotic fluid is normally clear. It is colorless to pale yellow in color. The amniotic fluid is also odorless.

What is the significance of having an amniotic fluid that is not clear?

Any change in the color of the amniotic fluid can be an indicator of a potential problem. Some of the possible color alterations and their causes are the following:

Green amniotic fluid
Greenish amniotic fluid is one of the most obvious signs of passage of meconium into the amniotic fluid. Meconium is a sticky black to green substance that forms in your baby’s intestines starting 16 weeks’ gestation. It must be emphasized that a meconium-stained amniotic fluid is not always a sign of fetal distress but is strongly associated with its occurrence.

A green amniotic fluid indicates that the developing baby lost anal sphincter control, facilitating the passage of meconium into the amniotic fluid. The passage of meconium into the colorless and sterile fluid is initially caused by insufficient supply of oxygen to the fetus. Hypoxia induces a reflex that leads to increased activity of the bowel.

This finding may be associated with meconium aspiration syndrome, which can cause breathing problems for the newborn. In a breech delivery, meconium staining is expected as constant pressure applied to the buttocks leads to loss of sphincter control.

Brown particles in the amniotic fluid
This alteration also indicates the passage of meconium from the baby’s gastrointestinal tract to the amniotic fluid.

Dark to golden yellow amniotic fluid
This finding may indicate the presence of bilirubin, a yellow-orange chemical compound produced by the breakdown of old red blood cells. A dark to golden yellow amniotic fluid indicates either the presence of an old fecal material or development of hemolytic disease in the fetus. Hemolytic disease of the newborn, or erythroblastosis fetalis, occurs due to incompatibility of blood types between the mother and the baby. It frequently occurs when an Rh negative mother is carrying a baby who is Rh positive. The mother’s immune system treats the baby’s Rh positive red blood cells as foreign invaders, thereby developing maternal antibodies to destroy them.

Red to dark red amniotic fluid
Red amniotic fluid could be an indication of abruptio placenta, a condition where a normally placenta detaches from the uterus prematurely. This event is initiated by bleeding, which further leads to the formation and expansion of a hematoma behind the placenta. Blood may rupture through the membranes into the amniotic cavity or the products of hemoglobin breakdown diffuse across the membrane, causing dark red color of the amniotic fluid.

Pink amniotic fluid
Among all amniotic fluid color alterations, a pink amniotic fluid is the least severe. One of the indicators of labor is the passage of a bloody show, a stringy mucus vaginal discharge tinged with brown or pink blood. Throughout pregnancy, a thick mucus plug blocks or seals the opening of the cervix mainly to prevent bacteria from getting into the uterus. As the cervix dilates and effaces, the plug is dislodged. Minimal bleeding also occurs as cervical dilation and effacement involves rupture of blood vessels in the cervix. Because blood may dilute with the amniotic fluid, a pink amniotic fluid may be noted during labor.

Any color alteration of the amniotic fluid requires medical supervision. Before labor, it is recommended to discuss with your physician the options that you may consider should the color of amniotic fluid appears different from the normal.

Stages of Labor and Delivery

Labor Stages at 39 Weeks
Stages of Labor and Delivery at 39 Weeks

By 39 weeks of pregnancy most women, if not having a planned cesarean delivery, probably have started wondering a little bit about labor and delivery. Labor occurs in very distinct stages. Some doctors divide labor into three stages and include an ‘early phase’ whereas others divide labor into four stages, which considers the early stage as the first stage of labor. Below we have broken labor down into four distinct stages.

Stage One or Latent Phase
The initial phase of labor is termed the latent phase or stage one. It begins when you feel regular contractions. During stage one of labor; your cervix will slowly start dilating (opening) and effacing (thinning). False labor and stage one of labor initially share similar characteristics. However, the contractions associated with latent labor become stronger, more regular, and more frequent over time; whereas the Braxton-Hicks contractions associated with false labor diminish in frequency and intensity.

During stage one; you may notice what is called a “bloody show”. This is a mucous discharge that is tinged with blood, and it is a perfectly common occurrence during early labor. Other women will lose their mucous plug during this time. Some women consider loss of the mucous plug a sure sign that labor has begun, but a woman can actually start losing her mucous plug weeks before delivery. The bloody show is a much better predictor of imminent labor than loss of the mucous plug.

The latent phase or stage one of labor is often the longest. Generally during this time, the cervix will dilate up to 2 centimeters.

Stage Two or Active Phase
During stage two, you enter what is referred to as the active phase of labor. This is where all the fun begins. During this time, your body will be preparing aggressively to deliver your baby. Typically, you will start experiencing contractions that become more frequent, lasting longer, and stronger. This stage of labor is associated with a faster rate of cervical dilatation and usually begins when you are 2 to 4 cm dilated. By this point in time, you should call your doctor and head to the hospital.

During the active phase of labor you will want to concentrate on your breathing and relaxation techniques. You may find your contractions get strong enough that you are unable to talk through them. If you have taken any prenatal classes, you will find the techniques offered come in handy.

Many women opt for pain medication during the second stage of labor. At this point, medication is not likely to slow or contractions down.

After you have been in active labor for some time, your body will enter the “transition period”. During this time contractions become strong and typically come every two to three minutes. Most women will find their contractions last a minute or more. During this phase, the cervix will dilate from 8 to 10 centimeters.

The transition period can take anywhere from a few hours to a few minutes. Typically this is the most painful part of labor. If you don’t have any pain relief, you may feel nauseous and dizzy during this part of labor.

Stage Three or Time to Push
Once your cervix is fully dilated, you will be ready to push and give birth to your baby. Stage three is the period of time when pushing begins. Most first time moms will push for an hour or more, though it isn’t uncommon to only push for 20 minutes.

Many women find this stage of labor exhausting and exciting at the same time. Every push helps your baby through the birth canal. For some women, the baby will descend rapidly with a few pushes, whereas others it may require pushing for an hour or more.

Your baby’s head will advance down the birth canal until the head becomes visible. This is referred to as “crowning”. At this point, usually everyone starts sharing tears of joy, as your baby is about to make his appearance in the world. Your doctor may note that your baby has a full head of hair, or may comment that your little one is as completely bald. Right after your baby’s head is delivered, your doctor will suction the baby’s mouth and nose. Typically with the next contraction, your baby’s shoulders and body will be delivered.

Stage Four or Delivery of the After Birth
Believe it or not, you are still technically in labor after your baby is born. After your baby is born, your uterus will continue to contract to help separate the placenta from the wall of the uterus. Once this happens, you may have to gently push to help deliver the placenta. Typically, these mild contractions occur a few minutes after delivery. For most women, the entire process takes less than 15 minutes. Most women don’t even pay attention to this stage of delivery because they are consumed with the sight of their beautiful newborn baby.

There you have it, all the steps of labor easily outlined. Now you can start thinking about your big day, just a few short weeks away!

Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring

During labor and delivery, your baby's heart rate will be monitored.
Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring

During labor and delivery, your baby’s heart rate will be monitored. Fetal heart rate monitoring helps your doctor evaluate your baby during labor to make sure that everything is going as planned.

Typically, when your uterus contracts, the oxygenated blood flow to your placenta is restricted. Because this is a natural process it will not be a problem for most babies. However, in some cases, this can result in fetal distress. A fetal monitor will be able to assess whether or not your baby is stressed.

Your doctor can monitor your baby’s heartbeat either through external fetal monitoring or internal fetal monitoring. External fetal monitoring can be used any time during labor. A belt with a receiver can be strapped onto your abdomen. It works much like ultrasound does in detecting a fetal heart rate, providing a little feedback strip that tracks your baby’s heart rate during and in between contractions.

An internal fetal monitor may be used to assess your baby’s heart rate as well. To do this, an electrode would be placed directly on your baby’s scalp via your vagina and cervix. You need to be dilated at least 1 cm and your membranes must have ruptured in order to use this type of monitoring.

Apgar score” or “Apgar test

Apgar Evaluations for Babies

Since you are now 39 weeks pregnant, you will want to try to learn everything you can about what happens during labor and delivery and the care afterwards for your newborn baby. One term you should become familiar with is “Apgar score” or “Apgar test.”

Developed in the early 1950s by Dr. Virginia Apgar, the Apgar test is used to quickly appraise your baby’s health immediately following birth, and it determines whether your baby will need extra medical or emergency care. Your baby will undergo the Apgar test at one-minute and five-minutes after birth. APGAR stands for “Activity, Pulse, Grimace, Appearance, and Respiration.”

How Apgar Scores are Calculated

The Apgar test looks at the strength and regularity of your baby’s heart rate, lung maturity, muscle tone and movement, skin color, and response to stimulation. Depending on how well your baby does in each of these categories, his Apgar score can range from zero (a deceased baby) to ten (a baby that is in perfect health).

To determine your baby’s Apgar score at birth, your healthcare provider will calculate a score of 0, 1, or 2, depending on well your baby does in each category. Some doctors may use an Apgar score calculator similar to the table below:

Strength and regularity of heart rate

  • 100 beats/minute or more (2 points)
  • Less than 100 (1 point)
  • None (0 points)

Lung maturity

  • Regular breathing (2 points)
  • Irregular breathing (1 point)
  • Absent (0 points)

Muscle tone and movement

  • Active (2 points)
  • Moderate (1 point)
  • Limp (0 points)

Skin color / oxygenation

  • Pink (2 points)
  • Bluish extremities (1 point)
  • Totally blue (0 points)

Reflex response to irritable stimuli

  • Crying (2 points)
  • Whimpering (1 point)
  • Silence (0 points)

Normal Apgar Scores

In general, most healthy babies will receive an Apgar score of 8 or 9, which indicates to your doctors that your baby is in great condition. (It’s rare for a baby to have a 10 Apgar score, due to the fact that almost all newborn infants have blue hands and feet.)

Low Apgar Score and What it Means
An Apgar score that is lower than 8 suggests that your baby needs medical assistance. However, if your baby scores low at one minute after birth, and then scores higher at the 5-minute test, your baby will probably not have any long-term problems.

The Apgar Test is Not a Fortune Teller!
Remember – don’t dwell on your baby’s Apgar score. The Apgar test is designed to help your healthcare team assess your baby’s overall physical condition after delivery, so they can determine whether your baby needs immediate medical care. Your baby’s Apgar score does not predict your child’s long-term health, intelligence, behavior, or future outcome.

Babies that have slightly lower Apgar scores at the one-minute mark after birth tend to be premature babies, babies from a high-risk pregnancy, infants born via C-section, and newborns of women who’ve had a complicated labor and delivery.

If your doctor or healthcare team is concerned about your baby’s Apgar score, they will let you know. In the meanwhile, don’t worry about it. Chances are your baby will be perfectly healthy.

Your Baby at 39 Weeks of Pregnancy

Your Baby at 39 Weeks of Pregnancy
Baby at 39 Weeks of Pregnancy

At 39 weeks pregnant, you only have one more week to go until your estimated due date. Now that you’re this close to the finish line, have you made the final preparations for your baby’s arrival? Is your hospital bag packed and ready to go? Have you made a list of the names and phone numbers to call after your baby is born?

Your baby is fully formed and ready to be delivered, however some babies may want to stay in the womb for one or two additional weeks. (After 42 weeks pregnant, your baby is considered “post-term” and your doctor will induce labor, or perform a c-section, to deliver your baby.)

Since your baby is fully mature, he or she has reached their birth weight and length. Your baby may weigh anywhere between 7 and 7.5 pounds, though some babies may weigh more. Your little one is likely to be between 19 and 21 inches long at this point in your pregnancy.

Newborn Appearance

Newborn baby appearance at 39 Weeks
Newborn baby appearance at 39 Weeks

All newborn babies share several common features and characteristics. Most are born with a misshapen head that resembles a cone or elongated shape, particularly if you were in labor for an extended period of time.

Your baby’s head has soft spots called fontanels, which are openings in the skull that allow your baby’s bones to move during delivery. The movement of the bones is necessary for your baby’s head to fit through the birth canal and this flexibility of the bones gives rise to the elongated shape.

When your baby is born, you may notice that his or her genitals and breasts are swollen. This is due to a higher than normal dose of female hormones transferred from you to the baby right before delivery. Fortunately, these ‘irregularities’ will disappear in the days following delivery.

You may find that your baby is born with acne or other red spots. This is perfectly normal. Some babies are born with a condition called pustular melanosis, which is little pus filled bumps that look like acne on the skin.

Other babies are born with birthmarks. There are several different types of birthmarks. The more common include angel kisses and stork bites.

Some babies are born with red and blond hair, even when both parents are dark haired. Keep in mind that regardless of your newborn’s hair color, there is a relatively good chance your baby’s hair will change colors once or twice as they are growing. It isn’t uncommon for a baby born blond to turn into a brunette.

How can I naturally induce labor?

Labor Inducing Techniques

Toward the end of pregnancy, nothing is more uncomfortable than well…being pregnant. Most women experience a host of symptoms including excessive fatigue, swelling and sometimes increased leg cramps and sleep problems when they near the end of pregnancy.

Almost everyone starts to think of ways you could naturally encourage or induce your body to go into labor toward the end of pregnancy. Realistically speaking, no labor inducing technique will work unless your baby is ready to come out. That means your baby has to be ripe for the picking. Here are some of the more popular labor inducers tried by women:

  • Walking – While walking won’t necessarily start labor, it can encourage labor to progress if you’ve started early contractions. Walking is often also good for encouraging a head down baby to settle into your pelvis. This will help dilate and efface your cervix.
  • Intimacy – This is my favorite natural method of labor induction during pregnancy. Men’s semen contains prostaglandins, which are necessary to help ripen your cervix. Your cervix must thin and dilate for you to have your baby. I think this is a beneficial form of natural induction that also helps relieve stress for both mom and daddy.
  • Evening Primrose Oil – EPO contains the precursors to prostaglandins, substances your body needs to produce prostaglandins to help ripen your cervix. Some midwives rub evening primrose oil directly on the cervix during the last weeks of pregnancy to help the cervix thin and dilate. Keep in mind that placing anything in the vagina during pregnancy may increase your risk of infection and is not recommended.
  • Castor Oil – I do not recommend you try castor oil, though you will likely read much about it. Castor oil is nothing more than a laxative. It stimulates your bowels, which may irritate your uterus causing contractions. If you are not already dilated and effaced somewhat however, chances are you will just end up sitting on the toilet for hours after taking castor oil.
  • Spicy foods – These have the same effect as castor oil, but are a more gentle way of stimulating your bowels. You may get serious heartburn however, from eating spicy foods so try them at your own risk!
  • Blue and Black Cohosh -These are herbal remedies that when used together may help induce labor or help strengthen contractions. You should never use them however without consulting a qualified herbal or health care professional. There are some studies suggesting blue cohosh may damage your baby’s heart or lead to uncontrollable hemorrhaging in the mother. A better bet is to stay away from these potentially dangerous herbs.
  • Aromatherapy – Certain essential oils including clary sage may help promote or encourage labor contractions in women. Try adding a few drops to your shower.
  • Acupuncture and Massage – There are many trigger points in the body that can help inspire labor. Seek the help of a qualified masseuse or acupuncturist during pregnancy for help with these.

Many women go into labor just by relaxing. Sometimes pent up stress and anxiety are all that are necessary to prevent labor. You may find a relaxing massage is all you need to go into labor simply because it allows your body to relax enough to encourage delivery!

Are There Benefits from Delayed Cord Clamping?

Wait, or Clamp? And Why?

As it turns out, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has an opinion on delayed cord clamping; it recognizes the general benefit for both preterm and term infants. They make the recommendation “a delay in umbilical cord clamping in vigorous term infants and preterm infants for at least 30–60 seconds after birth has benefits. “[Ref]

The benefits of delayed cord clamping, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are the following:

  • increases hemoglobin levels – higher (healthy) red blood cell level
  • improves iron stores – lower rates of anemia

The only con for a short delay in cord clamping is the small increase in the incidence of jaundice. The jaundice may require photo-therapy for a short time.

Making Your Decision about Delayed Cord Clamping

If you carry full-term, discuss clamping options with your midwife or obstetrician before delivery. Some practitioners routinely delay cord clamping, while others routinely cut the cord within 20 seconds of delivery. Consider filling out a written birth plan template to help organize your delivery decisions. Make your preferences clear, and make sure your doula, partner, or labor support person is aware of your choices.

Regardless of what you decide, you can rest easy with the knowledge that in most cases, your decision about cord clamping is unlikely to make a large impact on the health of your baby. If something happens during delivery that prevents your preference from being followed, don’t sweat it—healthy babies are possible (and common) with either method!

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