Your baby has really plumped up. She weighs about 6.8 pounds and she’s over 19 1/2 inches long (like a leek). She has a firm grasp, which you’ll soon be able to test when you hold her hand for the first time! Her organs have matured and are ready for life outside the womb.
How your baby’s growing:
Wondering what color your baby’s eyes will be? You may not be able to tell right away. If she’s born with brown eyes, they’ll likely stay brown. If she’s born with steel gray or dark blue eyes, they may stay gray or blue or turn green, hazel, or brown by the time she’s 9 months old. That’s because a child’s irises (the colored part of the eye) may gain more pigment in the months after she’s born, but they usually won’t get “lighter” or more blue. (Green, hazel, and brown eyes have more pigment than gray or blue eyes.)
How your life’s changing:
For many women, the next couple of weeks are a waiting game. Use this time to prepare your baby’s nursery or to take care of necessary tasks you may not get around to for a while after your baby’s born. Take naps, catch up on your reading, and spend uninterrupted time with your partner while you can.
Some swelling in your feet and ankles is normal during these last weeks, but call your practitioner without delay if you notice excessive or sudden swelling of your feet or ankles, more than slight swelling of your hands, any swelling in your face or puffiness around your eyes, or have a sudden weight gain. Also let her know immediately if have severe or persistent headaches; visual changes (such as double or blurred vision, seeing spots or flashing lights, light sensitivity, or a temporary loss of vision), intense upper abdominal pain or tenderness, or nausea and vomiting. These are symptoms of a serious condition called preeclampsia.
3 Questions About… Preparing to breastfeed
Q1. Why is breastfeeding considered the best way to feed a baby?
Breast milk is nature’s most perfect food for babies. It has just the right proportion and types of proteins, carbs, and fats, along with almost all of the vitamins and minerals that a baby needs in the first six months of life. Dozens of studies have confirmed the benefits of breastfeeding and new ones are published all the time.
Here’s a look at some of the highlights. Breastfeeding can:
- help protect your baby from diarrhea, respiratory problems, and ear infections.
- reduce your baby’s risk for allergies, leukemia, and possibly obesity.
- reduce your stress level and risk of breast cancer.
Q2. What can I do to prepare for breastfeeding?
You can set yourself up for breastfeeding success by reading about how to breastfeed and learning where to turn for help if the going gets rough. Here are four key things to know:
- Insist that you and your baby have skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth (unless either of you has a medical complication) so you can start breastfeeding as soon as possible. If you have a c-section, ask that your baby join you in the recovery room as soon as your surgery is done.
- Realize that nursing doesn’t come naturally to every woman, and if you’re feeling discouraged, you’re not alone. Get help early while you’re still at the hospital or birth center to make sure you and your baby get the hang of breastfeeding before you go home.
- Nurse your newborn frequently – eight to 12 times every 24 hours. And unless medically necessary, your baby shouldn’t get anything but breast milk until breastfeeding is well established (for the first few weeks at least).
Q3. Does breastfeeding hurt?
Just because breastfeeding is the most natural way to nourish your baby doesn’t mean it’s always easy. For many women, breastfeeding can be uncomfortable or even painful at first. Don’t suffer in silence. Pain is often an indication that your baby isn’t attached to your breast properly. Her mouth should cover a large part of your areola (the pigmented skin around your nipple). Your nipple should be far back in your baby’s mouth. If nursing hurts after your baby’s first few sucks, break the suction by inserting your little finger between your baby’s gums and your nipple – and try again until you find a position that’s less painful. Talk to a lactation consultant before you leave the hospital to make sure your baby is latching on to your breast correctly. If your hospital doesn’t provide lactation support or you encounter difficulties after leaving the hospital, you can contact La Leche League International for help.
Some women are totally comfortable breastfeeding in public, while others feel self-conscious. If you’re worried about it, carry a jacket or extra blanket with you when you go out with your baby. That way, if he needs to nurse before while you’re out, you can drape it over your shoulder and your baby’s head for privacy.
This Week’s Activity:
Start reading up on baby care. If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to switch reading gears from pregnancy to baby. You won’t have as much time to read after your baby’s born, so learn all you can about the first few weeks now. A good place to start is BabyCenter’s Preparing for a Newborn area.