Now I’m well into my 38th week, it seems crazy to me that my pregnancy journey is full term and coming to an end. It doesn’t seem all that long ago I was sharing that breaking news, and through scans, symptoms and three trimesters, the time has surely flown by. With almost ten days to our due date, the big day will soon be upon us and it’s time to get serious!
Being a natural planner (or stress-head if I’m being realistic) I’ve had lists upon lists of things to get done by a particular time. With Christmas done and dusted I had a huge January to-do list which was ticked off within a few weeks, and now I have little to do other than relax. That’s easier said than done, I should add, so even my reminders to chill out and breathe have created a new check list to keep me on the straight and narrow.
Here’s a little update on where I’m at and what I’m hoping for as I head toward the delivery room.
38 Week Symptoms
Now I’m approaching the grand finale my symptoms have definitely gone up a notch. Where baby movements were previously all leggy kicks and punches, my now big baby has less room for the acrobatics. Kicks are big bodily digs in the ribs, twists and turns with a sticking out bottom and head butts right in the vagina. What some people call ‘fanny daggers‘ I liken to a ‘pencil poke’ – a sharp jabbing pressure to the cervix that burns at times and feels like baby is about to punch his way outa there.
I’m aware of braxton hicks where my belly tightens and goes hard – preparation contractions, I’m told. It’s not painful but feels odd all the same.
My mobility is considerably challenged now; on crutches and with a pelvic support belt wrapped round me, I’m tentatively waddling about the house and climbing the stairs breathlessly like I’m venturing up Everest. I had to give up on many household chores months ago but even now the most basic of tasks are a question of do I or don’t I. Waxing my legs for the last time today was interestingly close to not happening, and whatever drops on the floor (hello sock falling from the laundry pile) is no longer my problem.
And bedtime can be taken with a pinch of salt. Between pee trips to the bathroom every two hours and tossing and turning from one painful hip to the other, or more like being rolled over by the other half like a beached whale, there’s little time for actual sleep. But I obviously do get some shut eye judging by the amount of ridiculous and vivid dreams I recall on each waking moment for that pee.
So essentially I’m knackered. Poorly slept, in pain and popping off to bed for random daytime naps to try and catch up on the rest I feel so robbed of.
Preparing For Labour
With every waking moment spent with my phone tapped into my birth club app, I’ve been addicted to learning the next new thing I can do to prepare myself for labour. Hearing the wonders of raspberry leaf tea – said to tone the uterus for a more efficient labour – I made a note to ask my midwife for the go ahead and got drinking the herbal blend at the start of my 37th week.
I’ve also bought a birthing ball – essentially a huge gym ball for sitting and bouncing on to relieve joints, improve posture and get baby moving or staying down in the pelvis.
I was initially hoping to embark on a hypnobirthing course but I never got around to it because there wasn’t one running locally to me, so instead I’ve spent the time watching hypnobirthing Youtube videos and learning breathing techniques. I feel a bit silly practicing in front of anyone (and bursting into laughter really doesn’t help counting your breaths) but it’s gradually growing on me as I try to use breathing control during periods of tummy discomfort.
And my pelvic floor exercises have become second nature now. Once you’ve established a routine it’s an easy to do bit of self care that will hopefully keep my pelvic muscles in good shape. I count a hold of ten seconds with a relax of 5 for several repetitions, and do this at different times of the day such as laying in bed in the morning and night, and me-time when I have my shower.
Testing myself for the Group B Strep bug was something I finally got onto at week 36, receiving my negative result at week 37. I debated long and hard about doing it and despite having fun and games collecting my samples, I was able to post it off and get the result everyone hopes for. Being a carrier could have meant huge risk to my baby, requiring me to take antibiotics during labour, so thankfully I should be okay now.
The Hospital Bag(s)
So my bags are absolutely, totally ready to go. I’ve actually had them packed for weeks but today I went about adding the odds and ends such as phone chargers and ipod leads to my labour arsenal. And there’s not just one bag but three!
My labour bag contains food – isotonic drinks and snacks to fuel me through labour and to feast on post birth. Typically flap jacks and Ritz biscuits but I’ve also thrown in a can of baked beans in case I’m super famished! (And cold beans always taste better than warm.) Also, my ipod jacked with chill out playlists, my bra top, nightie and gown, and those little comforts such as a hand held fan, flannel and lip balm.
The big hospital bag is carrying every thing else I’ll need on the hospital ward. My changes of clothes, baby’s clothes, wash bag and essentials such as maternity sanitary pads, breast pads and the all important disposable knickers. Not knowing how long I could end up staying in hospital made it difficult to figure quantities to pack, so there’s plenty pants and baby-gros to keep both baby and I happy.
And the final bag is the baby’s changing bag: lots of nappies, muslin cloths and cotton wool for washing.
The Birth Plan
We all know how nothing ever goes to plan but it’s nice to have some sort of an idea to work from, so my birth plan is now complete in my official maternity notes. Intending on the midwifery led unit as opposed to the hospital ward, I’m hoping for a water birth. At the very least I’d like to utilise the pool during active labour as pain control but it would be amazing to give birth in the water too. When I’m at home and in the earlier stages I’m going to use my TENS machine, and with the aid of my calming playlists and encouraging affirmations I’ve been collecting and speaking over myself, I’m praying for a super chilled out and controlled labour.
The Baby Shower
To make it all feel even more real, I had a surprise baby shower last week. I wasn’t planning on having one as I don’t particularly like being the centre of attention, but I did enjoy my friends rallying round for a bit of baby focussed fun. Cue me dressing a teddy bear in a nappy while blindfolded and everyone guessing, using a piece of string, what size my baby bump is. So I had a great time! And there were lots of lovely presents to open which is never too hard to enjoy.
Who knows how my birth plan will go, whether I will eat that tin of cold baked beans or if I’ll make it in time to the birthing pool. But what I do know is I’ll be having this baby one way or another! And as much as it’ll be exhausting and a totally new, alien world for me to venture into, it’s going to be an amazing new journey with the addition of ‘baby-boo’ to our household. Thanks so much for the continued love and support – I can’t wait to continue my blogging on a new adventure!
Are you approaching the grand finale of your pregnancy? Have you packed your hospital bags and written your birth plan? Feel super ready for your new arrival or maybe you still feel unprepared and panicked? I’d love to chat in the comments below if, like me, you’re facing the last few exciting weeks of your pregnancy!