The final weeks of pregnancy

You're in the final stretch: here's how to cope with the last few weeks of pregnancy.

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Well into the final trimester of your pregnancy and feeling as though you’ve been pregnant forever?

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By this stage, most mums-to-be are feeling unwieldy, uncomfortable and desperate to meet that little person they’ve been nurturing for so many months.

Only 3% of babies actually arrive on the due date, and first babies are notorious for being late so try not to focus too much on the D-day itself. You could be surprised by an early arrival or frustrated as your due date comes and goes with no sign of action.

Here’s what to expect in those last few weeks.

Week 36 onwards:

You may experience ‘practice’ contractions known as Braxton Hicks, but may mistake them for labour. If they get longer and closer together, call your midwife.

Use them to practise your labour breathing exercises.

Your boobs may leak, especially when you hear a baby cry.

Can’t stop spring cleaning? It’s probably just the nesting instinct kicking in. Keep away from the stepladder though – and ask your partner to do any climbing or heavy lifting from now on.

16 Pre-baby must-dos…

1 PACK YOUR BAG:

Remember to charge up the batteries in your digital camera/empty the card so there’s room for all your pics. Get yourself a couple of front-opening nightdresses for breastfeeding. A baggy T-shirt or oversized front-buttoning cotton pyjama top are good options for wearing while you give birth. Remember to take nappies, clothes and a blanket for the baby.

2 ADDRESS BOOK:

Update your mobile phone address book, make sure your battery is fully charged, and give your partner important numbers/email addresses of people he needs to contact once you’ve given birth.

3 TAKE IT EASY:

Don’t overdue the preparations – you need to rest and conserve your energy for the labour.

4 FREEZE MEALS:

Try and cook some healthy meals and freeze them. Once your baby’s arrived the last thing you’ll feel like doing is cooking. Stock up on essentials – do an online shop if you can’t face a trip round the supermarket.

5 UNPACK BABY KIT:

Take equipment out of boxes/wrappers and work out how to use it eg steriliser, car seat, pram.

6 FINALISE YOUR BIRTHPLAN:

Make sure you’re happy with your birth plan and talk to your midwife if you have any worries or questions now your due date is approaching fast.

7 GET SOME SLEEP:

These could be the last unbroken nights you’ll have for some time so try and make the most of them – although discomfort and the need to go to the loo in the middle of the night may make that difficult! A milky drink and a warm bath before you go to bed can help relaxation if you’re suffering from insomnia.

8 HAVE A LIE-IN:

It may be many years before you are again able to lounge around in bed all morning. Make the most of it!

9 TREAT YOURSELF:

Enjoy having just yourself to worry about. Get a leg wax, have your hair cut, get a manicure and pedicure, go the cinema, read a book. Go shopping! Go out for dinner with your partner. These are all things that will become a challenge once you have a baby in tow…

10 AGREE ON NAMES:

If you’re still looking for inspiration check out our baby name finder for ideas.

11 EXERCISE:

Don’t overdo it, but gentle exercise until the day your baby is born can help increase your energy levels and ease restless legs. Research shows that women who take regular exercise can have an easier labour.

12 DRINK RASPBERRY LEAF TEA:

Regular cups of this brew are believed to help prepare your body for labour by stimulating your uterus. Start with one cup a day (but not before you reach the last two months of pregnancy) and build up to a maximum of four cups daily.

13 STOCK UP ON MUSLINS:

You cannot have too many of these. Start with at least 10.

14 WASH BABY CLOTHES:

New babies have sensitive skin so make sure all newborn clothes, bed linen, towels and muslins are washed in non-bio detergent.

15 PREPARE BABY’S ROOM:

Make sure you have a room thermometer to ensure it is the right temperature – you don’t want a newborn to be too hot or too cold. Open windows to let the room air, especially if it has recently been decorated. Set up the baby monitor if you are using one.

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16 PRACTISE YOUR HOSPITAL RUN:

Make sure the car has petrol in it and have a practice run to the hospital to ensure you and your partner know the best way to get there, where the car park is and the most direct route to the labour ward.

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