As you are approaching the end of your pregnancy by week 32, labour and delivery are likely to be weighing heavily on your mind. Anxiety about what labour will be like is not unusual, even for those women who have attended regular birth classes, written extensive birth plans, and packed their hospital bag (a number of times!). Whilst it is perfectly normal to be anxious over an event as big and (in the case of first time mothers) unprecedented as giving birth, there are steps you can take to reduce your anxiety levels.
By week 32 of pregnancy, it will probably have been some time since you last saw your feet whilst standing up. You might have gained as much as 12.5 KG in weight, you might be having trouble sleeping, and you might find that you have niggling aches and pains throughout the day. Anxiety about labour is probably the last thing you want to deal with on top of a multitude of physical complaints. Unfortunately, though, emotional symptoms are every bit as prevalent as physical ones during this stage of pregnancy and can be quite difficult to manage.
Information can be the best antidote to anxiety. In general, labour and birth anxiety fears fall into a few categories:
- Pain. This is one of the most common fears facing expectant mothers. It doesn’t matter if you are a Lamaze convert, hoping to deep-breathe your way through the delivery, or you plan to request an immediate epidural, the fear of being in pain can still impact heavily on your wellbeing during the last few weeks of pregnancy. The good news is that there are a lot of ways your healthcare provider can help you deal with the pain of childbirth, and preparation (mental and physical) over the weeks leading up to your due date can be one way of reducing your anxiety.
- Embarrassment. There is no doubt that giving birth is an intimate process. Even in a room full of people who are there to offer complete support, it is not uncommon for labouring women to worry about untimely bowel movements, particularly with all that pushing. Some women worry that they will not be able to manage the pain and others are scared of losing control in front of people they do not know very well. Whilst all these factors may seem like a big deal to you, the truth is that nobody else in the room will care, or notice. Your birthing partner(s) will be more concerned with supporting you through it and any healthcare professionals will have seen it all (and far worse!) before.
- Complications. Birth is messy and can sometimes be a drawn-out, and highly medical process, even for those that wanted a natural experience. Many mothers-to-be worry about all the things that might go wrong, for example, having to deviate from a carefully constructed birth plan, to needing an emergency C-section. Whilst, at week 32, it is impossible to predict how your eventual delivery will proceed, try to take comfort from the fact that the vast majority of births result in both a healthy mama and a healthy baby. Ensure that you have a good relationship with your healthcare provider and that you trust them fully to help you make the best decisions, throughout your pregnancy, labour and delivery.
Overall, the key to dealing with any of these anxieties is to maintain good communication with your support team, which can include your partner, members of your family, friends, and your medical team. Surround yourself with people who support you and want to help, and try to avoid listening to too many birth horror stories.
Your baby’s foetal age is now 30 weeks and he or she might weigh as much as 1.6 KG. They will probably measure more than 45cm from the top of their head to the tips of their toes. This is actually likely to be very close to the length he or she will measure when born. From week 32 onwards, although your baby will still be gaining weight rapidly, most of the growth will involve getting rounder, rather than longer.
One of the interesting things that happens late in pregnancy is the gradual emergence of your baby’s personality. As their nervous system and brain have continued to develop, he or she is likely to have developed certain patterns and preferences that can remain in place for life. Maybe they are more active at night or have an unusually high activity level. Perhaps they are already sucking their thumb, or they like to pedal their feet. They might already like certain flavours and dislike others. Amazingly, when you talk to parents of older children, they can often recognise habits or preferences in their children that started before birth.
“One way to conquer the unknown is to take a good childbirth preparation class.”
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