Your baby this week
38 weeks pregnant

Get ready now for after

With labor and birth so much on your mind, it might be easy to forget about what the immediate postpartum period will be like. But it's worth being prepared! 

Find out what you need to know here: At the hospital, after baby arrives

Make a note


When labor starts, it's important to time your contractions with a stopwatch or using the second hand on a clock to measure both the duration of the contraction and the amount of time in between contractions. Generally caregivers want to know "how far apart they are" which can mean the time from the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next.

One typical responsibility of the labor coach is to time contractions, especially during early labor. But timing contractions is not always as simple as it sounds! Get some contraction-timing how-tos here.

Put simply

Here are some medical abbreviations you might see on your chart:

  • IBOW -- intact bag of water
  • SROM -- spontaneous rupture of membranes
  • AROM -- artificial rupture of membranes
  • FHT -- fetal heart tones
  • CTX -- contractions
  • BBOW -- bulging bag of water
  • POL -- preterm onset of labor
  • CX -- cervix
  • PROM -- preterm ROM
  • PPROM -- Premature preterm ROM
  • Pit. -- Pitocin
  • EFM -- external fetal monitor
  • VTX -- vertex

message boards

 Want to talk? Meet other expectant moms on the Pregnancy & Baby message boards!

Crib-free families

Some families practice the "family bed" and make do without a crib. Regardless if you plan to sleep with your infant or it just happens to work once you get him or her home, there are some rules to make co-sleeping safe for your baby.

"The most important safety factor to keep in mind while bedsharing is to be alert to what could endanger the baby, and when you enter a bed, and when asleep, keep in your mind the thought 'baby in bed,' just like that little expression on bumpers of cars, 'baby on board,' says James McKenna, director of the University of Notre Dame's Mother and Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory, and renowned expert on co-sleeping.

Click here to learn how to keep co-sleeping safe for your baby.

Fear not

Many women approaching childbirth are fearful of the pain they may experience. Some are also unwilling or unable to take medication to ease the pain. A study offers hope for those seeking to lessen delivery pain without medications. How do they do it? Through the use of music.


Soft music decreased both sensation and distress of active labor pain in the first three hours and delayed increases in the distress of pain for an hour. For some participants, relief was fairly substantial, and the researcher found that it can reduce the laboring mother's perception of pain and also her distress.

Better pain management may speed recovery from childbirth and improve the mother-infant relationship -- find out how right here (plus see some music picks), and get ideas about more labor coping techniques here.

Photo galleries