Your baby this week
38 weeks pregnant

In the know

An epidural is a regional anesthetic. A small amount of anesthesia is administered through a thin tube (catheter) inserted into your spine. You will also need an IV drip into your arm to push fluids, and so other medications (typically pitocin to give labor a push) can be administered.

Most doctors will require you to be five to six centimeters dilated before receiving an epidural, or else it may stop the contractions. 

Find out more: How long does it take for an epidural to kick in?

Labor epidural

Also: Read more about pain relief in labor!

Pushing it

From Betsy's VBAC birth story:

For the first two contractions, I pushed in a side-lying position, then everything was set up, the room was crowded and the bed was broken down. At last! Everyone was telling me what a good job I was doing. I was in such an irritable frame of mind at this point that I was convinced they were lying to me just to make me keep working. They got the mirror adjusted so I could see how close she was. What an amazing sight to see your baby pushed out like that. It took four contractions and the most physically challenging work I've ever done in my life, but I was incredibly motivated to get it over with.

>>> Pregnancy definition: VBAC 

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

Best positions, please

A reader writes: "What are the most effective ways to position myself when pushing the baby out?"Pregnant woman

Our expert answers: "One of the most common positions for pushing is semi-sitting, with the spine curved like the letter C, and legs pulled up and back. The advantages of this position is that it makes some use of gravity to help the baby descend and it is convenient for the caregiver. On the other hand, it may make it harder for the baby to fit under the pubic bone. Another common position is side-lying. This position does not make use of gravity, but it may decrease chances of a tear or episiotomy, reduce backache and make it easier to relax between contractions. It is also a good position to use if you have high blood pressure or need to slow a very rapid birth."

Click here to read more about different birthing positions you can use.


As your due date approaches you might notice more and more back discomfort. There are specific causes of lower back pain during pregnancy, and treatment will only be effective if the pain is diagnosed correctly and treated appropriately. Some basic things you can do:  Try not to bend from the waist or lean over. Instead, lower your body with bent knees and hips, always keeping your back straight.

If your pain is especially severe, your caregiver may recommend a pain reliever -- but in most cases, however, a combination of stretching, massage, heat, and ice is the preferred treatment.

Click here to find out what you can do about your back pain.

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