Your baby this week
40 weeks pregnant

40 weeks fetal developmentAny day now...

Yep, your baby will be here any time now! Term babies are usually about 20 inches long (about 14 inches from head to rump) and, on average, weigh about 7-1/2 pounds.

Craving the pain

I never thought I'd be so happy to be in pain! Last night and all today I have cramps in my tummy and my back...I had none up until now. I'm so happy! Makes me feel like I'm getting some progress! Bring on more pain!

- Kathy, six days before her due date

In the know

You may be wondering about things that can happen during labor. For example, will you need an episiotomy? This is an incision made during the pushing stage of childbirth to the perineum, the muscle between the vagina and rectum, to widen the vaginal opening for delivery. The name is derived from Greek: episios -- vulvar region, and otomy -- to cut. (Pronounced up-PEAS-ee-ought-um-me.) Some doctors prefer to cut rather than to let you tear naturally, while others feel the opposite -- talk to your caregiver.

You can try to prepare the perineum for the stretching by doing perineal massage, both before and during labor. But if your healthcare provider feels an episiotomy is necessary (such as if the baby has a large head, if the baby needs to come out quickly because it's in distress, or if forceps are needed), there are "degrees" of an episiotomy, based upon the depth of the cut.

grumpy mature woman grandmotherExpert advice

A reader writes: "How do I tell my mother-in-law that I don't want her at my birth? We get along well -- I just consider this a private event."

Our expert answers: "I second that! Some people don't mind if family and friends gather round to see the big event. Personally, I wouldn't want others to see me in that position... literally. First, find out the hospital policy. Many hospitals do not allow more than one person in the birthing room at a time. If this is the case, you would naturally want your husband to be in the room with you. If the hospital does not have a policy, have a conversation with your spouse, and then sit down with your mother-in-law. Let her know that although you understand her desire to be in the room during the birth of her grandchild, you have both decided that you would feel more comfortable if no family was in the room. Read on here!

Button up!

Just after birth, your baby’s umbilical cord will be cut and clamped close to his body. It originally looks grayish, but as the days pass, it turns brown -- and almost looks like a little beetle stuck to your baby’s belly. When will it be gone already?!

"The umbilical cord stump can fall off as early as three days and as late as two months,” says pediatrician Bryan Sibley, MD, FAAP, medical director of Beacon Health, Ltd.-Westchase in Houston. But, he notes, as long as the area does not become infected or become a source of bleeding, the timing really is not a medical issue. “Typically, if the cord has not fallen off by two months old, it can be removed in the pediatrician's office. This procedure is more a service for parents than a medical treatment."

So hold on: Soon enough, you will be able to bathe your baby, put on diapers without folding down the top, and kiss that gorgeous little belly button.

Looking ahead: Homemade baby food

homemade baby food peasYou can make your own baby food right in your kitchen. It's delicious, economical and simple. Homemade baby food is not only delicious and economical, it is simple to prepare as well. Being able to control the ingredients, choosing organic produce and meats, and combining favorite foods are some of the hidden benefits to making baby food at home.

While there are entire books on the subject, the process is relatively easy. Vegetables should be steamed, fruits should be simmered and meat should be poached. The food is then blended in a food mill or food processor and refrigerated or frozen. Baby food can be made in batches small enough to last a few days and stored in the refrigerator or larger batches can be made and frozen for two months. Click here for some quick tips.

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