Your baby this week
40 weeks pregnant

In the know

Peri bottles

If you do end up with an episiotomy or a tear after a vaginal birth, you will be stitched up -- probably with absorbable sutures, which fortunately do not need to be removed. How long the repair will take varies depending on the degree of injury, but generally ranges from around 5 to 20 minutes. 

You will also immediately be given a "peri bottle" -- a small plastic squeeze bottle (officially called a Perineal Irrigation Bottle) that you can fill with warm water and squeeze to clean the area each time you go to the bathroom. It's actually super-soothing! Add a little witch hazel to the water for a healing bonus.

You will want to keep using the peri bottle after care for at least a week after delivery, or until you have healed considerably. Or, you may decide that it feels so nice, you don't want to give it up at all!

For more soothing relief down there, sitz baths and witch hazel compresses are also recommended.


Baby contortionist?

Pregnant woman

Women having their first babies often run into problems caused by a malpositioned baby. Malpositions can include posterior positions (back of baby's head toward mother's back), a deflexed head (baby's head lifted instead of flexed onto her chest) or asynclitic (crooked) head -- but since posterior babies are most common, we often call all malpositioned babies "posterior."

Posterior babies can cause a multitude of labor problems for women having their first babies, including postdate pregnancy (going overdue), rupture of membranes with no labor, a labor that is more painful than normal, a prolonged latent phase, slow progress in active labor, arrest of progress, and a prolonged second stage.

Fortunately, a pregnant woman can do much to influence her baby's position. The third trimester is the best time to get the baby into a good position, since avoiding problems is easier than fixing them.

Click here to learn how to try to alter your baby's position.


Go for gum

When heartburn -- generally associated with regurgitation of acid-peptic gastric juice into the esophagus -- catches you off-guard and without antacids or medications, try reaching for a stick of gum.

Plain-old gum could provide temporary relief, says Dr Stuart Spechler, professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and a heartburn expert. Chewing gum stimulates swallowing and the secretion of alkaline saliva," Spechler says. "Swallowing helps to clear acid from the esophagus, and the alkaline saliva can neutralize acid that remains in the esophagus after swallowing." Read more here.


Brown, blue or hazel?

Baby eyes

Melanin, the same pigment that makes skin tan in the sun, is also is responsible for the linea nigra (the line some women get on their bellies during pregnancy). Surprisingly enough, melanin -- or the absence thereof -- is also what determines your eye color! People with blue eyes have the least amount of melanin, and the darkest brown eyes have the most. (Hazel and green fall somewhere in between.)

Melanin production in the eyes is controlled by genetics, not sun exposure. While many babies seem to be born with bluish-gray eyes, their true eye color will usually stabilize at around six months of age.


Some pregnancy weirdness

Ruth in Illinois found that pregnancy changed her lovely soprano voice. "When I was pregnant with William, my voice got very dark and mezzo-soprano-ish -- think Wagnerian opera diva with horned helmet. My voice teacher and I were convinced it was a boy, because of whatever extra testosterone was coursing through my veins."

Why did this happen? Testosterone thickens the vocal cords, which can produce the darker sound.

Her second pregnancy offered something different. "When I was pregnant with Ellen, my high notes became lovely and ringing, with none of the darkness from the previous pregnancy. My voice teacher and I were sure it was a girl. I remember telling my OB about our prediction just after Ellen was born, and it was the first she'd ever heard of such a theory."

Read more here about some of the more unusual happenings of pregnancy!