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The Home Stretch

Baby Yourself

Fatigue is perhaps the number one complaint now. Not only are you lugging around an extra 20 to 30 pounds, but your expanding uterus rearranges other organs. A compressed bladder means more frequent urination -- so much for a solid eight hours of sleep. A squeezed diaphragm and lungs can cause shortness of breath. Backaches occur when the growing baby throws off your posture. Exacerbating the strain is the hormone relaxin, which loosens joints in anticipation of delivery. "I noticed that my ankles, knees, and hips started to click a little when I walked," says Mary Niepokuj, of West Point, Indiana, whose first child was born 13 months ago. "I felt like the Tin Man in need of some oil."

Most of these physical changes disappear right after you deliver. For now, rest and pamper yourself. "Try not to be a supermom even before you're a mom," says LouAnne Case, a certified nurse-midwife at Oakland/Macomb Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Shelby Township, Michigan. It's okay to not do everything yourself. Ask your partner, family, and friends for help. If someone offers to lift something for you, let him. Lying down frequently, especially on your left side, also relieves swelling, another side effect of late pregnancy. Don't limit fluids to try to minimize puffiness; your body will respond by hanging on to them even more. You can also ease swollen ankles and legs by sitting with your feet elevated and not standing for long periods. There's another incentive to baby yourself now: You never know when you'll go into labor and really need your energy!

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