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3rd trimester: Week 36

Your Baby

Your baby weighs approximately five pounds and her full length is about 18 inches. She continues to put on fat, which will keep her warm and help her regulate her body temperature when she's born.

Your Body

This last month of pregnancy is a dress rehearsal for the big event. You'll lose your mucous plug, a protective barrier that's been present in your cervix throughout the pregnancy, and your cervix will soften and maybe even dilate. Although both are signs that early labor is under way, don't rush off to the hospital or birthing center just yet -- you may be weeks away from the actual birth.

Do's and Don'ts

Before you dive into a prebaby cleaning frenzy, read the labels on all chemicals and cleansers to make sure they're safe. Wear rubber gloves when handling liquid cleansers, and work in a well-ventilated room to reduce exposure to fumes. Better yet, ask your partner to provide the brawn while you direct.

Health

If varicose veins are running up and down your legs, seek some support -- support hose, that is. It also helps to avoid crossing your legs and standing up for too long.

Mom to Mom

"Bring along plenty of your favorite brand of sanitary pad: The hospital pads can be expensive and uncomfortable."--Theresa Campbell, Goodlettsville, TN

Shopping

Consider buying or renting a breast pump before you give birth so you have it handy in case you need it after the delivery. Ask experienced nursing moms or a lactation consultant for a good recommendation. You may also want to purchase a few nursing bras, one of which you should pack for the hospital. Practice unfastening the breast flaps with one hand (the other hand will be holding the baby).

Exercise

If it's becoming more difficult for you to go to the gym, stay home and stretch. Sit on the floor with your left leg out to the side, your right leg bent. Raise your right arm over your head as if reaching to the sky, and make a big arc as you lean over your left leg and try to touch your left foot. Bring your arm back to the original position and repeat on the other side.

Relationships

After the delivery, send your doctor or midwife a thank-you card to let her know you appreciate all the help she's given you. Remember to include a picture of your baby.

Siblings

As the due date draws near, avoid making significant changes in your child's routine, such as starting toilet training. He's got enough to deal with already.

Twins

Many mothers of twins deliver by cesarean section, so ask your doctor about what to expect during surgery so you're prepared. Be sure to discuss the recovery period, which is usually more difficult than after a vaginal birth and may include, apart from the usual bleeding and fatigue, pain at the incision, severe gas, and anemia.

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