© The Anatomical Travelogue
When your baby finally arrives, she'll weigh between six and nine pounds and measure about 20 inches. She'll be cute, of course, but she won't yet resemble the babies you see snuggled in their strollers. If you deliver vaginally, her head may be shaped like a cone after traveling through the narrow birth canal, and she'll emerge covered in blood and amniotic fluid. Her eyes will be puffy, and she'll only be able to see a blurred version of you, as she can only focus about an inch away. But the sound of your voice, which she's gotten used to while inside the womb, will be music to her ears.
Expect to push even after your baby's out; you'll have to deliver the placenta, a comparatively easy feat compared to hard labor. If necessary, you may also get some stitches for an episiotomy or a tear. You may be overwhelmed by contradictory feelings, too -- part elation, part trepidation. But after such a physically and emotionally grueling adventure, laughter and tears are both appropriate. The adventure begins!
Do's and Don'ts
If you're tiring of the wait, try road-testing a few folk remedies -- midwife's approval, of course. Many women claim that taking brisk walks, having lots of sex (the prostaglandin in semen apparently softens the cervix), and drinking raspberry leaf tea will help bring on contractions. Even if they don't work, they'll at least make the wait more interesting.
Expect your baby to be whisked away soon after birth, but not for any worrisome reason. She's just taking her first test: the Apgar. Administered at one minute after birth and again at five minutes, it rates your newborn's heart rate, respiration, muscle tone, reflexes, and color. Plus, nurses will apply antibiotics to her eyes to protect them from germs in the birth canal. They'll also administer her first shots: a vitamin K injection to encourage normal blood clotting and the hepatitis B vaccine to prevent liver infection.