All About Baby
At 35 weeks, your baby is considered full-term and she looks developed, however, The March of Dimes considers babies born up to 36 weeks as “late preterm.” Babies born before 38 weeks are at a higher risk for feeding difficulty and other issues. It is important for you and your baby to be monitored closely by your pediatrician and/or lactation consultant. The soft, fuzzy hairs that once covered her body begin to disappear. She continues to add fat layers, which will help her stay warm once she’s out of the womb. During these last weeks, your baby has developed sleeping patterns (and they often have little to do with night and day!)
All About You
You’ll be visiting the doctor more frequently now and should be tested for Group B strep soon. You may also have non-stress tests and manual checks for cervical effacement (thinning) and dilation.
What will happen after baby is born? Plan for support—perhaps hire a doula, or enlist a friend or family member to help you and your partner cook, clean, and tend to your recovery in the initial few days. Begin stocking the freezer with food and catch up on your sleep. You’re going to need it!
As your baby-to-be keeps growing, you may find even your maternity clothes fit tightly. Clothes aren’t the only things getting tighter—your body’s internal organs are running out of room, too. You’ll have to take more breaths since your lungs have less space. Plan on smaller, more frequent meals too, since your stomach doesn’t have room to expand. Remember, only a few more weeks to go! You may notice a tightening of your abdomen at times, especially if you’ve been on your feet all day. These false contractions, called Braxton Hicks, are normal.
Breast milk provides your baby with the perfect food. Not only is breast milk filled with all your baby’s nutritional needs such as disease-fighting antibodies, but it also comes at the ideal temperature and there’s no measuring required. But just because breast milk is best for your baby, doesn’t mean you or your baby will know how to nurse at first.
“Women should understand that breastfeeding is work,” says Dr. Joanne Motino Bailey, PhD, and a certified nurse midwife. “Just because the body is made to [breastfeed] doesn’t mean it doesn’t involve some practice.”
Babies and nursing: Babies love to suck. This sucking reflex is so strong that even if your baby’s not hungry, you’ll notice her smacking her lips. Before long you’ll learn when your baby is sucking for practice and when she’s ready to eat.
It will take you a few days to get into a feeding rhythm with your baby. Expect to feed him every two to three hours since your baby digests breast milk easily.
Preparing your body for nursing: Before your baby arrives, talk to your healthcare provider about your desire to nurse. Your provider can examine your breasts to make sure you’re ready. Some women have flat or inverted nipples that can be difficult for the baby to suck, but with some guidance, your provider can help you overcome these problems.
Your body readies itself for nursing by increasing the amount of breast tissue throughout your pregnancy. This tissue houses the milk production factory your body becomes to feed your baby. You’ll notice your breasts leaking, especially in the last few weeks. This clear to whitish fluid, called colostrum, or foremilk, is packed with antibodies and will provide your baby with nourishment for the first few days of his life until your milk comes in.
Getting started: Most hospitals have a lactation consultant on staff who can guide you through nursing. If you hope to breastfeed, a lactation consultant can help you get on track so you and Baby nurse soon after birth. Breastfeeding doesn’t always go according to plan, though. Some women experience troubles (such as engorgement, infection, or nipple irritation) and some just can’t seem to get it to work. Know that if you do have troubles nursing, it isn’t your fault and you’re not alone.
During nursing, your nipple and areola (the pigmented circle around the nipple) should be inside your baby’s mouth. If your baby only sucks on the end of your nipple, your nipple will quickly become sore and nursing will be painful. At first getting this much of your breast into your newborn’s mouth may seem awkward, but with practice both you and your baby will become pros.
There are several ways to hold your infant while she’s feeding, including the classic cradle hold where her head rests at the crook of your elbow for support and her body is turned toward you. Your lactation consultant can explain several other positions until you find what’s most comfortable to you.
Dr. Bailey suggests expectant women take a breastfeeding class before delivery day. If you have any questions about nursing, ask your healthcare provider or call your hospital’s lactation consultant.
Q & A
What’s on your mind about Week 35? Other women have asked…
Q: Can I nurse if my nipples are inverted?
Yes, you should be able to breastfeed. In some cases it may require a bit of work and assistance from a lactation consultant, but it can be done! In my career as a nurse and lactation consultant, I have seen many variations of breasts and nipples. Luckily, there are many tricks and tools we have to help moms whose nipples are inverted. Read more about inverted nipples and breastfeeding.
Q: I’m scared of labor pains — what can I do?
When you first arrive at the hospital and your nurse is interviewing you, this is when you can communicate with her what you think you might want for pain relief. If you have already decided that you want an epidural you can let her know and she will help you with the timing of it all. Read more about feeling scared of labor.
Q: My belly is hard all over. Is that normal?
Probably just Braxton Hicks contractions, but I’d let your doctor know immediately. Everyone feels labor differently, and a constant hardness could be a sign of problems with the placenta separating. Read more about Braxton Hicks contractions.
Preparing Your Children for a New Baby
Having a baby is an experience like no other. No matter if this is your first child or an addition to your growing family, there are several things you can do to help your family prepare for the new arrival.
When broaching the subject of the baby-to-be, you don’t need to dwell on what a new baby will mean to your family. What you should do, however, is be honest and create an environment where your older children feel comfortable to talk and share their concerns and anxieties about having a newborn in the house.
When younger children find out about the arrival of a new sibling, they will sometimes question your love for them during the pregnancy or wonder if you’ll still be their parents, too. One way to help younger children adjust is to give them a doll or stuffed animal they can care for. Talk with them about all that they are doing for their new “baby”. Help them understand they’ll be an integral part of not only the family, but in helping the family’s new baby feel special and welcome in your family. Remind soon-to-be siblings that they can do a lot for the coming baby, whether it is handing you a diaper when Baby needs to be changed or sharing a hug when Baby is crying.
After a new sibling is born, be sure to tell your child often that you love him and that you know that a lot has changed. Make it clear that what hasn’t changed is how you feel about him. Every minute you stop to tussle his hair or tickle him is a reminder that he is just as important to you as he was before the birth of his sibling.
Set aside time both now and after Baby’s arrival with your older children. It is essential for your kids, but also for you—it reminds you that you’ve done this before (and you’ve done a pretty good job so far!).