As you count down the final weeks and prepare for your baby’s arrival, here’s all you need to know about making a birth plan, packing your hospital bag and watching out for the first signs of labour.
28 weeks pregnant: midwife appointment
Now that you’re in your third trimester, you’ll be seeing your midwife or doctor a lot more often. At every appointment, your midwife will do a number of routine checks to make sure that both you and your baby are doing well and that you aren’t at risk of developing pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes or other pregnancy health conditions.
At your 28-week appointment, your midwife will take a blood test to check if you’re anaemic, and you’ll be offered an anti-D injection if you have RhD negative blood.
Many women start to experience new symptoms in the third trimester, so the appointments are a great opportunity to ask your midwife for advice on dealing with the less amazing aspects of pregnancy (yes, heartburn and pelvic girdle pain – we’re looking at you!).
Make the most of your antenatal appointments with our seven quick tips on how to talk to your midwife.
30 weeks pregnant: kicks count
Feeling your baby kick, punch, roll around, and any other acrobatic moves you can imagine is probably a very familiar feeling to you by now.
It’s a good idea to make a note of your baby’s pattern of movements so that you notice if this changes too much. In particular, get in touch with your midwife or triage at your maternity unit if your baby is moving a lot less than usual. It’s always better to get some reassurance than spend too long worrying about whether to call someone or not.
Chances are everything is fine, but your midwife may want you to go in for a check so they can monitor your baby’s heartbeat and movements. You can bring your birth partner or another family member or friend with you for support.
Around this week, you’ll be having a routine midwife appointment if you’re expecting your first baby. As a first-time mum, you’ll have a few extra check-ups during your pregnancy, compared to women who have given birth before, to make sure that everything is progressing as expected.
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32 weeks pregnant: packing your hospital bag
With just two months until your due date, you may start to feel like the birth is right around the corner.
If you haven’t yet decided where you’d like to give birth, don’t worry. You can change your mind about where you want to have your baby at any point during your pregnancy, but making the choice in advance can help you prepare for the birth.
You can use our Birth Choice tool to find local birth centres and maternity units that are the best fit for you. Interested in a home birth? The tool will also tell you how to arrange one. If you have any further questions about the maternity options where you live, check in with your midwife or doctor.
Wherever you’re planning to give birth, it’s a good idea to put a few essentials together in a hospital bag and to start planning your route and journey time to the birth centre or hospital so you’re prepared whatever may come. And anyway, packing and organising a bag is great use of that nesting instinct!
34 weeks pregnant: writing a birth plan
At this week’s appointment, your midwife might go through your thoughts on the birth with you. It is the perfect opportunity to ask any questions you or your partner have around the different stages of labour and when to go to the hospital or birth centre, or call your home birth midwife.
It’s useful to prepare for this talk, for example by reading up on your pain relief options during labour, as what you may want to use, and why, is a very personal decision.
Learning about the pros and cons of epidurals and opiods can help you decide if you think either of them are the right choice for you, and knowing how to use a TENS machine or water in labour can help you make the most of natural pain relief methods.
What is it really like to give birth? Watch our videos where nine mums talk about their experiences.
36 weeks pregnant: final preparations
In just one short week, your baby will be considered full term – another milestone for you both! However, you probably don’t need to be told that your baby is getting ready to be born. She or he is running out of space in there, which is likely to make you feel quite uncomfortable at this point.
As long as everything has been going well with your pregnancy, birth centres and home birth teams are usually happy to look after you from your 37th week if you go into labour. You can check the criteria for your local birth centre here.
If your baby is in the breech position when your midwife has a feel of your bump at this week’s appointment, they will offer to try to turn the baby around to head down position (this is done at the hospital). If you don’t want to try to turn the baby, or if it’s not successful, your midwife or doctor can explain your options for giving birth to your breeched baby vaginally or by a c-section.
Remember that your midwife can advise you on everything from the vitamin K injection for your newborn baby to postnatal depression or establishing breastfeeding, so don’t be afraid to ask any questions you might have as your pregnancy is drawing to an end.
38 weeks pregnant: induction and elective c-section
This is it – your baby is ready to be born and labour could start at any point in the next few weeks. You’ll have another midwife appointment this week (possibly your last) and it’s the perfect time to ask any last-minute birth questions you may have.
Elective c-sections are often planned for the 38th or 39th week of pregnancy, so if you know you’re having a section, you probably already have an idea of which day you’re going to lock eyes with your baby for the very first time.
Now’s the time to make sure you have everything you’re going to need for the birth, including your hospital bag, wherever you plan to give birth, and a baby car seat if you’re going to go home by car. The last thing you need with a newborn baby is to be scrambling around in a hospital car park trying to fix a car seat into place.
40 weeks pregnant: after your due date
Is your due date here but your baby isn’t? You may feel both disappointed and fed up if you’re still pregnant at this point, but just as many women go into labour after their due date as before, so hang on in there – you’ll soon meet your baby!
You’ll have a midwife appointment this week if this is your first baby, and another one at 41 weeks if your baby hasn’t arrived by then. Your midwife may offer to do a membrane sweep to see if that will get your labour started – it’s up to you whether this is something you want to have done.
Your midwife, or doctor, will also explain your options if you don’t go into labour spontaneously by 42 weeks, when you will be considered overdue. Most women choose to be induced at a hospital, but you can also opt to have increased monitoring of your baby’s health instead. Either way, you will be able to talk you through the pros and cons of each option to make the best decision for you.
Whenever and however your baby makes an appearance, the moment you meet them for the first time will be special.
After the birth: Life with your new baby
The birth is the beginning of your new life together with your baby, and you’re bound to experience a range of emotions in the early days and weeks as you’re recovering and bonding with your newborn.
You’ll have midwife appointments after the birth, to make sure your baby’s doing well and that you are recovering physically as well as coping emotionally. Remember to ask any questions you may have, whether that’s around your recovery after a vaginal birth, what to expect after a c-section, or anything about your baby’s early development.
You may find that feeding your baby is a breeze, but you’re equally likely to find it a bit of a struggle to get started with breastfeeding. Make sure you have access to all the right breastfeeding support to help you at this time – nobody is expecting you to be an expert.
Above all, be kind to yourself, leave the housework to your partner (especially if they’re taking paternity leave) or any other friend or family member who offers to help, and enjoy all those new baby cuddles.