- Weighs over four pounds and is 17 inches long.
- The skeleton is hardening, except for the skull, which will remain soft and flexible to allow it to fit through the birth canal, and also to grow and allow adequate space for your baby’s enormously brilliant brain.
- Kicks and movements are practically visible from space now, and you may look down and realize that your belly is no longer round, but pointed, as a knee or elbow stretches out for a few seconds before disappearing beneath the surface again.
- Are big. Yes. And the whole world may suddenly seem like it’s got an opinion about when you’ll go into labor, and it TOTALLY DOESN’T CARE that you aren’t even full-term yet, it thinks you’ve dropped and popped and are going to give birth in like, two weeks. Tell it to shut the hell up with my blessings.
- May be waddling more than walking, and misjudging your circumference as you bump into counters and knock things over on tables.
- A lot of pregnant women start having strange dreams about those pronounced movements — legs and arms stretching out from under your clothes, or the perfect imprint of your baby’s face suddenly appearing next to your belly button. If these dreams creep you out, just remember that it’s your mind starting to wrap itself around the concept that there is, in fact, a actual baby in there rather than some hypothetical concept of a baby.
Packing for the Hospital
OKAY. FINE. HOSPITAL BAG PACKING TIME.
People have been begging for this one, and while I intended to save it until the week that I, you know, actually packed my hospital bag, apparently a whole lot of you prefer to be proactive and pack it super early. Or else you just plan to obsess about it for five or six more weeks. (That I kind of actually relate to.)
If you’re looking for a REALLY COMPREHENSIVE list — a list that was written for the people, by the people — look no further than this one, compiled by Emily at not that you asked… She asked for hospital bag packing tips from her readers, and OH, BUT THEY HAD TIPS. Lots and lots of tips. The resulting list is…long. Yes. And it would require quite a large suitcase to bring EVERYTHING there, but you should still definitely print that list out, read Emily’s comments and reasoning for each item, and winnow your own priorities and list down from there.
That said, I also have My Own Opinions I Must Subject You To. It’s in my contract. The one in my head. I take it very seriously.
STUFF I BROUGHT TO THE HOSPITAL THAT I COULDN’T HAVE LIVED WITHOUT
- Tennis ball for back massage during labor
- Socks/slippers and a bathrobe. None of which made it home with me, thanks to The Grossness, but I was sooo glad to have them.
- Fourteen million hair clips and rubber bands
- Shampoo, face soap, deodorant, body lotion and makeup
- Nursing pillow
- Nipple cream
- Camera, video camera, extra batteries and/or charging cord for both.
- Cell phone
- Super-stretchy non-abdomen-pinchy maternity clothes for wearing home
STUFF I BROUGHT TO THE HOSPITAL THAT I SHOULD HAVE LEFT AT HOME
- Books, magazines, blank thank-you cards, journal, Soduku puzzles. My brain was SO FRIED in the aftermath and I was unable to concentrate on anything, including Us Weekly. I spent my downtime staring into space or sleeping instead.
- My own nightgown. Again, The Grossness. You simply would not believe. I would rather befoul a dozen hospital gowns than my own clothing, no matter how old and junky it is. At least it was easy to call the nurse and request my fourth new gown in two hours — I would have worn my own gown for 45 minutes before balling it up and hiding it in my room’s wastebasket, or sending it home with instructions to Burn It And Never Speak Of This Again.
- My own underwear and pads. Ditto.
- Snacks. We made a special trip out for snacks. I was sure Jason would need snacks. Everyone tells you that your partner needs snacks! So we ended up with an entire plastic grocery bag of snacks that ended up mostly uneaten, save for maybe one granola bar. Jason lost his appetite during my labor (HA HA), and since I was put on a liquid diet after my emergency c-section, I would have cried if he’d eaten in front of me, so he went out for quick meals at nearby fast-casual restaurants instead. Sure, he lost 10 pounds during my four-day hospital stay, but it was mostly sympathy pregnancy weight that had to go anyway.
- Nursing bra and breast pads. My milk didn’t come in during my hospital stay. Better safe than sorry, I suppose, but I wish someone had told me that was actually even a possibility.
THINGS I DID NOT BRING TO THE HOSPITAL LAST TIME BUT WOULD HAVE KILLED FOR (aka Stuff I’m Bringing This Time, Yippee!)
- Towels. I was so very excited about my first post-birth shower. I felt so gross and oily and dirty and…what the hell? All my hospital would offer me was ONE small, thin, scraggly-looking hand towel and a washcloth. No full-size towels. Useless. Yuck.
- My own pillow. Hospital pillows are uncomfortable and flat. And I’m pretty sure I can keep a pillow clear of The Grossness. (I will probably bring it but leave it in the car until fully assessing the Pillow Situation and then demand it if I need it.)
- Laptop. My hospital has wifi now! Maybe my brain will at least be capable of reading Us Magazine ONLINE.
- Dry shampoo/baby powder. For making my oil-slick-head vaguely presentable before I’m allowed to take a shower.
- Probiotic powder. This is mostly a c-section necessity — you’re given a round of antibiotics afterwards and this can increase your chances of getting a thrush/yeast infection from nursing.
- Pacifier. I KNOW. Bad. Wrong. Nipple confusion, despair, woe, etc. I let my baby nurse and suck on me for hours and hours on end, even when my boobs were bone dry. I cracked and bled and almost quit nursing then and there. I’m giving myself permission to at least THINK about offering a pacifier instead of my nipple this time.
- Sleep mask. Stupid lights and sunshine and whatever, I need mah SLEEP.
Another thing to consider bringing to the hospital? EXTRA SPACE IN YOUR BAG. You’ll want to thoroughly ransack your room before you leave. I cannot stress this enough. Take everything. Diapers, wipes, nasal aspirators, plastic bins first-aid items, sanitary pads, mesh panties, bed pads, nipple creams, WHATEVER ISN’T NAILED DOWN. My nurse awesomely helped shove everything into a bag for me, explaining that my insurance technically paid for all this stuff already, and that they weren’t allowed to reuse any of it for other patients. So take it! Take it all! It’s swag! Only more…sterile.
Finished with the Pregnancy Calendar and want more? Visit Amalah’s postpartum weekly column, Bounce Back. Bounce Back is about the postpartum experience — the good, the bad and the gory.