Your first pregnancy usually comes with a healthy dose of anxiety and fear of the unknown - which is normal. You've probably already gathered a collection of books about pregnancy and what to expect, but here are a few facts you might have missed:
Pregnancy and Labor
1. Your baby's heart protrudes from their body
Your baby's heart starts beating in week six, and it protrudes from the body just under the embryonic head. In week nine the fetus can finally reach their hands over the heart area, according to Sure Baby.
2. Expect swelling
Swelling can happen during any trimester, but it is usually noticeable starting in month five, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Control swelling by avoiding standing for long periods of time, resting with your feet elevated, wearing comfortable shoes and drinking plenty of water.
3. You might have a bowel movement during labor
This can occur while pushing the baby out, according to Robin Elise Weiss, PhD. It sounds gross, but don't worry, the doctors and nurses are used to it.
4. Labor isn't over when the baby is born
You aren't finished yet! The birth is followed by the delivery of the placenta. This process usually takes between five and 30 minutes, according to Mayo Clinic. Your uterus will then contract as it shrinks down to its normal size.
5. You probably won't give birth on your due date
Only four percent of women give birth on their due date, according to the Perinatal Institute. In fact, the majority of women give birth between 37 and 42 weeks. A full-term pregnancy (between 39 and 40 weeks) leads to the healthiest outcomes compared to babies born before or after this time frame, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
After the Birth
6. Delaying umbilical cord clamping has benefits
According to the ACOG, delaying clamping has benefits such as better providing red cell volume, decreasing the need for a blood transfusion and increasing hemoglobin levels at birth (which transports oxygen in the blood).
ACOG recommends delaying clamping for 30 to 60 seconds following birth.
7. Baby's first steps can happen anywhere between nine and 16 months
Don't be alarmed if your baby isn't walking as early as your neighbor's baby. Parents might become concerned if their child doesn't start walking by one year, but facts show that only 50 percent of babies are walking by their first birthday.
8. Interaction is vital
Babies love to interact. In the Still Face Experiment, Dr. Edward Tronick found that when an adult was with a baby but did not interact with them for three minutes, the infant began to cry and then turned their body away to withdraw and isolate. This result was repeated with each attempt. Your baby is in a critical stage of development; encourage interaction, relationships and emotions by playing with your child and paying attention to their emotions. Spend time reading and talking to your baby.
9. Babies love contrasting objects
Babies enjoy seeing contrasting patterns and colors, according to Pediatric Services. To keep your baby engaged, try hanging up contrasting photos on the wall of their nursery or giving them toys with contrasting designs and hues.
10. Set aside face time
Infants love looking at faces. In a study by the National Academy of Sciences, babies preferred to view a normal face compared to disassembled facial features. They also enjoy direct gaze, according to the study. At this stage in their life, face to face interaction and response is one of the most important ways you can engage with your baby.
There's a lot to know when it comes to pregnancy, labor, delivery and raising a child, but don't worry. There are always friends and family you can reach out to who have done this before and can help you along the way.