Update on November 29, 2012
Finish Healthy & Well
Your body needs for you to be able to sustain a full-term pregnancy. Important changes are happening in the final weeks of pregnancy to prepare the uterus and the opening of the uterus- the cervix- to be ready for the most efficient labor possible. Your baby also moves down in the birth canal and this helps the cervix soften up so labor can go better.
Women who go into labor on their own have higher levels of naturally occurring oxytocin in their brains, which helps labor along. It also causes other chemicals, called endorphins, to be released in the brain, which help you cope with labor. Labor contractions that occur on their own (that is, labor is not started with medications) build up more gradually and you have more of a chance to relax in between contractions, which also helps with coping.
Being born too early can even affect breastfeeding. The brain development that a baby needs to be able to coordinate sucking and swallowing isn't developed until the last few weeks of pregnancy. Being born early could set off a difficult chain reaction: If your baby's sucking and swallowing isn't effective enough, your breasts may not make enough milk. In turn, your baby may need to also be given formula to ensure she gains enough weight, and this in turn disrupts the natural breastfeeding process.
Worst of all, many of these problems could result in you having to leave your baby at the hospital when you are discharged home, which is very distressing for any mom!