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Your baby is due this week, and if you're lucky he will actually arrive this week! Soon you'll feel your first real contractions. They'll come fast and furious once you're in active labor -- lasting up to a minute each, or even a bit longer -- and yes, they huuuurt. You'll feel this intense pain radiating through your stomach, lower back and upper thighs. This is like nothing you've ever felt before -- and each woman copes with it differently. Now's the time when pain-relieving epidurals are usually administered, so don't be afraid to ask for one. While your baby gets the once-over, you'll be busy delivering the placenta -- the 2-pound, bluish mass of blood vessels and tissues that has nourished and protected your infant over the past nine months. Although you may continue to feel contractions, most new moms are too blissed out -- "I did it! He's here, he's healthy, he's gorgeous!" -- to notice them.
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