Your unborn baby is almost ready for her big arrival -- and your arms! But the closer her arrival to her due date, the better. Her body is still developing, gaining weight, and maturing. Many of her body systems, such as those involved with digestion, are "practicing" the functions they will provide after birth.
The baby practices expanding and contracting the lungs, but it is only towards the end of the pregnancy when the lungs begin producing surfactant that the lungs are actually able to open up. The lack of surfactant is one of the reasons premature babies experience difficulty breathing after birth.
During the birthing process, the amniotic fluid is pushed out of the baby's lungs. As the baby makes her way through the cervix and squeezes through the vagina, the fluid gets flushed out also. With cesarean section births, the baby doesn't have a chance to naturally expel the fluid, so the medical staff will need to help the infant flush out the amniotic fluid after birth. Usually, C-section-delivered babies don't have any serious respiratory problems as a result, but there is a slightly greater potential for lung concerns. Your baby's physician will monitor her breathing carefully to make sure she's taking in oxygen properly.
Terms to Know
Polyhydramnios: When the womb is filled with too much amniotic fluid. This condition might be a result of the baby not digesting sufficient amounts of amniotic fluid.
Oligohydramnios: When an unborn baby does not have enough amniotic fluid in the womb. This condition may indicate that the baby is not producing and expelling a normal amount of urine.
Important Information About Your Pregnancy
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Images courtesy of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM.org).