Congratulations — your baby is all grown now and ready to meet you! Here's everything you need to know leading up to labor.
fetal development
Credit: SebastianKaulitzki/

Your baby is due this week! By now you've probably been experiencing some contractions off and on for the past few weeks. These Braxton Hicks, or "practice" contractions, might not have led to a trip to the hospital, but before long you will have contractions that just won't go away — when you try to relax, they grow stronger. You're ready to have your baby!

Most likely you will not be receiving an ultrasound during labor. But if you could sneak a peek at your baby's final moments before birth, you'd see that her head is down toward your pelvis (if she's not in the bottom down or breech presentation, in which case your health care provider might suggest a cesarean section). Your baby's body will either be straight up and down, called longitudinal, or her body might be positioned at an angle, called oblique. Along with spying your baby's body position, if you could see her head, you'd notice that she's head-down, facing your spine, which is the most common position (called anterior presentation). But sometimes, babies present head-down but facing toward your abdomen. This is called occiput or cephalic posterior. Your baby might lean slightly to one side or the other, meaning that she is either "right" or "left" anterior, "right" or "left" posterior.

The easiest position for birth is anterior since the baby's spine is following the curve of your belly and going through the vagina before entering the world and drawing in her first breaths. With a posterior position in birth, the baby's spine is rubbing against your spine, so you will experience more back pain.

No matter your baby's position, soon you will finally meet this little person who has been growing inside you for the past 40 weeks. You'll no longer have to wonder if she has your eyes or your grandfather's ears, or guess at her features through carefully looking at ultrasound images. She'll be in your arms, and you can finally gaze at her in person — and she'll recognize your voice better than anyone else's.

Terms to Know

Longitudinal: In delivery, the unborn baby's body position is straight.

Oblique: In delivery, the unborn baby's body position is slightly angled.

Important Information About Your Pregnancy

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Images courtesy of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (