*Your body *

It's about 266 days since conception (or 280 since the first day of your last period). Not much longer to wait now…you hope. Only five per cent of babies arrive on their due date (and more than 40 per cent don't put in an appearance until after their due date), so keep everything (except your legs) crossed. You may have a sudden rush of energy and start cleaning like crazy. Don't overdo it: you'll need all your strength for labour.

Birthing your placenta

As soon as your baby is born, the placenta starts to peel away from the wall of the uterus, and is expelled from your body shortly afterwards (called the third stage of labour). Your midwife may ask if you want to see the flat, liver-like organ. It can weigh up to 650g and is about 5-7cm thick at its thickest point.

*Want to bring onlabour? *

If you're impatient for labour to start, try these natural ways:

  • Have sex: the rhythm of intercourse stimulates the cervix, while the hormone prostaglandin in your partner's sperm can make contractions start.
  • Drink raspberry leaf tea.
  • Eat a hot curry: there's nothing like a few chillies to get you going.
  • Go for a long walk.
  • Schedule an important appointment for your due date: your last baby-free girls' lunch with 10 friends should do the trick. You won't make it!

Your baby

In her ninth month she's 46cm long and probably still covered with greasy vernix, a lubricant during birth.

If you haven't had her yet, your baby will be feeling increasingly restricted by the size of the uterus. She needs to kick her limbs, open her mouth widely, cry noisily and suckle milk, but until she's born, these rites of passage will have to wait.

Only 5 per cent of babies actually arrive on their due date.

*No room to move *

Don't panic if you scarcely feel your baby move: it's almost certainly because she simply hasn't got anywhere to go. If the anxiety is really getting to you, go straight to the surgery or antenatal clinic and ask the midwife to let you listen to the heartbeat. At this stage, you've got enough on your mind (labour, birth, breastfeeding, never sleeping again!) without worrying unnecessarily. Chances are, your baby is just conserving her energy for the big day.

*Let me out! *

Doctors still aren't completely sure about exactly what triggers labour, but your baby has a lot to do with it! Apparently, when she's mature enough to be born, her body sends hormonal signals to the placenta, which make it 'run down' in readiness for birth. So, although you can do your bit in terms of long walks and sexy interludes, it seems that your baby has the final say about her birth day.