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Spears catches some rays near Malibu while on an 85-ft. chartered yacht with pals and sister Jamie Lynn (right) on Aug. 7. "I find being pregnant empowering," says the singer, whose due date is just weeks away. "I think it brings out a pure side of you, and I think that's cool."
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The singer steps out with husband Kevin Federline at the July 10 Hollywood premiere of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in a tank paying homage to the movie and her unborn baby. "I was speechless," says Spears about seeing their child's image on a sonogram for the first time (they've chosen not to find out the baby's sex). "I was emotional. I think it's the best feeling in the world."
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SHOWERED WITH LOVE
Spears's baby shower, hosted at her Malibu home on Aug. 6, was an intimate Moroccan-themed affair attended by 19 friends and family members. "Everyone really outdid themselves," Spears says of her loot, which included a car seat and a bassinet from her mom. The only downside to the event: A prying paparazzo was shot in the leg with a BB gun, and police are investigating the incident.
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Shopping for her little one (as she did Aug. 2 at Kitson Kids in L.A.) has been one of Spears's favorite activities. She's already purchased three diaper bags from Chase's Closet – a Houston boutique co-owned by TLC's T-Boz – personalized with photos of her and Federline, and during a spring visit to the Sanctuary resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., the couple bought $2,000 worth of baby and puppy clothes.
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A HOLD ON HER
By spending time with Federline's children Kori, 3, and Kaleb, 1 (at her Aug. 6 baby shower), Spears has gotten a taste of playing the parent. "There's just the familiarity of having his child with us," she says. "It just puts you in that frame of mind of motherhood." Plus, Spears says, "I love being around kids."
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Spears has embraced her body's changing shape throughout her pregnancy (left, in Destin, Fla., on April 13; right, in Malibu on June 27). "My mom said that after she had my brother (Bryan, 28) – that was her first child – that was the best her body had ever looked," the singer says. "She said having a child inspired her. Hopefully I'll take on the same thing."
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"I think our love is growing," says Spears of her relationship with Federline (with daughter Kori in Santa Monica in May). "It sounds clichéd and cheesy, but it's true." Adds Federline: "It's kind of like a turn-on knowing that she's having my child."
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Spears hasn't resorted to dowdy, oversized outfits and muumuus for maternity wear. Among her funky fashion picks: a flowing halter dress (in Malibu on May 25), a strapless minidress and UGG boots (in Scottsdale on April 25) and a jaunty chapeau paired with a peasant skirt and cowboy boots (in Malibu on June 30).
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AT HER SERVICE
"He's gotten more sensitive toward me," says Spears of her husband (in Malibu on Aug. 9). "There come times where I have to take care of her a little bit more," agrees Federline. "I normally do it anyway. I just know that I've got to step it up a little bit." Besides chauffeuring around their Maltese pup, Lacy, he also likes to cook for the mom-to-be. His specialty? Pancakes.
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Spears has undergone her share of tress-formations during her pregnancy, including going back to her natural brown locks (in Beverly Hills on March 15) and chopping off her extensions for a more low-maintenance bob (in Malibu on July 17). She's also indulged her cravings: "I like pickles and ice cream at night," she says.
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The singer is looking forward to downtime with her little boy or girl. "I really do love what I do. But the pace I was going at was ridiculous," says Spears (in Beverly Hills on June 29). "I'm sure there's going to come a time when I get back to work again, but it'll be a totally different way of life than it was before."
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DREAM COME TRUE
"Spending so much time with (Kori) has made me look at motherhood a lot and the way I want to raise my kids," Spears (in Hollywood on May 6) says. And in a message to her future children (she wants three), Spears told PEOPLE: "I just want them to know what a miracle and a change they're going to bring to our lives and how excited we are."