At 41 weeks pregnant, you have every right to be desperate. Your little one certainly appears to be a late bloomer!
Well, in other words, he's overstayed his welcome in your uterus. But don't worry, because his time there is limited. Actually, what you are going through isn't unusual at all. Only 5% of babies are born on their due date, while more than half 'decide' to extend their comfortable time inside your womb. Here's another detail to take into consideration: 70% of overdue labours take place because of miscalculating the conception period.
Hopefully, this information has helped calm you down a little bit. But in case you are looking for more advice, which will provide you with extra relief, lay your eyes on the following pregnancy week 41 guide.
41 weeks pregnant: Ready to go!
At this point, there's not much new to say about your future child. He's got to the end of the line in good shape, measuring more than 20 inches and weighing a little less than 8 pounds. He's got pretty much everything sorted out, but there's room for improvement. At 41 weeks pregnant, the overdue baby is putting new abilities into practice. Check them out:
- Vernix caseosa: it has finally shed, so the baby's skin is vulnerable. In fact, it could crack and peel, but it will heal once he is born
- Overgrown nails: this is another sign that he needs to leave your womb... and schedule a manicure appointment!
- His endocrine system is developing stronger everyday
- Stress hormone production reaches its peak: they will help the baby adapt to the new environment through survival instincts
- His lungs are ready to be filled with air for the first time during his very first breath
41 weeks pregnant: Practice is over
Braxton Hicks Contractions, which you may have been experiencing for a few weeks, will soon be replaced by genuine labour contractions. At week 41, pregnancy can come to an end at any time, so you need to be ready. Your baby will make his way out any day now and you should be able to discern the real symptoms: with labour contractions, the pain comes from the lower back and moves around to the front. Also, they will gradually build in intensity and frequency and, even more important, won't go away! In contrast, Braxton Hicks Contractions usually stop if you shift positions or move.
By 41 weeks pregnant, you need to pay attention to every single one of the symptoms of labour. Your body, and your baby, are talking to you to let you know when D-day is going to happen. Try to be aware if your body is experiencing changes, like:
- Your waters breaking...or maybe not: The most important signs of labour are contractions and the dilation of your cervix
- Bloody show: when your discharge turns brown or pink. It's usually a clear sign that you could go into labour within 48 hours.
- Labour contractions
- Diarrhoea: it's very typical before going into labour, and so is nausea
- Cervical dilations
- Sudden bursts of energy
- Frequent urination
If you get to the point where you need an induced labour (which, being 41 weeks pregnant, starts to shape as a real possibility), you are at a higher risk for needing a C-section, just because of some potential complications. If you haven't thought about it yet, maybe expecting that your baby would come on the due date, this may be a good time for you to have a conversation with your partner and your practitioner. Educate yourself on C-sections without panicking, because a lot of women need it and it's just fine.
41 weeks pregnant: Taking matters into your own hands
Up until now, you've been waiting for your baby to knock on the door. You are 41 weeks pregnant, so he's late, and this could be the time for you (well, really, the doctor!) to take matters into your own hands. So you'll most likely have a meeting with your doctor this week.
Besides measuring your uterus and taking the regular tests, blood pressure and urine, at 41 weeks pregnant the doctor may put induced labour on the table. Yes, it's time to accept that you may be having an induced labour. But what exactly is this?
Quite simply, it's when your doctor or midwife has to take special measures to “trick” your body into going into labour. There are several ways to do this.
These are the most typical ways of induction:
- Help cervix dilate and efface by using topical hormone cream or suppository (prostaglandin); the doctor can also use special equipment to help open the cervix
- Membrane stripping: the doctor will gently touch membranes that connect amniotic sac, which causes your body to react by releasing prostaglandin and start the normal labour process
- If cervix has already started to dilate and efface, doctor could rupture the amniotic sac
- If nothing else has worked, they can give you an IV with the medication Pitocin, which mimics oxytocin in the body and causes contractions to start
Some risks you should know about induced labour include: the possibility of the uterus contracting too quickly, potential problems with the umbilical cord, changes in the heart rate of the feotus, infection or rupture of the uterus. But most of the time, induced labours work out just fine.
There are also natural ways you can try for bringing on labour yourself. Their effectiveness isn't scientifically proved, but trying them can't hurt!
At 41 weeks pregnant, it is completely normal to be anxious. Keep yourself busy and just remember that, if you have to undergo an induced labour, it should happen just like a normal one. If not, a C-section is almost entirely safe nowadays, so stop overthinking! In a week, you'll be holding your baby and you'll realize how all of this long journey has been worth it.