Did you know that less than 5% of babies are born exactly on their due date? The rest are born either before or after their stipulated date. So, relax, because Worrying never solved anything. There’s nothing you can do to make things happen, except wait for labor to begin or discuss your options with the doctor. If you are 41 weeks pregnant and tired of playing the waiting game, read our post here to find out how things will proceed this week.
41 Weeks Pregnant Symptoms:
Some of the symptoms you experience during week 41 pregnancy include:
- Anxiety about missing your due date
- Cervical dilation and effacement
- Vaginal discharge
- Discomfort and pain around the pelvic area
- Diarrhea or nausea (just before labor begins)
[ Read: 10th Month of Pregnancy ]
Changes In Your Body In 41st Week Of Pregnancy:
Post date or not, the last few weeks of pregnancy aren’t easy. On one hand, you want to make sure that your baby is alright. On the other hand, you feel a desperate urge to just ‘offload’ all that weight you’ve been carrying for the past nine months. As your doctor would have told you by now, there’s nothing to worry if your baby is doing fine inside. An ultrasound helps check for fetal health, weight, heart rate, position, and the amount of amniotic fluid inside the uterus. The doctor examines if the cervix has dilated or effaced. All these factors help them decide if it makes sense to wait until week 42 or if pregnancy needs to be induced.
Pelvic Pain And Discomfort:
As your baby drops further down into the pelvis, he presses against your bladder, hips, and the pelvic joints. The pelvic muscles stretch to the maximum. Thanks to all the pressure, you may experience discomfort and pain in the lower abdomen. The discomfort increases as your baby prepares for labor and moves his head further into the birth canal. Sadly, there’s no escaping the pain. But, take comfort from the fact that all of it will be over in a few days (or probably hours).
Diarrhea And Nausea:
Some women experience diarrhea a few hours before labor. It is perhaps nature’s way of preparing you for labor. Loose bowel movements are sometimes accompanied by nausea, flu-like symptoms, vomiting, etc.
Early Labor Symptoms:
If things are fine and the baby assumes the birth position, you may experience early signs of labor. These signs include vaginal discharge (of the mucous plug), an increase in the frequency of contractions, backache, etc. If you experience one or all these symptoms, remember to stay calm and inform everyone concerned that it is probably time to check-in at the hospital.
[ Read: Difference Between True And False Labor ]
Slow Down in Fetal Activity:
Babies experience rapid growth between weeks 40 to 42. Your baby has now reached his birth weight and height, and there’s little room inside the uterus for him to move. And if he reaches the birth position, there’s probably little room for him to turn his head. Although his kicks aren’t frequent, they’re sharper and stronger than ever. Your doctor will advise you to monitor fetal activity by counting the number of kicks within a given time phase. Contact your doctor immediately if the baby is unusually quiet- it could indicate a serious problem.
How Accurate Is Your ‘Due Date’?
According to textbooks, pregnancies that last 42 weeks and beyond are called ‘post term pregnancies’. When you first visit your doctor, she may predict a due date for you. The due date depends on your Last Menstrual Period (LMP). The date can change according to the growth measures in the ultrasound. Doctors would monitor you and the baby closely if you miss the 40-week mark. Post-term pregnancies occur because of an inaccurately predicted date. It is especially true among women who experience irregular menstrual cycles or those who’ve been on hormonal birth control, or among those who experience bleeding in the first trimester.
Some menstrual cycles last up to 28 days and sometimes 35 days. If it is the case, even an ultrasound scan in the second semester may not be powerful enough to guess the Estimated Due Date (EDD).
Although ultrasounds are far more reliable than the LMP-based due date, remember that these are all estimates. For example, when the crown-rump-length is around 3-5 days, an ultrasound at 12-20 weeks may show the CRL to be around 7 to 10 days. Similarly, with a pregnancy at around 35 weeks on a 31-week ultrasound, the baby could be anywhere between 32 to 38 weeks. When the ultrasound gestational age varies from the LMP by a larger range of error, doctors refer to the former to calculate the estimated due date.
The concept of due dates was first put forward by a German obstetrician Franz Karl Naegele. He observed that an average pregnancy lasts around 40 weeks or approximately nine months. But it differs from one individual to another. In fact, women may have different gestations for their babies. For example, a woman can deliver one baby at 38 weeks, another at 40 weeks and the third at 42 weeks. The bottom line is, your baby will be born when he’s ready! And even if he isn’t, doctors will be with you to ensure no harm to your baby and you.
[ Read: 40th Week Pregnancy ]
What Does An Ultrasound Scan Reveal?
An ultrasound scan reveals the baby’s weight, heartbeat, position inside the placenta, and the amount of amniotic fluid inside the uterus. If things appear to be normal, the doctor may choose to wait or nudge him gently to induce labor. At pregnancy 41 weeks, doctors also conduct non-stress tests to check if the baby is distressed.
What is Labor Induction And How Is Labor Induced?
Labor induction refers to the use of medications and other methods to induce labor. Labor is induced using the following methods:
- Stripping Or Sweeping The Membrane: Doctors offer to sweep membranes around the baby to release hormones and stimulate contractions. This process is safe and is likely to induce labor within 48 hours.
- Rupturing The Amniotic Sac: The doctor makes a small hole in the amniotic sac using a special tool. Once the amniotic sac ruptures, it is only a matter of a few hours before contractions begin. And if contractions have begun, they become stronger. It usually occurs when the cervix has dilated and effaced.
- Ripening The Cervix: A special device called Laminaria is inserted to dilate and expand the cervix. A special catheter like instrument is also used to ripen the cervix. Sometimes medications like prostaglandins are used to cause contractions.
- Intravenous Administration Of Oxytocin: Oxytocin is a hormone that induces contractions. Doctors induce oxytocin through an IV to cause the uterus to contract. Labor usually commences within 30 minutes of administering oxytocin.
Doctors often advise elective labor induction to safeguard the mother and her baby’s health. Besides the fact that post-term babies may need C-section, there are several risks associated with post-term delivery.
[ Read: Ways To Induce Labor Pain Naturally ]
Early Signs of Labor:
Some of the early signs of labor include vaginal discharge (bloody show) and increased contractions. Here’s a brief idea about the things that follow:
41 Weeks Pregnant Contractions:
Early contractions often feel like menstrual cramps. Sometimes they begin as a low backache gradually progress towards the front. And sometimes, they concentrate only on the front. In the early stages, your contractions may come at regular intervals, but as time progresses, they get closer and longer. Unlike Braxton Hicks contractions, they continue even as you move around or change position. You may be asked to time your contractions or check the duration between the end of one and the start of another contraction.
A whitish (sometimes pink or brownish in color) mucus-like discharge from the vagina is an early indicator of labor. It is known as the mucus plug and is sometimes discharged in one swoop. But in some women this is dispelled as tiny discharged. But vaginal discharge isn’t an accurate sign of labor, simply because you may lose the mucous plug several days before labor, and sometimes it doesn’t happen until labor begins.
Water Bag Breaks:
The amniotic sac usually ruptures sometime after contractions begin. But in some cases, the water bag breaks before contractions. And for some women, the water does not break until they are into active labor. You needn’t worry too much about your water breaking unless the amniotic fluid appears greenish or brownish in color. Few women experience their water bag breaking in public- and even if it does, it is likely to flow as a slow trickle. Contractions usually begin 12 to 24 hours after your water breaks leaving you with enough time to reach the hospital. If labor does not begin within 24 hours, the doctor may have to induce to get things started.
Changes In The Body At 40 Weeks:
If he isn’t born yet, your baby is engaged into the pelvis. He has probably dropped down into the birth canal (which usually triggers the early signs of labor). His brains are developing and will continue to grow until he’s about three years old. Your baby continues to gain weight. In fact, your baby’s weight increases significantly between weeks 40 and 42. It can also be a cause for worry because if he weighs more than 3.5 kilos, you may have difficulty in pushing the baby, leaving you with no choice but opt for induced labor or C-section.
Tips To Help You Cope:
Staying calm when you are overdue is easier said than done. But there’s nothing that you can do to induce labor. From eating pineapples to applying castor oil, there are plenty of home remedies suggested. But there’s no scientific evidence. As long as your doctor gives you the go ahead, try some of the suggestions available online. Some of these suggestions include:
- Unprotected Sex: If the doctor says it’s safe and if you are in the mood for it, indulge in unprotected sex with your partner. The semen contains prostaglandins, a hormone that induces contractions.
- Rub Your Nipples: Stimulating your nipples releases oxytocin, a hormone that causes the uterus to contract.
- Spicy Asian Curry: Now is the time to order your favorite spicy Thai red curry. The spice used in Asian food is said to induce contractions. A spicy chat can also do wonder (but be careful lest you get diarrhea).
- Walking: Walking also causes the uterus to contract.
Keep your mind busy to take your attention from the impending labor. You can either go out with your partner for dinner or have friends come over to spend some time together. Well-meaning friends and family members may call upon you to check if everything’s alright or if ‘anything’s happening yet’. Politely tell them that you will let them know when the time comes.
Tips For Dads-To-Be:
Your wife is now a bundle of nerves. The least you can do is to comfort her and assure her that things will be alright. Here’s a list of things to do to help you cope:
- Offer To Help Whenever You Can:
As you may know by now, it is not easy to manage an expecting mother who constantly panics about her impending labor. Contribute by offering help whenever she needs you. You can also help by preparing food to be stored away in the freezer.
- Offer To Give Her A Backrub:
With all the fatigue and weariness, your wife may be exhausted. You can help by giving her a back rub especially when contractions begin.
- Check That All Your Insurance And Related Documents Are In Place:
You don’t want to rush to and from the hospital just when your partner is in the labor room. You will have to check and make sure not to miss out important documents.
What did you experience during 41 weeks of pregnancy. No two pregnancies are likely to be the same, hence the chances of two labors beings the same are rare. We’ve only mentioned general experiences here. Was your experience any different? Share your story with us here.
- Baby Crowning – Everything You Need To Know
- What Happens To Your Cervix During Birth Or Labor?
- 5 Effective Exercises To Induce Labour Naturally
- Overdue Pregnancy – What To Do When Your Baby’s Overdue?
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