Week 41 of Pregnancy
Your Baby in Week 41 of Pregnancy
It seems like your baby has opted for a late checkout, quite a popular option judging by the numbers. Fewer than five percent of babies are born on their actual due dates — and around 50 percent decide to overstay their welcome in Hotel Uterus, thriving well into the tenth month. Remember, too, that most of the time an overdue baby isn’t overdue at all — it’s just that the due date was off. But your baby isn’t just lounging around in there, waiting for his big day. His endocrine system is getting ready to produce stress hormones (you aren’t the only one who’s stressed!), which he’ll need to survive outside the womb.
Learn more about your baby in week 41 and fetal stress hormones.
Your Body in Week 41 of Pregnancy
Meanwhile, your body is as ready for birth as it will ever be. No one knows exactly what triggers real labor (though you’re probably more concerned with “when” than “why” at this point), but it’s believed to be a combination of factors. The intricate process begins with the fetus, whose brain sets off a relay of chemical messages that stimulates a chain reaction of hormones in his mommy. Your water may break, and you may notice pink or red-tinged mucus (the bloody show) just before labor begins. Contractions start (early ones feel like an upset tummy or heavy menstrual cramps), then intensify, becoming progressively more frequent and painful, and generally (but not always) more regular. This could be it!
Learn more about your body this week and labor contractions.
Week 41 Pregnancy Tip: Keeping Busy
Baby on the brain? It’s hard to think of anything else when your due date has come and gone — a week ago. But you know what they say about a watched pot — so in an effort to keep your mind off your tardy baby and to keep busy, try to have something planned every day (and watching the clock tick doesn’t count!). Get out of the house: Take a walk (which might even help get your contractions going), get a manicure or a haircut (you may not have the chance once baby’s on board), see a movie or two (your last for a while), hit the mall for those last-minute baby needs, have lunch with your friends and dinner with your spouse, do a thorough grocery-store sweep so you’ll come home to a full fridge and freezer. And speaking of freezers, make sure yours is stocked with ready-made meals. Oh, and tell your friends and family to stop calling every day: Remind them that no news is…no news.
Learn more about being overdue and anxious.
Week 41 Pregnancy Symptoms
A slowdown in fetal activity: Many babies slow down their activity at this late stage in the game mainly because they become too cramped in the uterus (they are full size and weight now) to move around much.
More frequent urination: Now that your baby has dropped down into your pelvis toward the birth canal — with his or her head most likely right on your bladder — you may be feeling more of an urge to pee than ever before (and you may even start leaking when you cough or sneeze). Continue to do Kegel exercises to strengthen those pelvic-floor muscles and wear a panty liner (if you like) to stay dry in the meantime.
Bloody show or loss of mucous plug: You may notice a pink- or brown-tinged mucous discharge in your underpants — or in the toilet. The passage of this mucus means that blood vessels in the cervix are rupturing as the cervix is beginning to open up in preparation for labor (could be today or several days from now).
Cervical dilation or effacement: During an internal exam, your practitioner will probably tell you how much your cervix is dilated (opened) and effaced (thinned). This opening and thinning of the cervix mean that it’s getting ready to make way for a baby. For some women dilation and effacement are very gradual — over weeks — and for some they can happen overnight.
Diarrhea or nausea: Starting to get the runs? It’s very common to experience diarrhea (or nausea) shortly before you go into labor since your muscles (including those in your intestines and rectum) are loosening in preparation for childbirth.
Hemorrhoids: If the bulging veins in your rectum are causing you pain (thanks in large part to the increased blood flow to your pelvic area and the pressure your uterus is putting on your rectum), try soaking in a warm sitz bath for 15 to 20 minutes to soothe your aching bum. And don’t forget to ask your practitioner before using any medication for hemorrhoids.
Pelvic pressure and discomfort: No doubt you’re feeling heaviness and stress in the pelvic region now that your baby has dropped down toward the birth canal. To ease the pressure on your hips and pelvis try to relax by lying down with your hips elevated.
Fatigue or extra energy: If you can’t seem to find the oomph to get off the couch these days, it’s understandable — after all, your heavy (late) load is weighing you down. On the other hand, you may notice a sudden burst of energy now and again (for example, you feel the immediate urge to organize the nursery closet) — that’s your nesting instinct kicking into high gear, which is nature’s way of helping you prepare for your impending arrival.