Week 42 of Pregnancy
Your Baby in Week 42 of Pregnancy
Although it’s perfectly normal for a baby to arrive past the due date, you and your baby will get some extra attention this week. To be sure all is well, your practitioner will likely monitor your overduebaby through nonstress tests (you’re hooked up to a fetal monitor to measure your baby’s heart rate and movement) and amniotic-fluid checks. When this latecomer finally makes her debut, chances are her skin will be dry, cracked, peeling, or wrinkled — all completely temporary. That’s because the protective vernix was shed weeks ago in anticipation of a delivery date that came and went. A tardy baby will also have longer nails, possibly longer hair, and little or none of that baby fuzz (lanugo). She’ll also be more alert — “Hi, Mommy!”
Learn more about your baby in week 42 and a late delivery.
Your Body in Week 42 of Pregnancy While you may feel as if this pregnancy has been going on forever, studies show that 70 percent of post-term pregnancies aren’t post-term at all. The frustrating mix-up is typically due to a miscalculation of the time of conception, usually thanks to irregular ovulation or a mom’s uncertainty about the exact date of her last period. Even if you do end up among the two percent of women who are truly overdue, know that before this week is over, your baby will come out on her own — or your practitioner will perform labor induction. Of course, you’re probably sick of everyone calling to see if you’ve had the baby yet. But here’s something to focus on as you wait: By this time next week, you’ll be snuggling with your newborn.
Learn more about your body in week 42 and being past your due date.
Week 42 Pregnancy Tip: Postpartum Doula
Once the baby comes home, a new mom can expect to be exhausted and overwhelmed. (So can a new dad, by the way.) Whom do you call? A postpartum doula! She will provide care for you and your baby, including breastfeeding advice, cooking, child care, errands, and light cleaning. This miracle worker will teach and support you and your partner without judgment (she won’t laugh at your pathetic attempts at swaddling). She knows all about emotional and physical recovery, infant soothing and coping skills, feeding, diapering — anything and everything that eases the tricky transition into parenthood. The best way to find a postpartum doula is through word of mouth, so ask your pediatrician and your friends (you can also check with Doulas of North America at http://www.dona.org). Keep in mind that most doulas charge an hourly rate, so you can be flexible about when and how often she comes. A few hours a day for the first couple of weeks might mean the difference between a mommy and a zombie.
Learn more about what to ask a doula before you hire one.
Week 42 Pregnancy Symptoms
More frequent Braxton Hicks contractions: At this late stage in the game you’ll likely be feeling more frequent Braxton Hicks contractions (aka “practice” contractions that make your uterus feel hard) as your body gets ready for labor. If you start to notice a pattern to the contractions, they may be the real thing.
Bloody show or loss of mucous plug: As your cervix opens up in preparation for labor, you may see a pink or brown discharge. This is perfectly normal and means that labor could happen within the next several days — but if the discharge is heavy (more than two tablespoons) or is bright red, call your practitioner as soon as you can since this bleeding could be a sign of placenta previa or placental abruption.
Rupture of membranes (possibly): If you feel a gush, or even a steady trickle, of clear, odorless fluid, that probably means that the amniotic sac has broken, allowing amniotic fluid to leak out. Let your practitioner know, and follow the instructions on labor and delivery because you may be giving birth soon (though about 15 percent of women experience their water breaking before their labor begins).
Cervical dilation or effacement: Your practitioner has probably told you how dilated (open) and effaced (thinned out) your cervix is as it prepares for your baby to pass through the birth canal. While there’s nothing you can do to speed it up, if your practitioner feels there is a need to induce your labor, there are medications that can move this process along.
Diarrhea or nausea: Abdominal discomfort and diarrhea may be signs that labor is imminent (intestinal muscles relax before childbirth). Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and eat lightly to keep up your strength.
Increased swelling of ankles and feet: Your bodily fluids are at their peak volume and you may be at your most immobile (the extra weight and discomfort can really slow you down!). Both can bring on even more swelling in your feet and ankles. But, still, don’t forget to drink plenty of water to keep fluids circulating through your system, and try to sit or lie down with your feet elevated to prevent fluid from pooling there.
Difficulty sleeping: It’s very possible that anxiety and discomfort are making it hard for you to get enough shut-eye lately (and then there’s the urge to pee every five minutes throughout the night). Consider talking to your partner before bed (or writing down your worries) so that you can rest easier emotionally; and do what you can to make your bedroom as comfortable as possible — for instance, open a window to prevent stuffiness or use a body pillow for extra support.
Colostrum: Many women find that toward the end of pregnancy they begin to leak colostrum from their nipples — a thin, yellowish fluid that is the precursor to mature breast milk. If you’re uncomfortable — or wet — wear nursing pads in your bra.