Pregnancy week by week

Baby

Toddler

Week 40+ of Pregnancy


You could find that the due date comes and goes and there’s still no sign of your baby arriving. Being overdue can be worrying. Once you are past your due date, you may be given a date for induction of labour - where labour is started artificially. Induction will usually be offered 7-14 days past your due date. There are several ways to induce labour.

Although you are late, you are not considered post-term yet and your doctor will probably recommend you to wait a few days because labour induction carries a number of risks. 

The last few days before baby is born can drag. The secret is to keep busy. You could use these extra days to enjoy time with your family. You should catch up on sleep whenever you need to- it’s your body’s way of gathering energy for the excitement ahead. As the days progress, you might be feeling like you are going crazy. Rest assured, as long as your doctor is monitoring your baby closely, you have no need to worry. After all, the baby can’t stay inside forever. Try to push any anxious thoughts away and simply relax and enjoy the time before your baby’s arrival.

Since you’ve probably been having Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks now, it can be difficult to determine when the real thing is actually beginning. Generally speaking, if you begin to have contractions that begin in the back and get worse over time, have a bloody show, or your water breaks, labor is imminent. You should call your doctor and begin making your way to the hospital. Even after labor begins, however, it could be many hours before your baby is delivered. Labor time varies widely among women and is typically longer for women who are having their first baby.



Your baby



As you await your baby’s arrival, he’s plumping up a bit more. He is also growing his hair and nails even longer. Your baby will have shed the vernix caseosa and his skin will be dry and wrinkled.



Your body

In about 80% of all pregnancies, birth takes place between 38 and 42 weeks. About 10% are preterm (end before 37 weeks), and the other 10% or so last beyond 42 weeks. These latter pregnancies are considered to be post- term.

After 40 weeks, your doctor will be doing a weekly check of your cervix to see if it is dilating. Many doctors decide to induce labour when the cervix becomes “ripe” (softened, effaced, and starting to dilate) after 41 weeks. If your cervix has not yet begun to dilate, your doctor may decide to ripen the cervix by giving gels containing the hormone prostaglandin. Your doctor will also recommend a non stress test or biophysical profile. This will help determine whether or not it is advisable for you to wait it out, or if labour should be induced. Many doctors adopt a wait- and –see attitude if the cervix is not dilated and there are no signs that the baby is in danger. Others feel it’s best to deliver a post-term baby if labour has not begun by the end of 42 weeks, regardless of the condition of the cervix. Generally, a pregnancy will not be allowed to go beyond 43 or 44 weeks, because the risks to the baby are significantly increased after that time.

If delivery is decided on, how the baby is born will depend on many factors. A baby who is too large to pass through the mother’s pelvis must be born by caesarean. A woman whose cervix is ripe and whose baby has shown no signs of problems is a candidate for vaginal delivery. The baby’s heart rate, as well as contractions of the mother’s uterus, will be monitored closely during a vaginal birth of a post-term baby. A caesarean birth may become necessary if there are signs that the baby is not tolerating the stress of labour.


Remember

As exciting as it is to meet your baby for the first time, don’t be surprised if your baby is not exactly what you imagined him to be. Babies that are delivered vaginally tend to have misshapen heads and puffy eyes. Their skin may be coated with a white, greasy substance called the vernix caseosa. His head may have patches of hair or no hair at all.

Don’t worry; it takes most newborns a few weeks to get that chubby cheeked baby look.



FAQs

1) What are the natural ways to bring on labour?

If you are keen to try and bring on labour yourself, there are few things you can try. Although there is no scientific basis around them and are not guaranteed to work, but you may find them helpful. Please keep in mind that you should not use any of these methods until you are past your due date. Also , consult your doctor before trying any of these methods.

Eat a strong spicy, hot curry as this tends to irritate your intestines and that can cause your uterus to contract. Having sex may also help because this releases prostaglandins that can help thin and dilate the cervix. It has a similar action to the artificial hormones that are used to artificially induce labour. Go for a long walk as this may help to get the baby to drop into proper position. The pressure on the cervix from baby’s head can cause the cervix to ripen. Try nipple stimulation for a few hours a day can cause your body to release the hormone oxytocin, which can bring on contractions. Acupressure may be helpful in inducing labour.

Finally, try doing relaxation exercises as this can help with labour induction.
 


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