If you are still with us at 42 weeks, your baby is well and truly ‘cooked’ now! If you haven’t opted to be induced then you should be offered twice-weekly monitoring to assess your baby’s heartbeat, just to check that all is well and he isn’t in any distress. You’ll also have ultrasound scans to assess to check the amount of amniotic fluid (waters) around him and to look in on his general wellbeing.
Most PCTs won’t advise going much beyond 42 weeks because of the risk of placental failure, which is dangerous for your baby. It’s really worth considering being induced at the end of this week. Although it’s true that this can mean a more intense, more painful labour, and that your chances of having some sort of intervention or a Caesarean are higher than in a woman who hasn’t been induced, your medical team will be most concerned about the health and safety of your unborn baby, so do weigh up the pros and cons.
The baby is ready and fully developed by now weighing about 6 to 8 pounds and almost 20 inches long. The baby is big in size and ready to be born. The nails will be long and you will need to cut them as soon as the baby is born. The skin on the hands and legs might have become flaky. Sometimes the placenta might stop producing amniotic fluid making the doctors worried. Labor induction methods might be discussed with you by your medical practitioner to prepare you for the same in case you do not go into labor naturally after the due date is over. The baby’s size can be really large and the head might be too big to descend through the birth canal. The doctor can use a vacuum pump or forceps to pull out the baby. This can cause bruising on the baby’s head and is not preferred.
The doctor can take this decision if the baby’s heart beat suddenly slows during delivery or the baby is in distress, or if you have been pushing too long and the perineum does not stretch. As the placenta ages beyond the 42nd week its ability to provide nutrients and oxygen to the fetus reduce and can result in the death of the fetus hence a post term pregnancy also needs to be monitored carefully. If the fetus lives it develops a wrinkled appearance, long nails, abundant hair, and little fat below the tissues. Some post term babies pass fecal material called meconium into the amniotic fluid before delivery and if by mistake the baby sucks meconium into the lungs at the time of delivery it can develop severe pneumonia.
Changes With Your Body
The baby at this stage of pregnancy is ready to be born. You may be feeling frustrated at this point in time. But stay positive, the end of eth pregnancy is near. You should be going to all of the doctors’ visits and taking all of the right steps to ensure a safe and healthy baby. If you are at the end of the 42nd week, the doctor may discuss inducing labor. This is nothing to worry about; it just gives the doctors a little push for labor. It cannot harm the baby in any way. Or the doctor may want to wait until the baby goes through the natural birth meaning no induction of labor.
You have to be careful because after this week in pregnancy the placenta will slow down in making the amniotic fluid, which will reduce the oxygen and the nutrients from getting to the baby. So a decision should be made before this week what would happen if you went the full 42 weeks. This is something that should be discusses with the doctor at week 38 or 39. The only thing you want is a safe delivery and a healthy baby, it is the doctors’ jobs to make sure that you have that.
If you do so happen to be among that small percentage of women who are actually truly overdue then there still is some comfort. Before the end of pregnancy week 42 your baby will arrive, if not on his/her own then thanks to induced labor. You should also be aware that even though you may be two weeks past your due date this is not uncommon and it is most likely that all is well with your baby. Either way your health care provider will carry out tests to ensure the well being and health of your baby and advice you accordingly. Testing is almost ordered in the 42nd week to ensure that there is good utero-placental circulation. This may require either a non stress test, and/or a contraction test or biophysical profile.
If your pregnancy has been a healthy and largely uncomplicated one then you really shouldn’t have much to worry about, as an additional week or two shouldn’t really have much bearing on the outcome of the pregnancy. If yours is a first time pregnancy then you should be aware that 10% of most first timers do actually go up to two weeks beyond the due date, but the wait is almost over now. You can rest assured that a pregnancy is almost never allowed to stretch beyond this week. If you haven’t gone into labor and given birth naturally by the end of the week, your health care provider would most likely employ prostaglandin gels and cervical ripening agents to prepare the cervix for an induction.
When your baby finally makes his/her debut on the stage it’s very likely that his/her skin will be wrinkled and maybe cracked or dry and peeling, but this is quite normal and temporary. It is only because of the shedding of the vernix that happened weeks ago. A baby born two weeks late is also likely to have longer nails and hair, and should be a lot more alert.
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.
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.
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.
The only thing you can do right now is remain calm. Listen to the doctor and flow their instructions to the tee. You want to make sure that you have a happy and healthy baby. If you feel something is wrong, contact your doctor right away. Even if it feels like nothing it may be something.