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The 40-42nd week of pregnancy: what happens to the baby and mom

In the fortieth obstetric week your pregnancy is considered full-term, and the baby may be born any day now. Likely, you are already tired of your “interesting” condition and want to meet the baby. Do not worry if labor has not happened at exactly 40 weeks: statistics show that only about 5% of children decide to appear during this period.

The size and development of the fetus in the 40th-42nd weeks of pregnancy

Pregnancy week 40 sizeYour baby now looks exactly as he will at birth. The baby’s weight can range from 3 to 4.5 kg, while the height is approximately 50-53 cm.

Lanugo has almost completely disappeared and the baby’s skin is now light pink in color. The waxy coating is almost gone, but it might be possible to observe its remnants in the armpits and deep folds on the baby’s body: it is necessary to protect the baby’s delicate skin from rubbing.

All vital organs were formed long ago, and now that their functions are optimizing, here is what happens:

  • The intestine is filled with the first feces. The baby will excrete it immediately after birth or on the next day.
  • The navel by this time has taken “its” place. The genital and genitourinary systems have finished their formation, and boys’ testicles have already descended into the scrotums.
  • Respiration is still improving, however, the baby is already quite capable of taking independent breaths.
  • The heart, liver and other major organs are fully prepared for independent operation.
 The development of the fetus at 40-42 weeks of gestationThe vast majority of babies in this period are characterized by cephalic presentation. Nature has provided such a position in order for the baby to have a maximally comfortable passage through the birth canal. The baby is now curled up, with legs and arms held tightly to the body.

If a baby has taken a different position, for example, on the butt or even across your abdomen, most likely, your doctor has already designed a birth plan, consisting usually of a cesarean section. However, if your baby is in a breech position and is small, there is possibility of a natural delivery.

[attention type=yellow]The baby has grown considerably, and there is already not enough room in the uterus for active play and mischief. Perhaps he has calmed down to conserve strength before the upcoming birth. However, you still need to monitor the movements. Remember that in one day you should feel 10 kicks.[/attention]

What’s going on with a mom in the 40th-42nd weeks

Moms belly 40 weeks' gestation

In this term of pregnancy the abdomen stops growing, and you may even notice some weight loss. The height of the uterine fundus is about 36-40 cm and its height above the navel is equal to 16-20 cm.

Because of the huge belly things are really becoming very difficult for you: a clumsy gait and restless sleep – all this does not add to your joy. Photos of bellies in the 40th week of pregnancy can be seen above.

Among other unpleasant sensations there are the following:

  • The skin on the abdomen is quite itchy. Do not forget about moisturizers and oils to prevent this discomfort.
  • The heaviness of the lower abdomen is increasing. The pelvic bones are moving apart and softening, and the body is actively preparing for childbirth.
  • Braxton hicks are getting even more painful. The abdomen continues to harden, causing discomfort in the 40th and 41st weeks of pregnancy.

Also, you may notice the release of the mucous plug – jelly-like mass of yellowish color, streaked with blood. This is one of the harbingers (signs) of labor in the 40-42nd weeks of pregnancy. Remember, that if this happened, then the probability of fetal infection increases. To avoid trouble, take maximum care of your hygiene.

Future mother is 40 weeks pregnantBy the 40-42nd week term, many women feel a sense of “nesting.” Most likely, you want to clean and bring the house in order, prepare the nursery and check that everything is bought for the new family member. It is also likely that you will partly escape from reality and immerse yourself in your thoughts.

It is normal for a woman feels insecure in her maternal abilities, and in her readiness to be a mother in general. She is frightened by thoughts about the near future, and about whether she will enjoy her new life; the impending labor leads the young mother further into confusion.

[attention type=yellow]To gather courage and confidently look ahead, speak with your husband and family, make sure everything is ready for the hospital and make a clear plan of action in the event of the onset of contractions or a water break.[/attention]

Analyses, examinations and ultrasound in the 40-42nd weeks of pregnancy

Photo fetal ultrasound at 40-42 weeks of gestationIn this period you still have scheduled visits to the gynecologist and urine tests. At the appointment, the doctor will measure the height of the uterine fundus, and listen to your baby’s heartbeat. The nurse will take the usual measurements of your blood pressure, pulse rate, and record your weight.

If necessary, your doctor may recommend undergoing additional tests, such as ultrasound and CTG.

During 40-42nd weeks, ultrasound may be necessary to monitor the condition of the fetus and thus to have ample time to react to possible deviations in his intrauterine development. Also, special attention is given to examining the placenta: in this term it is rapidly maturing and in need of constant monitoring since, in case of any missed dysfunction, the baby may experience oxygen starvation, leading to disruptions in the functioning of the heart and brain.

In addition, the ultrasound will once again ascertain the size of the fetus, the condition of the amniotic fluid and the likelihood of umbilical cord entanglement.

 Cardiotocography at 40-42 weeks of gestationCTG, which stands for cardiotocography, will observe the cardiac activity of the baby.

If the child has not been born before the 40th week, your doctor may recommend doing this procedure every day, if necessary. The parameters measured by the CTG are the fetal heart rate and the condition of a woman’s uterus.

Possible abnormalities

As in other terms of pregnancy, starting from the 40th week, a woman may feel trapped by unpleasant and even dangerous situations. Let’s see what discharge in the 40th week is considered abnormal:

  • Bloody discharge. If you notice traces of blood on your underwear, a placental abruption is possible, which is a serious threat to the fetus and the mother. Do not postpone a call for medical help, because even a few drops can turn into excessive bleeding.
  • Discharge with a sharp unpleasant odor. It is likely an infection, and now, when the passage to the uterus is no longer as protected, there is a high probability of infecting the fetus. Urgently see your doctor for treatment.
  • Watery discharge. If you notice a heavy runny secretion, do not hesitate – your water broke. Call an ambulance and go to the hospital because the baby cannot remain without amniotic fluid for a long time.

If there are no signs of labor in the 40th, 41st and 42nd weeks of gestation

If labor has not started on the 40 weekIt is believed that a normal pregnancy should last exactly 40 weeks. However, experience shows that only 5-7% of babies are born right on time.

First of all, doctors rarely correctly estimate the due date. The complexity is compounded by the fact that no one really knows the exact day of conception. This depends on the duration of the cycle, the date of ovulation, and other factors. So, to sound an alarm ahead of time is not necessary.

[attention type=yellow]Only your baby knows his exact due date. It’s him who runs this complex process until a time when he is fully mature and ready for birth. Currently, birth anywhere between 38-42 weeks is considered normal.[/attention]

If there are no contractions and labor does not begin in the 40th, the 41st or even in the 42nd wee, your doctor may recommend inducing labor. But do not rush to make this decision without having good reasons.

So, here are the situations in which induction of labor is necessary:

  • If the doctor sees clear signs of a prolonged pregnancy, the induction may be recommended starting from the 40th week.
  • Multiple pregnancy or polyhydramnios. In these cases the uterus is already heavily stretched and artificial induction would be a logical decision.
  • The presence of serious chronic maternal diseases associated with the heart or kidneys, as well as diabetes.
  • If the water has broken, but labor had not started yet. In this case, there is a threat to the life of the fetus and necessity to induce labor.

It is necessary to know the contraindications of artificial induction of labor:

  • The procedure is not recommended if there was a previous cesarean section delivery and now a natural delivery is planned. This may lead to ruptured seams.
  • Breech position of the fetus and his condition may eliminate the possibility of induction.

Your doctor should be 100% sure that artificial induction is necessary in order for the child to be born healthy. Also, remember that you have every right to receive comprehensive answers to questions about the methods of induction and why this procedure is clearly indicated in your case.

What you need to know about labor

 How is the process of childbirthAs a rule, labor begins with the dilation of the cervix, which is preceded by the appearance of regular contractions. Unlike “Braxton Hicks,” real contractions repeat at regular intervals with a rapidly increasing force.

With a first pregnancy such contractions can last from 8 to14 hours. When contractions repeat every 5-7 minutes, which means that the cervix is dilated by 4 cm. At this time the dilation will happen approximately 1 cm every hour and so on until the diameter of the cervix is 10-11 cm. After this labor starts, and then you start pushing the baby out.

In a second pregnancy, labor in the 40-41st weeks of pregnancy will be much faster, as the body already knows what to do.

The degree of pain will depend largely on how well you are able to relax during labor.

Here’s what you need to know to ease the process of labor as much as possible:

  • Do not keep to yourself. It is wonderful, if a proven specialist, with whom you have a previous agreement, delivers your baby. In the case where this is not possible, invite your husband, mother or other loved one into delivery room.
  • Find a comfortable position. Possibly, this position will be on-all-fours, or, perhaps, lying on the side. Experiment and do not hesitate to change positions.
  • A warm shower. If the hospital provides the opportunity, be sure to use it. This will help you to relax and relieve pain.
  • Massage. It would be good to have lumbar and sacral massages. Ideally, this is done by a loved one.
[attention type=red]If the above listed methods do not help you to cope, and pain is very strong, do not decline anesthesia. This can be in the form of an analgesics injection, a mask with laughing gas, or epidural anesthesia. The latter method is the most common, and there is no toxic effect on the baby.[/attention]

In order for the labor to pass as quickly and easy as possible, you need to know how to behave during the labor:

  • If possible, assume a “squatting” position. This is most natural position for a woman in this situation.
  • If you lie on your back, bring your knees up to your body and firmly draw them in with your hands. Try to direct the force of your pushes into the lower abdomen and not into your head or your eyes.
  • Meanwhile do not forget to relax in between pushing to gather strength for a new push.
  • Breathing should be shallow and frequent. This will help the baby to pass through the birth canal. Also, try not to scream too loudly, in order to prevent the release of adrenaline into the bloodstream and subsequent vasoconstriction.
  • As hard as it may be, listen to what the midwife says and follow her instructions.

Carefully plan labor in case of certain diseases:

  • diseases of the mother;
  • narrow pelvis;
  • breech position.

Sometimes the birth process can have complications such as bleeding, a disruption in placental detachment or an umbilical cord prolapse. In such situations, surgical intervention may be necessary.

Mom’s nutrition in the 40-42nd weeks of pregnancy

 Moms nutrition on 40-42 week of pregnancyIf your pregnancy has exceeded 40 weeks, think seriously about excluding sweets and baked goods from your diet. This will help prevent excessive “fattening” of the child, which will facilitate his passage through the birth canal.

Also, do not over-consume liquids – edema is not helpful right now. It’s enough to drink 1.5 liters of water a day.

[attention type=yellow]Give preference to fresh fruits and vegetables, cereals and meat. Do not forget about dairy products rich in calcium. As for the rest, there are no restrictions. Just try to eat high-quality products with a minimum of artificial additives.[/attention]

Recommendations for mom and dad

  • Your baby is about to be born. In the time that is remaining, try to rest and conserve strength, because later you will not have that opportunity.
  • Doctors recommend continuing to walk and do light exercises.
  • Check whether you have bought everything for the new member of your family, and everything is ready for the hospital stay.
  • It is worth planning your discharge from hospital: prepare clothes and personal items that you will need for that time.
  • The future dad should be prepared for a few days of a “bachelor” life. Try to spend this time taking care of household chores and making sure that all necessary things are ready for your wife’s return from the hospital.

Video about the 40-42nd weeks of pregnancy

We invite you to view a short video guide about the 40th week of pregnancy, from which you will learn about the potential struggles and what to do in this period. You will also learn useful information about the actual labor, pushing, how to breathe and how to relax, so that the birth of the baby will cause you the least pain possible.

[attention type=yellow]So, your pregnancy is coming to its logical conclusion. The nursery has long been ready for the baby’s arrival, and you continue to tidy and straighten up. Perhaps, you noticed that your stomach has dropped, or maybe you have already lost the mucus plug. Dear readers, do not hesitate to share your feelings about this term, because it is now more important than ever.[/attention]

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