Welcome to your due date! After 40 very long weeks through pregnancy, the final day is finally here when the baby will be welcomed into the world.
When to head to the hospital
By the 40th week, your doctor will already have discussed with you about the appropriate moment to head to the hospital for delivery. Many doctors encourage moms to head to the hospital sooner rather than later especially if their pregnancies are classified as risky. If the pregnancy is very risky, you will be required to go to the hospital immediately the first sign of labor is noted while others are told to observe the contractions for about 2 hrs.
However, when the water breaks, you must head to the hospital irrespective of the level of labor because delivery should take place a short while after.
Size of Baby at 40 Weeks Pregnant
Your baby is about the size of a small pumpkin.
The baby is about 51.2 cm(20.16 inches) and weighs 3462 grams(7.63 pounds).
If labor does not start on its own, you may be advised to have it induced so that you can deliver. Note that after the 42nd week, the placenta becomes less effective in the delivery of nutrients and the baby and can bring a lot of complications.
Some mothers may prefer induced labor for convenience and medical reasons. About 20% of pregnant moms undergo induced labor. However, it is not recommended before the 38th week.
- Common methods of labor induction: The following are common methods used to induce labor on your due date;
- Membrane stripping: In this method, the doctor places gloved fingers inside the cervix and then sweep the amniotic membranes. This stimulation results in the production of prostaglandins that soften the cervix for labor and delivery.
- Dilating the cervix: If your cervix is still not ready for delivery during the 40th week, the doctor can use medication to soften it. In many cases, the doctor injects you with synthetic prostaglandins to help kick start the process of labor.
- Rapturing amniotic sac (amniotomy): In this process, the doctor uses a plastic hook to rupture the amniotic sac and thereby inducing labor. In many cases, you will get into labor within minutes of amniotic sac rupture.
- Using Picotin or Oxytocin: These are synthetic hormones that will commence contraction of the uterine muscles and start the process of labor. The medication may be used to make the contractions stronger during delivery.
- Natural methods of labor induction: If you are thinking of using natural methods to induce labor, it is very crucial to take extra care to avoid harming the baby. Natural methods that will stimulate uterus contractions and make you go into labor include;
- Making love with your partner in the 40th week: While this is a method of helping you feel closer to him, sexual intercourse is believed to help induce labor naturally.
- Walking: If you are having irregular contractions, walking will help the baby move further down the birth canal and commence labor. Walking is also a good method to get relief from discomforts that are common in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
- Nipple stimulation: This is a very powerful method you should consider utilizing. By stimulating the nipples, the body starts releasing oxytocin that works like the synthetic Picotin. However, stimulating the nipples can cause long contractions and risk slowing down the baby’s heart rate.
- Using castor oil: In the past, midwives suggested using castor oil for pregnant women who were past their due date. However, you should not consider this method without the recommendation of the doctor because castor oil has a very bad taste and will lead to a lot of diarrhea and vomiting.
Post Term pregnancy
A post-term pregnancy is when pregnancy goes beyond the 42nd week. This raises the risk of the baby being born still (without a heartbeat), overly large, and with high fetal distress. However, only 10% of pregnancies go to the post-term session because many babies are born between the 37th and 42nd weeks.
The best thing to do here is ensuring you keep relaxing as much as possible and wait for labor. If there are no signs of labor yet, the doctor will discuss with you various methods of inducing it in the 40th week.
Signs of labor in the 40th week
If you have not reviewed the sign of labor by now, you need to grasp them well because it is what you will be experiencing may be in the next few hours or days.
- Lightening: This means the baby shifts to the pelvic area. This may come with a lot of discomforts and regular pelvic pain.
- Flue like symptoms and diarrhea: A couple of hours before delivery, diarrhea and frequent bowel movement are common occurrences. There is a feeling like you are battling nausea again.
- Cervix dilation and effacement: Though you might not be aware of it, the cervix continues to thin and open helped by Braxton Hicks contraction. By the time you will be ready to give birth, the cervix will have opened with about 10 cm.
- The water breaks: By the time the water breaks, you should be experiencing regular contractions. The breaking of the amniotic sac indicates that the baby is ready to come out into the real world anytime.
- Contractions: When you get into labor, real contractions will start being felt. To begin with, the contractions will be about 10-20 minutes apart but will get closer as labor progress. When the contractions hit an interval of every 5 minutes every hour, pick your maternity bag and head to the hospital.
Things to do during the 10th week
- This is a week to relax and wait for labor and your baby. Take most of the time enjoy the coolness of the house and relaxing by the poolside.
- Keep following the false contractions to note the onset of labor.
- Read through your favorite book or magazine because you have a lot of time to relax.
- Keep talking to the baby and reading to him/her lovely pages from your favorite book. You might consider doing this together with your partner.
- Check to confirm everything is well packed in the hospital bag.
- Keep adding the list of mobile phone numbers of people you would like first to know after you deliver.
- Talk to your doctor preferably everyday briefing him/her about the contractions and any other sign you might have noticed.
- Keep doing mild exercises such as walking, preparing light meals, and swimming.
- Continue shopping for your baby clothes and other accessories such as toys and books.
- Look and read through publications on baby care to become a great mother after delivery.