40 Weeks Pregnant
Your due date is probably this week! Keep in mind, only a small percentage of women deliver on their actual due date. Don’t be surprised if your due date comes and goes without your big arrival. About half of all pregnant women deliver after their due date. But even if your little bundle is a bit tardy, it’s probably only a matter of a week or so before you meet your baby.
What’s happening with your body?
You may be so over being pregnant and can’t wait to deliver. Although some women continue to feel good, increased pelvic and bladder pressure, along with back pain may make you uncomfortable. Your breasts may be sore and leaking, which only adds to your discomfort.
It’s also common to have some trouble sleeping this late in the game. Other complaints may include increased heartburn and Braxton Hicks contractions.
But at 40 weeks, you may be showing some signs that labor is close. For example, you might notice the passage of your mucus plug. Although it may sound kind of gross, the mucus plug has an important role. It blocks the cervix and prevents bacteria from entering throughout your pregnancy.
The mucus plug is discharged as your cervix becomes soft, which is a good sign. But don’t assume labor will start any minute. While labor may be just hours away, some women lose their mucus plug a couple of weeks before labor starts.
If you don’t show any signs that labor is close, it’s normal to get frustrated. But you still have a week or so to go before you are considered post-term. Hang in there. It won’t be long now!
What’s happening with your baby?
Your little one is hanging out, just waiting for labor to start. His brain and nervous system are becoming more developed every day. At this point, your baby’s liver contains starch, which will be converted into glucose after your baby is born to help him process milk. His intestines are full of meconium, which will be his first poop after birth.
It’s common for your baby to move around less. But if you do a kick count, you should still be able to feel about ten movements an hour. If you have any concerns about your baby’s activity level, contact your doctor.
Your baby’s vision at birth is not all that clear, and you’ll look blurry to her at first. But don’t worry about your baby recognizing you, she has been hearing your voice for months.
Thing to keep in mind:
Even if you pass your due date this week, at some point, you will have your baby. If both you and your baby are doing well, your doctor may allow another week or so to go by to wait for labor to start naturally. But if your baby is still a no show, you’ll likely be induced week 41 or 42.
Usually a week or two after your due date, the placenta may start to breakdown and may be less efficient at providing nutrients to your baby. Also, your baby can get so big it makes a vaginal delivery more difficult.
If your doctor does recommend an induction, there are a few things you can expect. The techniques used may depend on whether you have started to dilate and if your cervix has softened.
In instances where your cervix is already soft and you have started to dilate, but labor has not started, your doctor may break your water. Breaking your water refers to popping a hole in the amniotic sac to make contractions stronger. Usually, you’ll doctor will wait until you’re at least a few centimeters dilated before breaking your water.
If your cervix is not even soft yet, a medication that contains prostaglandins will be inserted into your vagina to soften your cervix. This may be enough to get the ball rolling and bring on contractions.
There are also addition medications used to start labor. A medication called Pitocin is used to bring labor on and dilate your cervix. Pitocin is given intravenously over several hours.
After induction, it’s hard to say how long it will take to deliver your baby. Some women progress fast while for others, it may take several hours before they are ready to start pushing.