What’s going on in there: Fetal development at 41 weeks
At one week overdue, you have probably literally said, “What is going on in there?” By 41 weeks pregnant, your baby is typically about 3.6 kilograms (7.9 pounds) and 52 centimetres (20.3 inches) long. He is the size of a pumpkin or watermelon (just a slightly bigger one than last week). His skin may be starting to peel a bit after such a long soak in amniotic fluid. Research suggests that his endocrine system, which is in charge of producing hormones, is getting ready to send out hormones that will trigger labour, although the exact process isn’t actually known. (Other research points to two proteins in the developing lungs, which enter the amniotic fluid and send a signal to the uterus to start contractions.)
41 weeks pregnant symptoms
Now officially past your due date, you are probably feeling pretty “over it” and so ready to meet your little one. Do you feel like a kid on Christmas Eve, waiting to meet the newest member of your family? It’s pretty wild. Or maybe you’re experiencing a strange mix of frustration, irritability and excitement? Add in backaches, pressure on your bladder and cervix as the baby descends further into your pelvis and general feelings of discomfort, which are all part of being extremely pregnant. (It’s also possible that you feel like a tranquil birthing-goddess Earth mama. Enjoy it!) You may be noticing more Braxton Hicks contractions, where your belly is tightening, as your body prepares for the real deal.
It’s not just nerves, hormones and the need to pee that are keeping you up at night; sudden leg, foot and calf cramps are common in late pregnancy, especially at night. (They’re caused by dehydration and the weight of the baby reducing your blood flow.) To help quell the pain, point your toes up, toward your knee, to help stretch the muscle. With your foot in this flexed position, carefully and slowly make circles with your lower leg. Ask your partner to massage the cramped muscle to get more blood flowing to it.
What’s on your mind this week
Only about 10 percent of women don’t give birth by the end of this (41st) week, or one week after their due dates. Your doctor or midwife will continue to monitor you and your baby carefully through an office visit, an ultrasound and possibly another non-stress test to make sure that the baby has a good heartbeat, is moving well and has enough amniotic fluid. A small percentage of overdue babies will have health problems, possibly because the placenta is getting older and fewer nutrients, blood and oxygen are reaching the baby. This is why your midwife or doctor will want to talk to you about inducing labour if you don’t go into labour spontaneously.
An average of one in five Canadian women have induced labours, although some are due to health conditions like pre-eclampsia, not an overdue baby. Induction carries a higher chance of intervention, such as forceps or vacuum delivery, so if you are with a midwife, your care may be transferred to a doctor. (Your midwife may still be able to assist with labour and delivery, depending on your hospital’s policy.)
If your cervix hasn’t started to soften, your doctor may apply a prostaglandin gel directly to help dilate it. Or your doctor may insert a Foley catheter into your vagina and inflate the catheter to stretch your cervix, followed by an IV drip of Pitocin, which mimics the hormone oxytocin, to start contractions. In natural labour, the contractions increase slowly and less regularly, but induced labour can be more painful (sorry) because the contractions are faster and more regular.
Just for kicks
A sense of humour is a powerful tool. While you’re gearing up for labour (which really is going to happen anytime now, we promise), check out this video about what not to say to a woman in labour. Is there anyone you should send it to in advance?
This piece sparked some backlash when the Clooney twins, Alexander and Ella, were born. Did you like George and Amal’s classic, simple name choices? Why we were so underwhelmed by the Clooney twins’ names.
Pregnancy to-do list: 41 weeks
If you already tried all the old wives’ tales (and your friends’ not-so-helpful suggestions) for inducing labour last week, just do what you can to stay chill, comfortable and distracted: a swim, a walk, lunch with friends, music or a fun non-baby book. (You might not have the energy—or the peace and quiet—to read a novel for a long while after the baby is born.) Or maybe you’d like to pick one of these cute necklaces, rings or bracelets to celebrate your new baby. Shopping is always a good way to kill time.
Alex and Ani bangles
If you want to honour your newborn with something simple, Alex and Ani have many gorgeous options to choose from. You could go with initial bangles, stamped with script letters and available in a gold or silver finish. Want a stack of bangles? Pair your initial bracelet with a birth-month bracelet that features a Swarovski crystal or your child’s zodiac sign. If you want something that focuses more on your baby, check out the stork (in pink and blue) and baby-block charm bangles.
Initial, zodiac, baby-block and birth-month bangles, $28 to $32 each, alexandani.com