What’s going on in there: Fetal development at 42 weeks
Your baby is clearly comfy in there, even if you’re not. At 42 weeks pregnant, she is still growing but is the same size as last week: She is as big as a turkey dinner, weighing about 3.7 kilograms (8.1 pounds) and 52 centimetres (20.3 inches) long. However, some babies born in week 42 start to lose a bit of weight because, in some cases, the older placenta isn’t as effective at providing nutrients.
Her skin is probably dry, cracked and peeling in spots, especially on her hands and feet, because she has shed much of the vernix coating on her skin and been soaking in the amniotic fluid. Her nails may be getting long enough to extend past her fingertips, and she likely won’t have much lanugo, the fine, downy hair that covers babies in utero. She may have more hair on her head, though.
42 weeks pregnant symptoms
You may be feeling the same as the past few weeks but perhaps with a bit more intensity. Backaches, pelvic pressure, leg cramps and difficulty sleeping are all very common at this stage of the game. You may be feeling stressed, frustrated and impatient, too. But take heart: The wait is nearly over, and it really is babytime at last.
What’s on your mind this week
The countdown has been frustratingly protracted for you, but look at it this way: You’re off work, everything is ready and you’re going to be very, very busy—very soon. Savour the peace and quiet (and try to ignore everyone messaging you!). Chances are good that your baby is completely healthy and happy in there, but at 42 weeks pregnant, you’re at a higher risk of complications like low amniotic fluid, problems with the placenta and a pinched umbilical cord. Your healthcare provider will keep a close eye on you and your baby through ultrasounds, cervical checks and heart rate monitoring.
If you don’t go into labour naturally this week, your doctor or midwife will probably recommend inducing labour. Methods include breaking your water (we’ll warn you now, sometimes they use a device that looks like a crochet hook), doing a cervical sweep (where your doctor uses a gloved finger to swipe around the amniotic sac and release hormones that start contractions), applying prostaglandin gel to your cervix to dilate it or using an IV hookup with a synthetic drug that will mimic the hormone oxytocin (Pitocin) to start contractions. All of this can feel scary and daunting, so make sure to ask questions and talk about your concerns.
You may also be fretting about a long labour—one of the possible side effects of induction. Obviously, you can’t control the length of your labour, but there are some things you can do to conserve your strength. Moving around, taking pain meds to get you over the hump, doing breathing exercises you learned in prenatal class and having a supportive partner and birth team can go a long way toward helping you through labour. The sweetest approach? Focusing on holding your baby in your arms, and that wonderful new baby smell (there’s actual science behind it!).
Just for kicks
Yup, gestating a baby for 42 weeks is more like 10 1/2 months. Feel like you’re in the running for the longest pregnancy ever? You’re not even close. A Los Angeles woman named Beulah Hunter supposedly had the longest recorded human pregnancy, back in 1945. Her pregnancy lasted 375 days rather than the usual 280, putting her three months past her due date. (Her daughter, Penny, was born healthy.)
The clear winner in the animal world is the common frilled shark, which stays pregnant for—wait for it—three to five years! Other long-time pregnancies include elephants (22 months), walruses (15 to 16 months), sperm whales (14 to 16 months) and giraffes (13 to 15 months)—remember poor April the giraffe?
Give me an E! Elsie, Edie, Evelyn—the newest baby-name trend.
Pregnancy to-do list: Week 42
You’ve spent a long time waiting for your little one, and it’s helpful to anticipate what life will be like once she is actually here. Read up on the first week, including waiting for your milk to come in, soft spots on your baby’s head and peeling skin (both totally normal!), postpartum recovery and first baths.
And since your baby will be here soon (really!), then you might want to think about monthly milestone photos. We have 13 cute ideas to inspire you.
Loved beyond measure
If you want to keep track of your baby’s measurement the good ol’ fashioned way, this all-in-one backdrop and card set has you covered. Go with a blanket that has a ruler printed right on it and you can watch your baby’s progress with the included monthly cards. Lulujo “Loved Beyond Measure” Baby’s First Year Blanket and Cards Set: $25, lulujo.ca
But, really, your only job this week is to have the baby. Congratulations!