With your due date having come and gone, you’re now officially overdue – 41 weeks pregnant. Your healthcare provider will talk you through what might happen now but for the most part it is still a waiting game.
Your baby’s development
Feeling like your pregnancy’s lasting forever? No one can blame you. Your baby is now ready to join the world and the protective layer covering his skin is starting to be absorbed into the amniotic fluid. This means that when your baby is born he may be slightly wrinkly as the amniotic fluid may have dried out his skin a little, but it’s nothing a bit of gentle moisturiser can’t fix.
Your physical pregnancy changes
Your vaginal discharge will increase this week and should look white and watery. It may even turn more mucousy, which is a good sign – this is the mucous plug that has been preventing infection from entering the cervix falling away, which means your body is preparing for labour.
Your health and fitness during pregnancy
In these late stages you probably don’t want to go too far from home… just in case. However going for a walk can work wonders for naturally bringing on labour. Failing that, eating spicy food, nipple stimulation and having sex can also help.
Once you are over your due date you’re probably feeling extremely uncomfortable and frustrated. There’s not much to do except monitor your baby’s movements, wait and hope that your doctor will suggest induction.
Your doctor will always aim to do what’s best for you and the health of your baby, so try not to get too upset if induction is not an option just yet. Some babies need that time spent longer in the womb.
Your week 41 pregnancy checklist
· Buy a baby-friendly moisturiser incase your little one has dry skin when he is first born.
· Try out some fun ways of bringing on labour naturally.
· Watch out for signs of labour.
· Monitor your baby’s movements.
· Talk to your doctor about being induced.
· Read, watch TV, films, listen to music, rest – do whatever it takes to keep your mind occupied.
You feel like your belly is about to pop but your baby isn’t showing any signs of shifting. Here’s what happens when your labour hasn’t started and you want to encourage your baby into the world.
What are your options if you are overdue?
Your due date is calculated 40 weeks after the first day of your last period though most babies are born between 37 and 41 weeks.
If you’re only a few days overdue and you and your baby are healthy, most doctors won’t think about inducing labour. Some hospitals do have a policy however of not waiting to 42 weeks before induction. You may decide to have a membrane sweep to get things going, try some alternative therapies likeacupuncture or simply play the waiting game.
During a vaginal examination at your 40-week antenatal appointment, your obstetrician or midwife may gently sweep her finger across your cervix. This helps to stimulate the production of hormones that cause labour to start. A membrane sweep may be repeated at your 41-week antenatal appointment if labour is still not imminent.
Around one in four births in Australia are induced and the most common reason for an induction isprolonged labour (pregnancies that go beyond 42 weeks). Induction will normally be offered to you once your labour goes past 41 weeks.
Labour is artificially brought on by one of two ways and both treatments are administered once you are in hospital for a planned labour. If you have been induced you will be advised to stay in hospital as your labour will begin and your baby will be on his way. Labour may be brought on with:
· Prostaglandin: This is a hormone-like substance given by tablet, pessary or gel to stimulate your cervix . If labour hasn’t started after six hours you may be given another dose (pessaries only require one dose as the prostaglandin is released slowly over 24 hours).
· Syntocin: This is the synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin and is delivered through a drip. You’ll only be offered this after prostaglandin or if your contractions are weak. Expect close monitoring as it can cause strong contractions that may put your baby under stress.
Wait it out
If you and your doctor decide to wait and let labour take its course, you’ll have regular blood pressure andurine tests to check that all is well. Your baby’s heart will be listened to and your bump examined to see what position he’s in. You’ll also have vaginal examinations to see if your cervix is softening up for labour.
As time goes on you’ll also discuss inducing the birth. Most inductions are carried out by 42 weeks. The general concern is that after 42 weeks your placenta may not work as well and the supply of oxygen to your baby could be reduced.
How to make the most of this extra time
Be social: visit friends, go to the movies, call on your parents
Organise your kitchen: fill your freezer with easy, nutritious meals. See our recipes for great ideas
Put your feet up: read a book, get a pedicure
Go on a date with your partner: book a night out before the baby arrives
Get organised: sort paperwork, set up your online grocery account, clean out your wardrobe
5 natural ways to get your labour started
· Order a hot curry – while there’s no evidence to suggest it works, spicy food is also thought to inspire labour
· Engage in sexual activity – sex is thought to stimulate the release of the hormone oxytocin which causes contractions
· Go for a walk – walking encourages your baby to move into the right position
· Eat a pineapple – Pineapples contain the enzyme bromelain that’s believed to soften the cervixand bring on labour
· Stimulate your nipples – Rubbing them mimics a baby feeding and releases oxytocin
· Book in a session of acupuncture – From the limited research that’s been done acupuncture is considered safe at this stage of pregnancy and may be effective in inspiring bub to come out
Or you could…
· Wear your best underwear. Your waters are bound to break as soon as you clamber into something pretty!
What not to say to an overdue pregnant woman
· Are you sure you’ve got your dates right?
· Have you had it yet?
· Whoah! Who ate all the pies?
· Are you having twins?
· Have you tried…?
· Don’t sit there. Your waters might break!