If you’ve reached week 42 of your pregnancy, you’re not alone – your frustration at being past your due date is shared by around 15 per cent of pregnant women…

Your baby’s development

Your baby is coming out this week whether naturally or after you’ve been induced. Keep in contact with your midwife or doctor and make sure you keep track of your baby’s movements.
Some things to be aware of at this last stage of pregnancy are:
· The vernix caseosa that has been protecting your baby’s skin will have reduced significantly. This means your baby’s skin may be dry or peeling when he arrives.
· His nails will be surprisingly long and may need to be trimmed soon after birth to prevent him from scratching his face (some mums nibble them because it’s the most effective way to ensure you don’t snip their delicate skin). He might also have a decent head of hair.
· Babies who are born overdue tend to be very hungry. This is because the placenta hasn’t been delivering quite as much food as in the earlier weeks of your pregnancy.
Your physical pregnancy changes

By week 42 of pregnancy, you’re tired, you’re bored and you are swollen. Your waters could break at any moment so carry around a towel or some sanitary pads just in case you’re out and about when this happens.
Read on to learn more about the stages of lab our and what to expect in the final lead up to your baby’s birth. No one knows exactly what your labour will be like on the day but it helps to be prepared.

The thought of lab our can be quite daunting, especially for first-time mums. While it might be tempting to go into the delivery room ‘blind’, it’s better to be prepared for childbirth. Knowing what to expect from each stage of labour will help you to feel calmer and better informed about what’s happening (and why) during your birthing experience. 1,2,3 and breathe…
Childbirth: an overview

Lab our happens in three distinct stages. On average, childbirth lasts between 12 and 14 hours for first-time mums and around seven hours for subsequent babies. This is, however, just a guide and – like every other element of pregnancy – each woman’s experience is unique.
The first stage of lab our

Think you’re in lab our? Here are some of the early signs that suggest your baby is on its way:

· Contractions have started. These start off mild (feeling similar to menstrual cramps) and spaced roughly 10 minutes apart, but gradually get stronger, more frequent and last longer as labour progresses in order to push your baby down the birth canal.
· Your cervix dilates and thins. In this first stage, your cervix will dilate between 0cm to 8cm. You are only considered to be in active labour when your cervix is 4cm dilated. Be patient, it can take around 8 hours to reach the end of the first stage.
· Your water breaks. This is when the fluid in the amniotic sac ruptures (painlessly, ladies!), usually towards the end of the first stage of labour. Fluid may be expelled leakily or as a gush – there’s no telling how your sac will break. And some women won’t notice them breaking at all.
The end of this initial stage – known as transition – can be the most difficult period of labour. It lasts for around an hour with very intense contractions. You Take a deep breath and try to remember what you learnt at antenatal classes. Once you are 10cm dilated, you’re about to move into…
The second stage of lab our

With your cervix fully dilated, you are ready to push your baby out in to the world – and you will feel the urge to do so. At this point…

You have in the region of an hour of pushing ahead of you. Although you’ll be tired, with the end in sight you may feel more energised.
Contractions are around 60-90 seconds long, and coming at about 2-4 minute intervals.
You’ll feel the urge to push, known as bearing down, which is caused by your baby’s head pushing down on your pelvic floor and rectum. Your midwife will tell you when to push – do the best you can to listen to her instructions and ask for direction.
You’re on the way to the final push. When your baby’s head is fully visible (crowning) you are reaching the end of the second stage. As your contractions continue your baby’s head will be delivered. The midwife will check the umbilical cord is not wrapped around your baby’s neck. She may also turn the baby to help her shoulders out with the next contraction. After her head and shoulders are out the rest of your baby’s body will emerge quickly, followed by a rush of amniotic fluid.
Congratulations! Your baby is finally here.

The third stage of lab our