At 40 weeks pregnant you are finally at the completion of your pregnancy..!
You are excited, exhausted and anxious to finally hold your tiny baby in your arms. You probably have a lot of questions and concerns about this final week of pregnancy. This article will discuss what you can expect for you and your baby at 40 weeks pregnant.
Your baby at 40 weeks pregnant
At 40 weeks pregnant your baby is ready to make its first official appearance. He/she weighs anywhere between 7-9 pounds and is about 19-22 inches in length. At birth your baby’s eyesight will only have developed enough to see about 2.5cm away do they won’t be able to clearly see your face. However, the ears are fully developed so they will be able to recognize the sound of your voice.
After your baby is born, she/he will be evaluated and given an Apgar score. This is based upon muscle tone, activity, pulse, reflex irritability, skin coloration/appearance and respiration. Most babies average an Apgar score of seven with the highest being ten, but it is rare that a baby receives a perfect Apgar score so seven is both perfectly normal and acceptable.
Going beyond the 40 weeks
Statistically, over 50% of pregnancies will last longer than 40 weeks so don’t panic if you still haven’t delivered by this time. Your doctor will discuss your options. Most physicians will not let you go any further than 42 weeks without discussing either a c-section or inducing labor.
As you are continuing to visit your doctor weekly during these final days of your pregnancy, your doctor may administer a BPP (biophysical profile) which is an ultrasound that will specifically look for your baby’s movements, muscle tone, and breathing patterns. The doctor will also check to see levels of amniotic fluid to ascertain how well the placenta is supporting your baby. He may also perform a non stress test (NST) or fetal heart monitoring. They will also check for effractment to see if your cervix is “ripening” as it prepares for labor. Also they will also check to see if you are dalated at all.
At 40 weeks pregnant you will still experience many of the symptoms you have been having for the last few weeks. These include pelvic pain and pressure, tailbone pain, shooting pains in the legs due to your baby pressing on your nerves, itchiness, fatigue, frequent urination, stretch marks, breast tenderness and leakage, hot flashes, restless leg syndrome, edema, insomnia, and the nesting instinct.
Breaking waters at 40 weeks pregnant
A common misnomer about water breaking is that it will be a gushing rupture similar to a tidal wave. Realistically, most women only experience a slight trickle. Another misconception is that you will soon give birth after your water breaks. Most women will give birth 12-24 hours after their water breaks. Media has tended to blow this out of proportion and it is not nearly as dramatic as they portray it. You will be able to distinguish between urine leakage (which is common during the last few weeks of pregnancy) and water breakage is that the water breakage (amniotic fluid) will have no odor or color. If your water breaks and it the fluid looks greenish or blueish, contact your doctor immediately as this could mean that your baby has had an in utero bowel movement and this could be hazardous to both you and your baby.
Braxton Hicks contractions
At 40 weeks pregnant could still be experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions at this time, but chances are you are more than likely experiencing the real thing. Braxton Hicks contractions will decrease over time while true labor contractions will increase in strength and occurrence. True contractions will not go away if you change your position or activity and will increase in frequency. This is usually less than ten minutes apart and about five or more contractions per hour. Other signs that you are in labor include water breakage, bleeding and spotting, increased vaginal discharge that will look like a thick pinkish mucus, abdominal pains similar to menstrual cramps, nausea and diarrhea.
You will want to contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following: severe or heavy bleeding, dizziness, vertigo or fainting spells, blurred vision, intensive headaches, excessive thirst or dry mouth, inability to urinate, noticeable decrease in the baby’s movement, burning or pain during urination, and severe swelling. These could be indications of pregnancy complications so you don’t want to hesitate in seeking medical assistance.
Make certain to have your hospital bag packed and easily accessible. Also make sure that you have an updated copy of your insurance information and your birth plan. Everyone will probably want to be “on call” to help if you go into labor. Make sure to keep your cell phone fully charged in case you need to contact anyone, from your partner to your physician.
If you have still not delivered after 40 weeks, your doctor will discuss the possibility of inducing labor. If effacement or dilation of the cervix has not yet occurred, you will be admitted to the hospital and a medication containing prostaglandins will be inserted via your vagina. This will help ripen the cervix and can also help induce contractions. If this does not work, your doctor will then administer Picton (or oxytocin) through an IV to start contractions.