Pregnancy Week 40

So, finally week 40 is here. It means your due date is here. It may have seemed to you pretty long to reach this week when you first saw that extra line as a positive indicator of your pregnancy. Pregnancy sickness may be far distant memory for you as you are now only focusing on the fact that you will soon going to be a mom. Although, you must have thoughts of not reaching this milestone but Congratulations, for getting all through this and entering in the most awaited time.

Now you feel and look comfortable and can’t bear this pregnancy anymore. It’s hard to think about anything else apart from the delivery and baby. Well, you will probably get into labor in this week provided you are not overdue.

Growth and Development of Baby

This is the moment which will mark the official end of your pregnancy. Your baby probably weighs around 7 ½ pounds and 20 inches long. The skull bones are still not fused to allow for “molding” which means overlapping of bones while passing through birth canal.

While still in the womb, you are continuously giving your baby antibodies to let him fight with the infections. In case you breastfeed after birth, you will provide him with more antibodies. The baby’s immune system will be most boosted with first thin clear yellowish precursor of breast milk called colostrum which is super rich in antibodies.

The baby’s endocrine system is working hard to get your baby out of the womb. The baby’s hormonal system releases some hormones in placenta which actually triggers the labor. Actually, this is the baby’s indication that he wants to come out. During birth, baby will produce lots of stress hormones than ever he does in his life. These hormones though named stress, but are quite useful for baby to let him survive and prepare for the life outside womb when he will be disconnected with the placenta that has provided life support to your baby in the past nine months.

Post Delivery

After delivery, the major mystery of the gender will be solved. You may expect your baby as picture perfect chubby babies but they are swollen due to their birth journey in birth canal. The babies have puffy eyes and cone-shaped head.

Apart from this, they are wrapped up in his travel dust which consists of blood, vernix, lanugo and amniotic fluid. You may give the first look to your baby quite affectionate but from your baby’s point of view, he/she has a blurry vision. The babies at birth can see clearly only from an inch away. However, you can always say hello to him as he can very well recognize your and your partner’s voice.

After birth, the big job that baby had to do is taking the first breath in the air. This first breather requires effort as the air sacs need to be inflated so they expand fully to allow easy and comfortable breathing for the rest of his life.

After birth, babies tend to remain in curled position as they were in womb. It takes them few months to realize that they have space to spread out.

Most of the first time mothers go over their due date by a week while second time mums generally overdue by three-four days. Everything will be clear with your this week antenatal appointment.

Labor Induction

Last week, we discussed about inducing labor and why doctors do that. In this week, we will discuss about the different methods which doctors use to induce labor in pregnant women. They can use one of the following methods:

  • Membrane stripping: for this, doctor will insert her gloved fingers inside your cervix and sweeps the thin amniotic membrane which connects wall of uterus with amniotic sac. This induces your body to release prostaglandins which in turn soften the cervix and starts labor. The process is very painful and you may experience intense cramping and mild spotting too.
  • Dilating of cervix: If your doctor sees that cervix is still not ready for delivery, they may give you certain medications or devices which will soften cervix and dilate it. These medicines are actually synthetic prostaglandins which are given either through mouth or inserted in vagina.
  • Breaking amniotic sac: If you waters don’t break on its own, doctors may opt for artificial rupturing of amniotic sac. This is done when cervix is dilated and baby’s head has moved down into the pelvis. Once the waters break, you may go into labor a few hours later.
  • Oxytocin or pitocin: This is a synthetic hormone which induces contractions or can make your contractions stronger.

Apart from these medical ways, there are some natural ways also to induce labor. However, you must not opt for any method without doctor’s approval as they can be harmful at times depending on individual pregnancy. Some of them are discussed below.

  • Making love: It is said that semen contains prostaglandins that induces labor. Apart from that orgasm can kick start your contractions. However, there is no proof of this method necessarily working.
  • Nipple simulation: Stimulating nipples is a natural and powerful way to induce labor. This causes release of oxytocin which starts uterine contractions. However, one must not try the same at home as at times, it can over stimulate the uterus which may be dangerous for your baby. The baby’s heart beat can slow down with overstimulation.
  • Simple walking: If you are feeling irregular contractions you may try walking as it may stimulate labor. When you walk, your baby moves further down into your birth canal for delivery. Moreover, you will be relieved from the discomfort of contractions.
  • Castor oil: Castor oil is a string laxative, foul smelling and bad taste oil. It stimulates bowels and thus can cause severe diarrhea if taken without doctor’s advice. However, it is said that this oil will trigger some spasms in colon and intestines surrounding the uterus which in turn stimulate the uterus too.
  • Herbal remedies: There are certain herbs which are said to induce labor. However, it is quite doubtful to say about the safety and effectiveness of these herbs. So, make sure you take advice before taking or using any.
  • Evening primrose oil: This oil softens the cervix thus preparing your body for delivery. However, you must consult your doctor for its perfect dosage.
  • Spicy foods: Though, there is no scientific evidence behind this bit some say that food containing garlic, cumin and other spicy foods may trigger labor.

There is no proven way to say that all above mentioned methods are safe and effective for all. They will only work if your cervix is ripe and ready for delivery. However, one must not use or apply any method before 40 weeks as the baby is still maturing before that.

Changes in Mother’s Body

You are in your full term now. You are having vivid and weird dreams of when and where your delivery will be. You must be remembering all those horror stories you must have watched when women delivers baby in the middle of the traffic jam or in a mall. But, don’t worry; the reality will be far more comfortable and different from that.

  • This week, your Braxton Hicks Contractions are being more severe as providing oxygenated blood to the uterus and the baby. If they turn painful and regular, call your doctor.
  • As the baby has dropped into your pelvis, you will notice a change in your appearance. Some old experience people can tell that your baby is dropped and you will soon enter into labor. Though, with this, you get relief in breathing but the urination problem is severely aggravated.
  • As the baby is engaged into the pelvis, there is sense of heaviness and congestion down there. You may feel as if you are holding your baby in when you are standing. At this stage, your pelvic muscles have to do a lot of work, so, do some favor to them by finding comfortable position to sit. This is the time when you should sit back and enjoy reading books or watching movies.
  • You may develop a nesting phenomenon in which you see dirt and dust lurking in every corner of the house and you develop a frenzy of cleaning. Well, this activity makes sense when you want a safe, clean and hygienic environment to welcome your baby.

Some Important Tips to Consider

  • Do not plan long day and far away outings.
  • Cut back your physical activities and take as much rest as possible. However, walking about 30 minutes a day is still good exercise for you.
  • Be aware of your early signs of labor which can be sudden gush of fluid from vagina, painful uterine contractions or continuous pain in your lower back.

Anticipation, anxiety, excitement and impatience, this is what you are going through. You have been eagerly waiting for this week and every day of the week seems like a long month. On top of that, your friends and relatives must be calling you again and again to hear the news from you. Well, this is what every pregnant woman has to go through. Just try to ignore and concentrate on some good activities.