41 & 42 Weeks Pregnant
Your Pregnancy Week by Week
Everyone thinks that pregnancy is supposed to last nine months - when in reality a full term baby should be delivered somewhere around 40 weeks, so that makes your full gestation 10 months start to finish. As those final weeks wrap up, bringing you ever closer to your due date, your nerves are shot, your sleep habits are shot and you haven't seen your feet in months. Let your baby stay in a week or two past that much anticipated circled square on the calendar and you may be considering begging your doctor for an induction - if you haven't been already. So before you jump on the mower, take up power-walking or down that whole bottle of castor oil, there are a few factors to understand about delivering a baby that's overextending their stay.
In reality a post-dates or overdue baby presents certain risks for delivery and can send up red flags of preparation to the nurses and medical staff caring for you, just as they would for the delivery of a very early baby. It is estimated that only 3%-5% of all pregnancies will extend beyond their due date to 42, or heaven forbid - 43 weeks at the most. The majority of physicians will start talking induction somewhere around that 41st week, and unless you just refuse and want to give your body a bit more time to try, it's time to consider getting the old Pitocin ball rolling.
Baby's EnvironmentThe environment within the womb is designed to sustain a pregnancy for a select amount of time. As the pregnancy progresses the body recognizes that baby is ready for delivery and the processes that have sustained your baby to this point begin to age, slow function, and lose their effectiveness. Placental function - which has been responsible for the transportation of oxygen and nutrients to baby will begin to slow. Often, an ultrasound will show calcifications or hardened spots on the placenta as it begins to age and your physician may monitor this weekly once you near your due date. Still births or the delivery of a baby who is no longer living are higher for post-dates babies as well.
The protective waxy substance known as Vernix that has protected your baby's skin until now will begin to shed - leaving baby's skin exposed to the moisture around it. This isn't really a problem, except that your little one will look like he's been in the bath too long when delivered, and the skin will often be brittle, dry and peeling once he or she dries off.
Baby's WeightIt goes without saying that your baby's weight will also be an issue. You may already feel like you are packing a toddler in your abdomen, but as the weeks progress your baby is continuing to gain more than just a few ounces - packing on as much as a pound or more in a very short amount of time. This weight gain could mean the difference between delivering a 7 pounder and a 9 pounder. Large babies pose a significant delivery risk because they are more likely to suffer a birth injury, fractured collar bone, shoulder dystocia, or require forceps or vacuum extraction assistance.
Moms who deliver large babies also face more than twice the risk for a C-section if the baby is unable to descend through the birth canal. If you are able to deliver vaginally, you may expect a larger than average tear to the muscles of your pelvic floor (the muscles that stretch between the vagina and rectum). This is especially common if your baby is extracted with forceps or a vacuum. In fact, tears to and through the rectal sphincter are more likely to occur with this method of delivery.
Fear Not...It may sound scary, but your doctors and nurses are highly skilled and ready to care for you and your baby effectively at the first sign of a complication. There's no guarantee that any of these complications will happen to you, so do your best to look forward to your delivery and the end of those many weeks of waiting. Your baby will be here soon!