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It’s week 41 of your pregnancy, your due date has come and gone, but your baby is staying put! Don’t worry - overdue pregnancies are extremely common, and rest assured that everything is just fine. But the wait to delivery can often feel like a long one, and we are here to help you through that! Find out what to expect when you are 41 weeks pregnant and some tips and tricks through it.
41 weeks pregnant in months
At 41 weeks, you have completed 9 months plus one week of pregnancy. While this is officially considered late-term pregnancy, rest assured that there is no cause of worry.
To calculate your due date or estimated date of delivery (EDD), doctors consider the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP) as day 1, and add 280 days (40 weeks) to it, assuming a uniform 28 day month all the way till month 9. This is not an exact calculation, as each month actually has anywhere between 30 to 31 days. Studies have shown that most pregnancies last longer than the due date predicted by this method, so you’ve got plenty of company of other moms-to-be at 41 weeks!
Curious to know how your baby is doing at week 41? Read on to know how much she’s grown and what she’s up to!
How big is your baby at 41 weeks pregnant?
By this time, your baby has grown from a grain of rice to a size of a pumpkin! At an average, her weight is now almost 8 pounds (3.6 kg) and she is around 20.5 inches (51.5 cm) in length. Do remember that this is an average, and healthy babies come in different sizes and weight.
At this point, your baby may weigh anywhere between 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) to 9.9 pounds (4.5 kg), and be 18 inches (46 cm) to 22 inches (56 cm) in length.
Pregnancy week 41 fetal development
- Physical development: By now, your baby is fully developed in the womb, with all its vital organs developed enough for her to be ready for life after delivery. It continues to grow, though — its eyebrows, eyelashes, and hair are growing, and so are her finger and toenails!
- Fetal activity: Your baby’s big size at this stage means she takes up a lot more space in the uterus, so there is a change in the type of physical activity that you will feel. There may not be enough room left to do the furious kicks and flutters that you’d got used to. However, you will still feel some kicks and especially larger movements in the belly, for example when she turns over.
- Hormonal changes: Interestingly, your baby’s endocrine system, which produces hormones, is now gearing up to release hormones that play an important role in triggering labor. Recent research says that as your baby develops to full term, two proteins found in the baby’s lungs, activate genes that lead to the inducing of labor.
41 weeks pregnant belly
At this stage, your belly has grown quite heavy and your skin feels stretched quite tight and taut over it. If you put your arms around and underneath your belly, your fingers may not touch. You may see your stretch marks turning a vivid red or purple color, and your belly button might look as if it has turned outward.
This may also be the time when your baby starts to naturally descend in a position to ideal for delivery - and is said to be ‘engaged’, or commonly, called ‘baby dropping’. In this position, the fetus turns upside down, with her head engaged into your pelvic bone. This makes it look like your belly’s shape has shifted downward, and will put extra pressure on your bladder.
41 weeks pregnant symptoms
Your fully developed baby will now begin pressing against your pelvis and bladder — causing discomfort — find out what physical symptoms to look out for at week 41:
- Frequent urination. The fetus pressing against your pelvis and bladder means a lot more trips to the bathrooms. You may also notice leaking when sneezing or coughing.
- Pelvis pain. The pressure on your pelvis and cervix caused by the fetus may cause pain and discomfort along with pain in the lower back.
- Braxton Hicks contractions. These are contractions that start occurring during late pregnancy, often commonly called ‘practice contractions’. Unlike real labor contractions, these do not dilate your cervix and give you a chance to mentally preparing how to deal with labor. Make sure you stay hydrated and rest, and dehydration can trigger these contractions.
- Mucus discharge. You may also notice blood-tinged mucus discharge in your underwear - this is nothing to worry about and is, in fact, a sign that your cervix is softening and preparing for labor - which could still take many days.
- Cervix softening/effacing. Your doctor, upon internal examination, may notice your cervix dilation (opening) and thinning (also called effacing), in preparation for eventual labor. For some women, this is a gradual process and may take several days, while for some, the dilation may happen overnight!
- Hemorrhoids. The pressure by the fetus on your rectum, along with bulging veins due to increased blood flow in the pelvis can cause hemorrhoids, which can be quite annoying.
- Difficulty sleeping: The dehydration, discomfort, and reduced blood flow in some areas can cause leg and foot cramps, especially late at night. All of this can cause discomfort to prevent you from sleeping soundly.
While some doctors may recommend an ultrasound to check on the baby’s health, ultrasounds during late pregnancies are usually not advised and rarely needed. A study of over 30,000 pregnant women showed that the use of routine ultrasound in late pregnancy did not cause any additional benefit to the mother or baby.
Another test that may be used to check on the baby’s health, movement and heartbeat, is a Non-Stress test. This test records the response of the fetus when she goes from rest to movement, and during contractions, and is used to make sure she’s getting enough oxygen and is healthy.
Keep your diet healthy and wholesome, with lots of whole grain cereal, bread, fruit, and vegetables. These not only contain a good balance of all the key nutrient groups which you and your baby need, but will ensure a healthy growing baby after delivery as well.
A study has shown that consumption of fruits, vegetables and vitamin C by pregnant mothers resulted in increased growth of their children, up to 6 months of age.
It is also important to stay hydrated, so make sure to drink lots of water. Spicy food is said to help induce labor, though there is no medical study that has proven this, there is no harm in having some mildly spiced food too.
Sex at week 41 of pregnancy
Unless your doctor has specifically asked you not to, having sex at any point in the pregnancy is fine! In fact, some research has indicated that the physical activity involved in intercourse, as well as the high level of prostaglandin hormone in semen can soften the cervix and help trigger labor. So if you’re in the mood, we’d say go for it.
If you’re a roller coaster of emotions by now and can’t wait to have your baby - we totally understand! While some nerves are completely common, it is important to keep busy to avoid stress and anxiety. Here are some handy tips on what to do during Week 41 of pregnancy, to help keep you calm, and prepare for your little one’s arrival while you’re at it.
- Day 1. Let’s take a trip to the salon — get a relaxing manicure, pedicure, and a haircut too. It’s a good way to unwind and pamper yourself - you deserve it! Once the baby comes knocking, you might get caught up for a while before being able to make time again.
- Day 2. Go over our newborn essentials checklist and make sure you have prepared everything that is needed to welcome your baby. It will ensure you are ready to roll once the baby’s here.
- Day 3. Take a dip in a warm pool or tub — it will take some physical pressure off you, giving some time off the extra weight and unforgiving gravity you’ve been fighting all this while. Do make sure that the water is warm, and not too hot.
- Day 4. Put your favorite movies and shows on — watch your all-time favorites that make you laugh, and keep you entertained.
- Day 5. Add light exercise to your daily routine - go for a morning walk, or sign up for basic prenatal yoga classes. This will not only help keep you active and energetic but is also key in preventing early signs of postpartum depression. Studies have indicated a positive role of regular physical activity in managing postpartum anxiety.
- Day 6. Catch up and share your emotion with your loved ones, and there must be a hundred things on your mind. Sharing your feelings with those who care for you — your partner, family member, an old friend - will make sure you know that you’re supported at this time of your life that can often seem daunting.
- Day 7. Get a prenatal massage by a therapist — it will help stimulate blood flow, ease any cramps, and help you relax. If a prenatal massage is not possible, ask your partner to turn into a massage magician and give you a nice, relaxing rubdown.
What to ask your doctor?
You should schedule a visit with your doctor to get a routine check up on the health of your baby and to get all your questions on labor and delivery answered.
Pain/discomfort. If you’re experiencing discomfort and pain, your doctor may be able to recommend ways to bring relief.
Labor induction. At this point, your doctor may ask whether you’re interested in inducing labor, which is a way in which labor is triggered through a variety of assisted methods. In many cases, induction may not even be necessary, and choosing whether to wait or to induce is a personal choice. You are free to discuss the pros and cons of both with your doctor in detail before your decision.
While waiting for your bundle of joy to arrive past the official due date may seem to be a nerve-wracking experience, it is extremely common and there’s likely no reason to worry.
The size of your belly may cause discomfort, there are remedies that you can adopt for relief. By following a fiber-rich, healthy diet, staying active and mentally engaged, you can keep off the stress.
Schedule a regular appointment with your doctor to keep a tab on your own and the baby’s health, and to answer any questions you may have on delivery and labor.
If you’d like to know about ways to induce labor, do discuss all the possible options and their pros and cons in detail with your doctor before decided if it is needed or not in your case.