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Reaching the 41st week is considered as post – term pregnancy. Did you know that about 70% of all pregnancies are longer than 40 weeks? As a matter of fact, passing the 40th week does not necessarily equate to overdue but a miscalculation of due date.
The mother in week 41
The mother – to – be’s body is as ready for labor and delivery as it will ever be at 41 weeks pregnant. In line with this, below are the following symptoms which will still be present during this week:
Week 41 symptoms
Labor contractions are the rhythmic waves of the hardening and softening sensation in the uterus. These contractions serve as the body’s mechanism of pushing the unborn baby down the birth canal in preparation for labor and delivery.
It is an intricate process where the fetus’ brain sets off a chain of chemical messages that triggers a chain of reactions to the hormones of the mother. This in turn signals the prostaglandin and oxytocin hormones which are responsible for triggering contractions.
Did you know that 15% of mothers – in – waiting experience water breakage right before labor and delivery begin? Water breakage refers to the bursting of the amniotic sac where the brain signals the fetus that he is ready to be born for the next several hours.
When the water breaks, the vagina discharges slow trickles of odorless and achromatic amniotic fluid. If the fluid is yellowish in color and smells like ammonia, it is probably urine.
Furthermore, water breakage varies from woman to woman. A pregnant woman must seek immediate medical attention if she experiences the following scenarios:
- If the fluid is contaminated (greenish or brownish in color) which indicates that the baby had his 1st bowel movement (meconium) while inside the uterus
- If water breakage occurred in the 37th week or less
- Cord prolapse – did you know that only 1% of all pregnancies experience cord prolapse? Cord prolapse is a rare condition where the umbilical cord comes out of the uterus with or before the baby
Bloody show refers to the gushes of brown tinged mucous discharge (streaked with blood sometimes) which is a sign that labor is expected within the next several days. This happens when the blood vessels rupture due to cervical dilation and effacement.
Keep an eye on the bloody discharge, consult a medical practitioner if a soon – to – be mother witnesses a bloody show which ensembles the following scenarios below:
- Heavy discharge (about more than two tablespoonful of blood) that is bright red in color
- Placenta previa, a pregnancy complication where the placenta is burrowed deep in the uterus and partially covers the cervix
- Placenta abruption, also called as abruptio placentae, is the vaginal bleeding accompanied with abdominal pain due to the separation of placenta from the uterine wall
Pregnancy – induced diarrhea
Pregnancy – induced diarrhea is commonly experienced during the latter stages of gestation since the muscles (particularly the gastrointestinal muscles: intestines and rectum) begins to loosen up in preparation for childbirth.
Apart from that, here are the other factors of pregnancy – induced diarrhea:
- Increased appetite
- Excess water intake
- Pre – natal vitamin intake (for some)
Pelvic pain and pressure
Did you know that about 80% of pregnant women experience pelvic pain and pressure during the final trimester? Soon – to – be moms experience this because the unborn baby has burrowed deep in the pelvic cavity (engagement) facing the birth passage.
Furthermore, pelvic pain differs from pelvic pressure. Pelvic pain is when a pregnant woman is having difficulty in walking as though her pelvis is tearing apart. On the other hand, pelvic pressure is when the pelvis and rectum feels cramped (like that of menstrual cramps).
More frequent urination
Expect more frequent urination this week now that the unborn baby has dropped into the pelvic region with his head squarely pressing the bladder. What is far worse is that, there are instances where whenever she coughs, laughs, or sneezes, the urine leaks.
Cervical dilation or effacement
Cervical dilation (opening) and effacement (thinning) is a pre – labor sign that the cervix is gearing up for childbirth. This gradual process provides an opening from the uterus to the birth canal for the baby to pass through during the delivery day.
Throughout the process, the cervix will dilate for about 3 centimeters during early labor and 7 centimeters by active labor. Furthermore, this can dilate up to 10 centimeters (full cervical dilation) which indicates that it is time to start pushing the baby out.
Did you know that about half of all pregnancies experience hemorrhoids during the last trimester? Hemorrhoids (also called as piles) refer to the bulging varicose veins in the rectal wall that is downright painful. This symptom is cause by the following factors:
- Pressure caused by the expanding uterus
- Increased blood flow to the pelvic region
Fetal development in week 41
Did you know that less than 5% of fetuses arrive on the due date given by their Ob – Gyne? In addition to that, studies show that 50% pregnancies are overdue. Surprisingly, there are still a lot of fetal developments which needs to be done at week 41 such as:
- Primarily, because of his extra week in the womb, the unborn baby is likely to be heavier and more alert at birth compare to those who are born earlier. Unfortunately, babies who are born past their due date are more prone to various health complications.
- As of this week, the average fetus stretches for about 18.9 – 20.9 inches and tips the scales roughly at 6.2 – 9.2 pounds, and he is plumping up a bit more.
- Fetal heart rate quickens whenever he moves or changes positions inside the uterus.
- Fetal activities and movements tend to slow down during the latter stages of gestation. This is because the unborn baby is too cramped up inside the womb since he finally reached his full size and weight now.
- Vernix caseosa – the cheesy substance which serves as a protective coating on his skin has already subsided. Without it, his skin begins to peel and crack during the 41st On the bright side, a fresh layer of skin will replace so there is no need to treat it once he is born.
- The baby – in – waiting is about to take his very first breath of fresh air at any time of the day now. During his childbirth, the first breath requires a lot more effort than any breath he will ever take. That is because the air sacs in his lungs need to be inflated first before they expand and function.
- His endocrine system – which is responsible for hormone production, research even shows that these hormones signals the placenta when it is time for labor to begin. By the same token, production of stress hormones is at its peak while he is still a newborn baby than any other time of his life. Despite of its name, hormones will help the newborn to rapidly adjust to the outside world by strengthening his survival instincts since he is now unattached to the placenta which served as his life support for almost a year.
- His nails have extended past the toes and fingertips.
- Hair on his scalp continues to grow.
- If the baby is to be born during the 41st week, leftovers of vernix caseosa are still noticeable. Those delivered naturally tend to have distorted heads and bulging eyes.
Pregnancy tips and to do’s
41 weeks pregnant serves as the 1st extra week of the 3rd (and final) trimester. While a mother – to – be is waiting for her baby’s arrival, keep in mind to continue doing the following tips and to do’s to ensure the baby’s safety and well – being:
Things to do during the 41st week of pregnancy
Arrange an ante – natal appointment
Arranging an ante – natal appointment during the post – term weeks is necessary for the following purposes:
- Dating scan – to check if the estimated due date is correct
- To measure blood pressure
- Urine test for protein
- To check the fetal position
- To check the baby’s size
- Vaginal examination to check the cervix softness and flexibility
- To check how low the baby’s head is in the pelvis
- Bishop score
A membrane sweep is a process which induces labor to lessen the chances of being overdue. Membrane sweeping is an internal action where the Ob – Gyne separates the membranes of the amniotic sac which surrounds the unborn baby from the cervix.
To lessen the frequency of trips to the bathroom, do the double voiding. Double voiding is trying to urinate right after she just finished urinating to ensure that the bladder is completely emptied.
What to avoid in week 41
Engaging in vices
Vices are considered as immoral practices since it is harmful to the body especially for pregnant women. With that being said, below are the following vices which she must consider avoiding:
- Smoking cigarettes or e – cigarettes
- Chewing tobaccos
- Drinking alcoholic beverages
- Sleeping aids
Substances with caffeine content
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant which disrupts the sleeping cycle of both parties; it is also a form of psychoactive drug (diuretic) which triggers a more frequent urination during gestation.
Aside from coffee, here are the following substances with caffeine content that an expectant mom should avoid:
- Soft drinks
- Energy drinks
- Some herbal teas
- Regular colas
Diarrhea – trigger foods
To lower the instances of diarrhea, steer clear the following foods that will worsen the symptom such as the following:
- Dried fruits such as prunes
- Fatty and/or fried foods
- Spicy foods
- Milk (for lactose intolerant moms)
Beverages with high – sugar content
Beverages with high – sugar content draws water into the gastrointestinal tract resulting to diarrhea. An expectant mom must avoid drinking the following high – sugar drinks below:
- Apple juice
- Grape juice
- Soft drinks
Do not cut back on the fluid intake
Cutting back on the fluid intake will not keep a pregnant woman from having a lot of trips to the bathroom. Staying well – hydrated is a must since the female body and the unborn baby needs a steady supply of fluids during gestation.