By the end of the 40th week, you are ready to give birth! Fatigue, pain, swelling, and abdominal weight alone are enough to keep women in bed until labor pains begin. For the baby, week 41 is nothing more than an extended vacation. The baby will continue to store fat and practice breathing throughout the 41st week. As long as the placenta is in good working order and amniotic fluid levels are good, the s/he is fine.
You may be feeling pretty heavy by the 41st week. Giving birth is probably on your mind all the time, but doctors typically like to wait until the 42nd week to try medical induction methods. About 50% of all pregnancies end up being termed “overdue.” The reason doctors like to wait to induce is the fact that nearly all due dates are off by a few days plus or minus. A pregnant woman that has not gone into active labor by the end of the 40th week was probably not due until week 41 or so.
At the prenatal visit
Unless there are medical or other complications the 41st week is not yet considered “overdue” enough for medical intervention. The exception to this rule includes women who are experiencing higher than normal blood pressure or other symptoms of preeclampsia. If a fetal ultrasound shows any distress on the fetus, medical induction or a C-section may be ordered. Your doctor or midwife will monitor you and your baby closely for any signs of distress.
Be patient. Pregnancy makes you tired and emotional. Intimacy is not on her mind, but sex can be a form of natural induction. Natural induction describes methods of starting labor that are not medical in nature. Other natural methods include walking, drinking castor oil, and eating spicy food.
Tips for this week
Natural induction is a viable option if are ready to give birth and have not moved into active labor by the 41st week. Natural induction methods can include nipple stimulation and sex. Nipple stimulation releases some of the same hormones used by the body to ripen the cervix during active labor. Instead of sitting around stimulating just the nipples, why not include sex as part of the natural induction process.
Sex works two-fold to induce labor. The first is the effect of semen on the cervix. Semen helps to ripen, efface, and dilate the cervix. The second is the effect of the female orgasm on the cervix. When an orgasm occurs, the cervix dips down to optimize semen pick up for fertilization. Even though conception has already occurred, the movement continues to occur. Movement of the cervix could be enough to dislodge the mucus plug and move mom closer to labor.