Time is up! With 40 weeks of gestation behind, many pregnant women feel the time to have baby is NOW! Predicting birth dates is an inexact science. There is a give of two weeks before and after the estimated date of birth. A pregnancy is not considered overdue until after the 42nd week. Rest assured, however, the fetus is fully-grown and ready to safely exist outside the womb.
There is nothing worse than making it to the 40th week only to not start active labor. At this point, the female abdomen is stretched beyond the imagination and some women have forgotten what their feet look like. Taking a shower requires help to reach all the nooks and crannies and there is barely enough room to fit in one glass of water, let alone eight glasses and 2400 calories.
Pregnant women who make it to week 40 may start bi-weekly office visits. If the pregnancy lasts past the 40th week, induction or C-section may be discussed with the physician. The placenta only works at optimal levels for 40 to 41 weeks.
Women who are expecting to give birth on a specific day are so ready by the time that day comes that going past 40 weeks is never a thought. It is not uncommon for pregnancies to last 41 to 42 weeks, but telling that to a woman who is in the 40th week of gestation is impossible. Try to stay calm and do not worry about baby. He (or she) is fine in the safety of the womb.
There are many old wive’s tales used to induce labor. Most of these are harmless and ineffective. If a pregnant woman comes across an induction method that seems unsafe, it should not be attempted by any means. Common home induction methods include having sex, taking a ride on a bumpy road and nipple stimulation. Sex and nipple stimulation may help, that bumpy road will just tear up tires and shocks.
From week 40 onward, the doctor will watch the expecting woman like a hawk. All bets are off after 40 weeks and symptoms of preeclampsia can come on quickly. There is also a higher risk of baby having a bowel movement in utero. Babies inhale amniotic fluid so if the fluid is laced with Meconium, infection and pneumonia can occur. These can be life threatening for baby.