Baby Growth at 41 Weeks Pregnant
When you get to 41 weeks of pregnancy, it seems like your baby has opted for a late checkout, and who could blame them? They’ve got the best hotel room in the world! Most pregnancies last 37-42 weeks. Fewer than 5% of babies are born on their estimated due date so you aren’t alone. Many women who go over 40 weeks are not really post-term (past due). The due date is estimated based on your LMP (last menstrual period) and the size of your fetus is captured by an ultrasound that also helps give an estimate but we know the follicular phase varies from woman to woman so it’s possible you ovulated a little later than others so your due date could be off by a few days.
At 41 weeks of pregnancy, your baby is as big as a pumpkin (and probably feels that way too!). The fetus weighs 8.3 pounds and measures about 20.3 inches in length. Your baby’s endocrine system is gearing up for the big day, and it’s theorized that some of these hormones may help trigger labor to begin.
You and Your Body at Pregnancy 41 Weeks
By the time you’re 41-weeks pregnant, your health care provider will do tests to check on your baby, which will most likely be a non-stress test (fetal heart rate monitoring) and a fetal ultrasound (biophysical profile).
From the image of an ultrasound, you may find that the 41-week fetus is growing even longer hair and nails. Your baby may need a manicure and pedicure with a pair of baby nail clippers after birth. It can also track how active the baby is and check in on its overall health.
While performing a non-stress test, your provider will monitor the baby’s heart rate in response to their movements. Each time your baby moves, their heart rate should increase. Your doctor will use the results to determine whether or not it is necessary to do an induction. Don’t worry, the term “non-stress” means that they don’t do anything to actually stress the baby out during this test, it’s purely an observation of baby and is pretty special to listen to as a mother.
Typical Symptoms at 41 Weeks Pregnant
The 41 week symptoms you mostly have are a continuation of your other third trimester symptoms:
- Changes in fetal activity
- Pelvic discomfort
- Frequent urination
- Low-quality sleep
- Leaking fluid
Your baby should remain active right up until delivery. Keep paying attention to your baby's movements. You should still feel twists, rolls and kicks every day. If you notice a slowdown in activity that is obvious and noticeable, this could be the sign of a problem. Call your provider or midwife right away if they seem to decrease.
You're likely feeling pressure and heaviness in your pelvis as your baby has descended lower and lower toward the birth canal. To ease the stress on your pelvis, you can lie down on your left side. If you’re up for a walk, you can let gravity do the work by allowing that downward pressure to help stimulate labor.
That pelvic pressure can cause bulging veins in your rectum, also called hemorrhoids. Get the witch hazel ready! If you have them, hemorrhoids may get worse after pushing during labor. Eventually the swelling will die down and most hemorrhoids self-resolve.
It’s very common to have diarrhea or even nausea shortly before your labor. Your muscles, including those in your intestines and rectum, are loosening in preparation for childbirth.
Baby’s head is most likely right on top of your bladder now and you may experience bladder leakage when you cough, laugh or sneeze. Consider wearing a sanitary pad to stay dry if needed and don’t feel embarrassed, most women who are mothers have been there themselves before.
Not sleeping so well? Hormones and nerves are to blame for keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep, the added dread of knowing you should be sleeping now while knowing you’ll soon be up with your babies all hours can feel frustrating. Rest your body the best you can, even if you aren’t sleeping, your body is still benefiting from the rest.
You’ll likely experience more and more abdominal tightening that is happening more frequently now. Your first true contractions might feel like a low backache or menstrual cramps. If you are not sure if the contractions will lead to labor, call your provider or midwife and describe your symptoms in detail. They will most likely have you keep an early labor record, where you will measure the amount of time between contractions and length of each one. You should start to see a pattern as labor progresses. Depending on how far away you are from your birthing facility, your provider will tell you when you should come in.
Leaking fluid is another sign of your labor. You may observe a small gush, a slow leak, or a big gush of fluid. It’s best to give your doctor a call immediately if you think your water may have broken.
Pregnancy Week 41 Tips and Advice
Power off your screens an hour or two before bed to have a good night’s sleep. The blue light emitted from screens is known to mess with your circadian clock. We know it is hard to resist the temptation to scroll through social media and your Premom app!
You might lose some weight. At 41 weeks, the number on the scale may not go anywhere, or may even go down. It is a sign that your body is getting ready for labor.
Once in labor, your partner may have a hard time anticipating your needs especially if this is your first time. Try whatever helps you stay relaxed and comfortable, and don’t be afraid to share your needs with your partner.
Take it easy while you wait. It is challenging to see your estimated due date come and go. Do your best to relax and rest as much as possible and trust the innate ability of your body and its own unique physiological timing.
Your provider or midwife will want to monitor you and baby in week 41, so make sure to attend all necessary appointments and get the required tests. Don’t hesitate to call your provider’s office if you feel anything unusual, especially decreased fetal movement.
Eager to help labor get a move on? Here’s a few things you can do – with your doctor's approval – to help get your baby in a good position to stimulate labor.
- Sit/ bounce on a Birthing Ball. Sitting on a birthing ball in neutral wide-legged positions can help to increase blood flow, open the pelvis, and accelerate cervical dilation. Be careful not to fall down.
- Go on a walk. Pregnant women usually benefit from low-impact exercises, unless your provider says no. Walking encourages cervical dilation and helps the baby to drop in the pelvis.
Always talk with your health care provider about your plans to induce labor through exercise, especially if you have a high-risk pregnancy. Stop immediately if you have the following symptoms: shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, headache, vaginal bleeding, amniotic fluid leakage, abdominal pain, regular painful contractions, and calf pain or swelling.
Almost there! Whether your health care provider or midwife schedules an induction or suggests a wait-and-see approach, stay in touch and make sure you know what to do once the moment comes. In the meantime, do your best to enjoy the rest of your pregnancy. Also, don't forget to keep your hospital bag somewhere you and your partner can easily grab, that babe is coming any day now!