You probably never expected to be able to say that you're 41 weeks pregnant, right? As devastating as it can be to watch your long awaited due date come and go without even a hint of a contraction, it's completely normal and many women find themselves playing the waiting game for a little longer than anticipated.
Fortunately, Baby is fine chilling out in your uterus for a while longer and even though you may be anxious and excited to meet your little one, unless there's any risk to you or the baby your Midwife probably won't recommend medical intervention just yet. Hang tight, it'll happen soon!
Baby: What's Happening?
Your baby is ready to be born, but he or she is just so comfortable in the womb that they're taking their time in making a move. About 50% of babies are born after their due dates, so rest assured your baby isn't the only slow mover around!
Baby is continuing to put on weight, and will continue to do so at a steady weight while they're still in the uterus as nutrition is regulated by the placenta. Your baby could weigh around 8 or 8.5 lbs now, and Moms who go overdue are more likely to have bigger babies. A baby who's a little bigger than average is nothing to worry about. In fact, it can be beneficial as many babies lose quite a bit of weight in their first week or so as they start feeding from the breast or bottle.
You: What's Happening?
Fed up? No one would blame you. After having your due date imbedded in your head for the past months, it can be heartbreaking when nothing happens on the day. Hopefully you're starting to notice a few signs that things could be starting soon, such as backache, diarrhea and discharge, but don't worry if you're not, many labors happen spontaneously so it really could be any minute!
If you're anxious to know if you're close, you may wish to have an internal examination to check if your cervix has dilated or thinned out at all, both of which are good signs that labor is on it's way. Although medical intervention isn't necessary at this point, your Midwife may suggest a membrane sweep to encourage labor.
A membrane sweep can be carried out at your Midwife's office and involves your midwife inserting two fingers into the vagina and assessing if the cervix is open. If it is, your Midwife will slightly stretch the opening of the cervix and then feel for the amniotic sac. The sac will be gently separated from the uterus, which can help the production of hormones which cause the uterus to contract. It's thought to be about 24% effective, so there's no guarantee this process will bring on labor.
Membrane sweeps are generally very safe, although there are a few risks, mainly concerning the accuracy of the due date. If your due date has been calculated wrong and Baby isn't due just yet, it could be risky to encourage Baby to be born. Ask for information before the procedure and make sure to ask any questions so you understand fully.
If you decide you'd like to have a membrane sweep there's no special preparation you need to do, but you may wish to consider the following. Before the procedure, try and use the bathroom so your bladder is as empty as possible. This will give your Midwife much more workable space when she's trying to separate the membranes from the uterine wall.
The procedure shouldn't be painful, although it can be very uncomfortable (your Midwife's hand will be through the opening of your cervix - what do you expect?). Taking a few pregnancy-safe painkillers about an hour beforehand can help take the edge off of any associated pain.
Remember to take some maternity pads to the appointment as some women experience a little bit of bleeding afterwards. It should only be light, but bringing a pad with you can save your good panties! If the bleeding gets heavier afterwards, or doesn't stop within a few hours, give your Midwife a call to see if you need to get checked out.