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40 Weeks Pregnant With No Signs of Labor
After 39 or 40 weeks, it’s sometimes best to deliver sooner rather than later. Studies have shown that newborn admissions to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) increase slightly when a pregnancy lasts 40 to 42 weeks. And stillbirth, though rare, becomes a concern.
At 40 weeks, the risk of stillbirth is approximately 2 to 3 per 1,000 babies; at 42 weeks, it’s 4 to 7 per 1,000. If labor hasn’t started spontaneously, you’ll probably be induced at 41 weeks—at the latest. “If your cervix has started to dilate, odds are in your favor for a successful induction,” Dr. Warshak says. Translation: You probably won’t end up having a Cesarean section.
Whether or not you’ll be induced depends on your own health, the status of your cervix, and the baby’s well-being as determined by a non-invasive procedure called fetal non-stress testing. The conditions inside your uterus past the due date may also stress the baby during labor and vaginal delivery. As a result, Dr. Warshak says, “Even if your cervix is at 8 centimeters and labor is progressing, we’ll do a C-section if the overdue baby is not tolerating labor well.”
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The midwife philosophy
Midwives tend to wait a little longer for induction than OB-GYNs do. “In our practice, we wait until 42 weeks to go into labor naturally,” says Joanne Hasman, C.N.M., a certified nurse-midwife at Special Beginnings Birth and Women’s Center in Arnold, Maryland. “If they don’t by then, we schedule an induction at our hospital. We also try natural methods, including acupuncture, reflexology, or reiki.”
At 40 to 41 weeks, if your cervix is dilated at least 2 centimeters, the midwives in Hasman’s practice perform what’s called a “cervical sweep,” using a finger to separate the cervix from the amniotic sac. This can sometimes kick-start labor. “If the person is really ready [to go into labor], I’ll see her back here in 24 to 36 hours,” Hasman says.
The C-section question
An ongoing concern has been whether induction, as opposed to what’s known as expectant management (waiting for labor to start spontaneously while monitoring the parent and baby’s well-being), might lead to a higher risk for emergency Cesarean section, and studies have been conflicting.
However, a comprehensive 2018 study funded by the National Institutes of Health actually found that inducing labor at week 39 is not connected with higher C-section rates compared with waiting for labor to begin spontaneously. In fact, researchers found that the rates of surgical intervention were lower in the group that was induced by a rate of 18.6% compared with 22.2% for the expectant management group.
Key Takeaways at 40 Weeks Pregnant
- You made it to the finish line! But that doesn’t mean baby is going to take the hint. Lots of littles stick around for a few days—or even a week or so—beyond their due date. Hey, it’s comfy and cozy in that uterus of yours. (Also, remember that calculating due dates is not an exact science—so your projected timeline might be off.)
- The pelvic pressure is real. Baby is probably very low and engaged preparing for delivery. You may find yourself waddling. You might also experience some shooting pains in your crotch region as nerves get compressed.
- Average baby weight at 40 weeks is about 7.6 pounds—give or take. Of course, there’s a hearty range, so don’t be surprised if you wind up with a petite bundle or a future linebacker.
- Once you go past your due date, you might be scheduled for a biophysical profile. This is an ultrasound and nonstress test to make sure baby is doing well and you have sufficient amniotic fluid levels.
Week 40 of pregnancy can be mentally rough, since you’ll be constantly wondering when baby will decide to make their entrance and question every twinge you have. If you notice a decrease in the way baby moves, call your healthcare provider immediately. Try not to stress, and rest assured that baby will arrive when they’re ready—and your body will give you the right signals that it’s time.
40 weeks pregnant no signs of labor
40 Weeks Pregnant, No Sign of Labor: Is It Normal?
Yes, it is. The vast majority of babies arrive between 37 and 41 weeks of pregnancy. Usually, they come within a week of their due date. Twins and triplets, however, tend to arrive before the 37th week.
The due date is no more than an estimation of the day on which you will give birth. It is calculated as exactly 40 weeks from the first day of when your last period started. After your dating scan, it’s possible that your midwife will update your due date, as your scan will give the professional a more precise idea of how far along you are.
40 Weeks Pregnant No Sign of Labor: Should I Worry?
During the first week after your due date has passed, neither you nor your baby are at a higher risk of complications as long as you both have been doing well. Even into the 2nd week past your due date there is not much of an increase in risk. There are, however, some risks that increase marginally. Babies who are significantly overdue face the following risks:
- An infection developing inside the womb
- The placenta ceasing to be able to properly do its job
- Unexpected problems during labor
An overdue pregnancy is not usually associated with many risks for a pregnant woman; however, childbirth tends to be more difficult for bigger infants.
Almost all babies are born within 3 or 4 weeks of their due dates. Babies who are not born by this point are at risk of being dead upon birth (stillborn). Nevertheless, babies are very rarely born that late, as labor is typically induced no more than two weeks after the due date. Labor may be induced using hormones or other artificial methods.
40 Weeks Pregnant No Sign of Labor: What Can I Do?
- Relax. Try to avoid being alone. Spend lots of time with your family and friends. Start a DIY project or rent a few movies you’ve always wanted to see. Your task is to keep yourself from worrying too much!
- Rest. Get as much sleep as you can. Once your new baby comes, you’re in for some serious sleep deprivation.
- Shop. Now is the best time to go shopping for meals to stock up your freezer. Once your baby is born, you’ll be grateful that you have a bunch of food at your house. It is also a good time to go out for last-minute treats along with your partner. Spending time with your partner won’t be easy once your baby comes!
- Meditate. Sit in an open, quiet area and try to meditate. Meditation will help you and your baby relax. Fresh air can also be magically energizing. It can help you have positive thoughts and calm your mind.
If you’re eager to see your new addition, consider trying some of these labor starters:
- Stair climbing. There’s no need to exhaust yourself (after all, you’ll be in labor soon), but climbing stairs may help you induce labor, as taking big steps and lifting your legs high puts pressure on your cervix.
- Acupressure. Acupressure is a technique that’s similar to acupuncture, except that it uses fingers (not needles) on your pressure points. Try placing pressure on the roof of your mouth or the webbings of your fingers between your thumb and pointer finger, and about four finger-lengths above your ankles.
- Nipple stimulation. Stimulating your nipples releases oxytocin, this can cause your body to start having contractions. Try gently rubbing or rolling your nipples. If it’s not too painful, you can also use a breast pump—just keep stimulating until you start experiencing contractions. If your contractions start coming close together, feel free to stop and let nature take over.
- Sex. You may not be up for sex right now, but if you happen to be in the mood (many women still are), having an orgasm can trigger contractions. Semen also contains prostaglandins, which help to prepare your body for labor.