Week 42 of Pregnancy: All You Need to Know

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Update Date 11/05/2020 . 4 mins read
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Baby Development

It has been a long journey, but the long wait is over! Your baby is coming out soon.

A typical pregnancy lasts around 40 weeks, but some babies can be delivered at around week 38. For those that have endured until week 42 of pregnancy, be relieved as most doctors will help induce labor and assist you in your delivery. 

Here is what you need to know about pregnancy week 42.

Week 42 of Pregnancy: How is my baby growing?

The baby is fully developed by now with a complete set of cute fingers and toes, mouth, eyes, ears and hands! Your belly may feel incredibly heavy, and it should be as your baby is around the size of a big jackfruit or watermelon. Despite your baby’s size, you can still try for a natural delivery. 

While cozy inside your womb and fully developed, your baby will continue to grow. By pregnancy week 42, your baby may now have slightly longer hair and nails, and wrinkly skin. Your baby’s skin may also be starting to crack and peel because he is shedding his protective vernix. This is perfectly normal and expected. 

Body & Life Changes

How is my body changing?

By pregnancy week 42, you are most likely thinking of how much more you can endure – the leg cramps, the sleepless nights, backaches, hemorrhoids, the frequent trips to the bathroom, the uncomfortable kicking of your baby, and the other concerning contractions. But you are so near the finish line! Your baby is coming sooner than you think, and will most probably arrive by the end of this week.

As you prepare for labor and delivery, it is important to watch out for these signs: 

  • Vaginal discharge, which sometimes has blood
  • Water breaking
  • Constant, intensive contractions that occur in short intervals

What should I be concerned about?

While typically not something to cause alarm, overdue pregnancies can be worrisome for some mothers. But as long as you are in constant contact with your doctor and are ready to head out to the hospital as soon as your water breaks, you will be okay. 

According to a report, 76% of women who are over 41 weeks pregnant are able to deliver a child via normal vaginal birth, while 14% opt for assisted vaginal birth (which used forceps or ventouse). Only 1 out of 10 choose cesarean birth.

At pregnancy week 42, it is important to be attuned to your body and your baby. Pregnancies that go beyond the 42 weeks may come with certain complications such as:

  • Pinched umbilical cord
  • Placental problems
  • Low amniotic fluid
  • Higher risk of stillbirth
  • Meconium aspiration

Meconium aspiration is when the baby ingests a mixture of meconium (the baby’s first stool) and amniotic fluid. This may cause difficulty in breathing in the baby and may lead to infection of the lungs. Your baby may be placed in the neonatal intensive care unit after birth. 

At pregnancy week 42, you should also be wary of any of the following symptoms. Immediately contact your healthcare provider if you experience these:

  • Abnormal discharge
  • Bleeding
  • Abdominal pain

Your Doctor Visits

What should I tell my doctor?

Consult your doctor about any complications that you should expect on pregnancy week 42, and whether medical intervention is needed to induce labor. Due to your baby being overdue, your doctor may also discuss with you the option of cesarean delivery.

By pregnancy week 42, you will be going into labor soon enough, so monitor your baby and your body very closely. Take note of your baby’s activity in the womb. If there are changes in your baby’s movement, notify your doctor immediately.

What tests should I know about?

By pregnancy week 42, it is very important that you and your doctor are in constant contact. Overdue pregnancies must be monitored closely as risks tend to go higher with every day and week that pregnancy is prolonged. 

To check on your baby’s condition, your doctor may require more tests such as:

  • Ultrasound scan
  • Non-stress test
  • Contraction stress test 

These will help ensure that your baby is healthy, active, and has sufficient amniotic fluid. 

For your health and safety, as well as the baby’s, your doctor may recommend inducing labor. What happens when your labor is induced? If the cervix is closed, a type of drug called prostaglandins is used to soften and gently open it. Your doctor or nurse will then assist in breaking the bag surrounding the baby. To help with your contractions, another drug called syntocinon will be given intravenously. This induction method usually takes 1-2 days for you to deliver your baby.  

If this still does not work, your doctor will assess your condition and the baby’s health and may recommend another round of drugs to induce labor or recommend a cesarean delivery.

Inducing labor on pregnancy week 42 poses certain risks as well: 

  • Due to failed induction, one in every four mothers may need to undergo a C-section to deliver their child. 
  • Medication used to induce labor may trigger contractions that affect a baby’s oxygen supply and heart rate. 
  • Induction methods like a membrane sweep entail rupturing membranes, which increase the risk of infection. 
  • Induction may cause serious bleeding after delivery due to uterine muscles not functioning properly in some cases. 
  • In rare cases, if a mother has had a C-section, induction may cause the uterus to tear open along the scar line and require removing the uterus. 

Health & Safety

What should I know about being healthy and safe while pregnant?

Should you want to wait it out a little longer, past your 42-week mark, consult your doctor regarding the risks and complications, and contingency plans about your delivery. 

By pregnancy week 42, your baby is considered long overdue. Babies typically come out around week 38, but if you are still carrying your child up to week 42, there is nothing you should be too concerned about, especially if you are being closely monitored by your doctor and the medical team. Just a few more days – or even hours – until you meet your little one!

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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