Mama, you’re so nearly there. What an awesome job you’re doing! At 41 weeks pregnant, we know you’re really impatient to meet your new baby and enjoy those first cuddles. And we feel your pain: getting up to pee every 5 minutes isn’t our idea of fun either.
Don’t worry though – your baby is getting ready to make an appearance! They might be comfy in your belly, but soon they’ll want to greet the big, wide world.
You might also be wondering: Is pregnancy at 41 weeks normal? My due date feels like a distant memory now…
Well, as we’ll explain, you’re certainly in good company at 41 weeks pregnant. Take a minute to put your feet up, grab a hot drink, and let’s talk about what’s going on during this stage of your pregnancy journey.
How accurate are due dates anyway?
Did you know that if you’re in 41 weeks 0 days to 41 weeks 6 days of your pregnancy, you’re officially classed as “late-term”? You’re not technically “overdue” until 42 weeks. So take a breath and relax: you’re doing great.
Even though you’ve passed your due date, there’s a great chance that things are still progressing normally with your pregnancy. That’s because due dates are notoriously inaccurate! Fewer than 5% of babies are actually born on the day they were scheduled to arrive.
The traditional way of calculating a due date is to count 40 weeks from your last menstrual period, but that doesn’t take into account that fact that women have cycles of varying lengths. Much more accurate is to calculate from the ovulation date (if known) or make a judgment from an early ultrasound scan at 11–14 weeks.
Research has found that counting 40 weeks 5 days from your last period gives a more accurate due date for first-time mamas (or 40 weeks 3 days for you veterans out there). About half of all pregnant women will go into labor spontaneously by this point.
So if you’re sitting at 41 weeks pregnant right now, not too many fewer than half the other mamas out there are keeping you company.
Your baby at 41 weeks pregnant
Right now your baby is a similar size and weight to 40 weeks – maybe just a little bigger. So that might be about 6 to 9 pounds (around the size of a small pumpkin or watermelon) and 19 to 22 inches from the top of their head to their heel.
Because your baby is approximately full-size for pregnancy now, you may feel a bit less movement from them. It’s getting quite cramped in there! But you may still feel at least a few jiggles and kicks each day. Let your healthcare provider know if you have any questions.
Once you’re more than a week past your due date, your HP might do some extra tests, just to check that baby is still happy where they are. This could include a “nonstress test” to monitor your baby’s heart rate and an assessment of your amniotic fluid levels.
Your HP will also be keeping an eye out for signs that labor is on its way – and that your little one is finally going to make an appearance!
Your body at 41 weeks pregnant
We know that a 41 weeks pregnant belly is no picnic to carry around with you. With that precious burden to bear, and other common side effects of a late-stage pregnancy, your body certainly doesn’t give you much chance to forget the important job you’re doing right now.
When you’re 41 weeks pregnant, the symptoms might be very similar to those you’ll have been experiencing in week 40 of your pregnancy: back and pelvic pain, needing to pee frequently, loose bowels, and possibly hemorrhoids (ouch).
Your nesting instinct may be going into overdrive too, as you get the urge to clean and tidy in preparation for baby’s arrival. But you might find that these bursts of energy are followed by the desire to simply flop on the couch – and that’s totally fine!
To induce or not to induce?
At 41 weeks pregnant with no signs of labor, it’s likely that your HP will discuss the possibility of inducing labor if baby doesn’t arrive soon. This means you would have a medical intervention to get your contractions going and your cervix wide enough to allow you to deliver your little one.
There are pros and cons to inducing labor vs. waiting for it to start naturally, and your own hopes and plans for the kind of birth you want to have are very important here. So let’s take a look at what’s involved in both cases.
It’s useful to note that different countries have different practices around inducing labor. For example, in the US, it’s quite common to induce before 42 weeks, whereas in the Netherlands and Sweden it’s unusual to induce this early for an uncomplicated pregnancy.
There is some evidence to suggest that “elective induction” (that’s when there’s no particular medical reason to induce) at 41 weeks can lead to a safer labor for mother and baby. It may also lower the risk of a C-section being needed.
If you and your HP do decide that induction is the way to go, you will be given medication to help start your contractions. Your HP may also insert a balloon-like device into your cervix, which inflates to help the cervix dilate (widen), and they may help your waters to break, too.
Waiting it out
Waiting for labor to begin on its own has a different set of possible benefits. When your hormones (chemical messengers that help so many different processes in your body) bring about birth spontaneously, some people think this can have other advantages.
These are thought to include a more relaxed experience of birth and potentially easier breastfeeding, but of course this doesn’t mean that having an induction will get in the way of any of this!
If you were planning an unmedicated birth, waiting a little longer for labor to begin might just help you. But if you were already counting on an epidural (or other painkillers) to get you through, getting an induction might not be such a drastic change.
Ultimately, whether you decide to go for induction at 41 weeks or to hang on for a few more days, it’s vital to get all the facts from your HP so you can make an informed decision. You’ve got this, mama. Choose the direction that works best for you.
Should you try to bring on labor?
We all know the old wives’ tales about ways to bring on labor “naturally” – from sex to spicy food to castor oil. But should you try any of these tricks to kick-start the birth process?
Unfortunately, there’s little evidence that any of these methods work. But, more importantly, it’s not a great idea to try any of them without checking with your HP first.
It’s frustrating that baby isn’t here yet, but your body may just need a few more days to get ready.
Looking after you at 41 weeks
So, whether you’ve got a date for your induction or you’re letting nature take its course, why not use these last few days of pregnancy to rest up and treat yourself?
Binge on a box set, go for a relaxing walk (possibly with a bathroom nearby!), or get a massage from your partner. Enjoy your freedom, mama, because baby will be joining you soon!