At 41 weeks pregnant, you’re quite far into your pregnancy and your baby is basically already fully grown, with just a few more changes to make. Unfortunately, you’re still going to have to put up with a lot of side effects and changes to your own body, at least until it’s time for the actual birth. Just hang in there – there isn’t much longer left to wait, and you can relax as much as you need to once the whole ordeal is over.
How Big is the Baby?
At this point, your baby isn’t just a tiny little thing anymore – it’s over 20 inches long and weight almost eight pounds, meaning that it’s roughly the size of a small microwave or countertop oven. That’s a lot of extra weight, so you’ll have to adapt to carry it properly if you haven’t already. Even if you weren’t the slimmest person beforehand, you probably have quite a noticeable baby bump, so it’s not that easy to hide anymore!
How Has The Baby Developed?
Your baby doesn’t really need to grow that much bigger, so its development is more about its finishing touches than anything else. To start, you’ll notice that its hair and nails are growing properly now, although they won’t cause any damage to your body and are still relatively short. In some cases, the hair might even grow very slowly, or start appearing at a later stage of the pregnancy instead.
On top of that, your baby is likely to have slightly drier skin from this point forward, although you won’t really be able to tell even with an ultrasound scan. This is because the vernix coating finally vanishes, leaving its skin bare inside your body: there’s nothing to really keep them hydrated anymore, but this won’t harm it as long as you’re keeping yourself properly hydrated instead.
Even though your baby isn’t growing in the usual sense, it’ll start putting on some fat instead. This isn’t dangerous as long as you’re being sensible with the nutrients you’re giving it – in fact, the fat is often a good thing for its long-term health once it’s actually born. Just remember that a fatter baby is a bigger baby, so overeating on unhealthy treats can bulk it up to a size that’s much more uncomfortable during the birth itself.
How Will My Body Change?
Like every pregnancy stage, you’ll have to deal with some changes to your body that you can’t necessarily fix by yourself. Some of these are fairly minor, but others can end up being painful if you’re not careful.
- First of all, watch out for more blood coming from your cervix as it dilates. This is an issue that can occur at any stage of pregnancy, since the dilation begins very early on and doesn’t finish until just before birth. It won’t be very much blood, and you might never even notice it at all, but it happens to most women. It’s nothing to do to a doctor about unless it seems to be actual bleeding, though.
- Diarrhea and urination are quite common at this stage, with the former being more likely as you get closer to proper labor nearer the birth. Your bladder can get squished by the larger, heavier baby in your body, so you’ll not be able to hold as much liquid either. Try to have a bathroom close by as often as possible, just in case: nobody wants to deal with that embarrassment while pregnant.
- Nesting is an unusual urge that many women get, which mostly involves you “preparing the nest” by wanting to organize almost everything in your home. You’ll have an urge to clean nearly everything and won’t be easily satisfied with basic changes to your home. Thankfully, it’s nothing to worry about, as long as you don’t try to move anything dangerous or put yourself at risk.
- Braxton Hicks contractions will also start turning up, allowing your body to prepare for labor closer to the full birth. This particular type is quite sporadic and more of an annoyance than anything else, but they’ll eventually develop into full contractions – when this happens, it’s time to start taking things seriously.
41 weeks is more than enough time to begin labor, so it’s important to be ready to identify it if you feel anything strange. It’s sometimes even a good idea to get paranoid about it – you never know when a sudden bump or twitch can be the start of your labor, and you don’t want to brush it off if you’re not sure.
Contractions are one of the easiest ways to tell if labor is on the way – the stronger and more consistent they get, the more likely you are to be nearing the birth. There are various apps and tools for timing them, but you’ll often be able to tell on your own, too. After a certain point, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll need to get ready to rush to the hospital at a moment’s notice.
There’s also the fact that your water might break. If you notice water trickling down your leg, your body is likely to be preparing for labor. In addition, you’ll want to try and keep track of any major issues you run into, like sudden bleeding, a lack of baby movements or random intense pains, since these aren’t normal and should be run by your doctor.
What Will Life Be Like?
At this point, anything goes. 41 weeks is “late-term”, which means that the birth can be due at any minute. Many women have their babies before this milestone, but not all. You’ll be feeling the full effects of pregnancy, and it’s different for every person.
Unlike earlier stages of pregnancy, you’ll need to focus on the baby more than yourself now. It’s so close to the standard birth time that a delay can signify serious problems, and you might even need to arrange for induced labor to get the baby out properly. Of course, the expected birth date could have just been calculated badly, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you end up giving birth during this week, there’s really no way to explain how it’ll feel, since every person can have a different experience. Just try your best and get your doctor to help if you notice anything wrong, even if it’s only minor.
What Happens After The Birth?
Your body is going to need to relax, and you’ll probably just want to sleep for a while. You’ll probably be in some pain regardless of which kind of birth (vaginal or cesarean) and labor (natural or induced) you had, so just try to take things slowly and let yourself heal. Now that you’re not carrying a baby, pain relief medication and other treatments are freely available to you.
Post-natal depression and anxiety might happen, as well as mood swings, so avoid any unnecessary stress if possible. Your body might not look great thanks to the stress of pregnancy, but it’ll heal and repair itself – just be prepared to look a little different for a while, especially if you’ve had twins.
The best way to return to normal is to focus on you and your baby. Don’t put yourself in difficult situations or force yourself back into a pre-pregnancy routine. Just relax, enjoy time with your baby and let yourself recover naturally. You’ve been through nine months of intense changes, so you deserve some time to enjoy yourself and see your new baby now that it’s not hiding inside your body.