You’re 41 weeks pregnant! You might not have imagined getting to this point and you were probably hoping you wouldn’t!
At 41 weeks you’ve probably discussed baby names at length and agreed on a name.
Being 41 weeks pregnant can be uncomfortable, so you’re probably looking forward to the end of pregnancy, and tired of the waiting game.
By now you should be completely ready, with everything you need for when the baby is born, and your hospital bag packed.
You might be getting sick of the constant ‘Have you had that baby?’ messages from well-meaning family and friends. Of course, you can always turn off your phone or ask your partner to field the calls.
Feeling like the ‘watched pot’ doesn’t help your own frustration and emotions while waiting for labor to start.
Hang in there and focus on meeting your baby soon.
Read on for more information about what to expect at 41 weeks.
How many months are 41 weeks pregnant?
We’re used to thinking of pregnancy is nine months long but in fact, it can be longer! If you count from the first day of your last menstrual period, with 4 weeks equalling a month, you’re now 9 completed months + 1 week pregnant. This technically means you’re into your tenth month of pregnancy – wow!
Is pregnancy at 41 weeks normal?
Yes, it’s very common for pregnant women to go beyond their due dates. In fact, only about 5% of mothers actually give birth on the exact date they’re due.
Most babies arrive between 37 weeks and 41 weeks of pregnancy, but usually within a week on either side of their expected due date.
41 weeks pregnant discharge
During pregnancy, you might have seen all kinds of different vaginal discharges. It’s tricky to know whether they are normal or not.
Discharge at 41 weeks:
- Yellow vaginal discharge. This could be a sign of an infection like bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, or yeast infection – especially if the discharge is thick, smells bad or is accompanied by itching or burning. You can read more here in Yellow Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy.
- Bloody or pink mucus-like discharge. At 41 weeks, it’s likely the cervix is changing and the mucous plug is starting to come away
- White milky-colored discharge. This is called ‘leukorrhea’, and is a normal response to your body’s shifting hormones (more estrogen) during pregnancy; it might have a mild odor.
If you experience any of the above and want further advice, see your health care provider or doctor discuss it.
Week 41 pregnant symptoms
You’re probably hoping this is the last week of pregnancy.
Here are some signs you might notice before you go into labor:
- Mucus-like, blood-streaked show
- Cramping, like period pain, in your back and pelvis
- Contractions start and could become regular
- Water might break; check the fluid is clear
- Change in bowel habits – diarrhea or constipation
- Vomiting or nausea
- ‘Nesting’ instinct.
For more information, speak to your doctor or midwife, and see Signs Of Labor – 7 Signs You Might Be In Labor.
What can my partner do to support me in labor?
Your partner, along with your other support people, can really make a huge difference in how you cope with labor.
Here are some recommendations about how your support people might help. They can:
- Give you a massage, if you want it
- Organize food for you
- Sort the kids for dinner, or babysit, if required
- Ensure the video or camera is ready to go
- Check the car seat is in the car and ready to go
- Give you lots of cuddles to release that oxytocin
- Start your aromatherapy
- Get your music ready
- Make sure the pool is ready to go
- Remind you to relax
- Tie your hair back
- Call the midwife or hospital
41 weeks pregnant – baby very active
Babies can be pretty active at 41 weeks pregnant. You might notice it more in the evening and during the night when you’re not moving around so much.
It might seem as though your baby moves more frequently or the movements are stronger. If something doesn’t feel right, seek reassurance from your practitioner.
41 weeks pregnant – symptoms not to ignore
Your baby will have a pattern of movement and this should continue throughout your pregnancy, right until your baby is born.
Be aware of outdated information about reduced baby movement, such as advice to ‘have a cold drink’ to make baby move, or that your baby ‘slows down closer to the birth’.
If you’re ever concerned your baby is not moving as usual, even at 41 weeks, contact your care provider, doctor or midwife and request a well-being check. This involves a nonstress test to ensure the baby is doing ok.
Be sure to read Do All Babies Go Quiet Before Labour? for more information.
41 weeks pregnant – how to bring on labor
It’s tempting to try to get things going when you’re 41 weeks, especially if there’s some reason why 42 weeks is the endpoint for you.
Even though the following methods to bring on labor are natural, be mindful they’re still interventions. We’ll never know whether the baby was going to arrive anyway, or whether the method has worked.
Natural methods might include:
- Gutter walking – find a curb on the roadside and step up and down, alternating left and right
- Steps up and down
- Stretch and sweep
- Evening primrose oil
- Spicy food
- Sexual intercourse
- Nipple stimulation
See more here: How To Bring On Labor Naturally – 11 Natural Methods.
Please note we’re not recommending you try all of these. Check with your doctor before doing any intervention to make sure it is safe for you and your baby at 41 weeks of pregnancy.
How to cope with prelabor at week 41
After waiting so long for your baby to arrive, it can still come as a surprise when you go into labor. Many women feel like they’re between a rock and a hard place during prelabor. The inevitable tiredness ensues (often for the partner as well).
Take comfort in knowing all these prelabour contractions are bringing your baby closer.
Here are some recommendations that might help:
- Keep well hydrated (dehydration can stall everything)
- Rest as much as you can
- Eat nourishing food
- Try a Tens machine
- Use the shower
- Apply heat packs
- Have a massage
- Use a pregnancy ball for bouncing
- Don’t time contractions at this point – they are usually irregular
- Stay at home (let your care provider know).
41 weeks pregnant – your body
Most likely, there’s nothing new going on with your body at week 41. Just more of the same: hemorrhoids, reflux, aches and pains, and heartburn.
You’re probably not gaining much weight at this point, yet you’re feeling heavier than ever.
Swimming in a warm pool can help take some of the stress off your body and ease your aches and pains.
Floating in a sensory deprivation tank (which contains around 500kgs of Epsom salts) is something you could try; it could help you relax and soothe your tired muscles.
Massage therapy can also relieve aches and keep you in alignment.
It’s always a good idea to check with your healthcare professional or doctor before you start any new therapy, just to ensure it’s safe for you.
41 weeks pregnant – can’t sleep
It’s not uncommon for women who are full term to have trouble sleeping. This is usually because it’s uncomfortable to lie down.
You’re also likely to need more frequent trips to the bathroom at night as your baby is squishing your bladder. Add to that the pressure on your hips and joints – not easily relieved by shifting positions.
Another common reason for third trimester insomnia is pre-birth anxiety.
It’s normal to think about giving birth, worry about coping and ask all the possible ‘what ifs’ – especially for first time mamas. But it’s not great if all this interferes with your ability to sleep.
Talk out your fears and concerns with someone you trust to be positive and supportive.
Try writing down your thoughts, or do some mindfulness exercises, to help release the anxiety.
41 weeks pregnant – no contractions
Just because you’re a week past your due date doesn’t mean labor should’ve started by now. Remember, only 5% of babies arrive on their due date, and half of all babies arrive past their due date.
You are certainly not outside the norm because you’re still pregnant – neither are you ‘overdue’.
Your estimated due date could be out if you weren’t sure of your ovulation date, or if your cycle isn’t the average 28 days.
It’s really hard to think about relaxing, but it’s best to avoid getting stressed out.
Stress hormones don’t help labor along; in fact, they usually stall it.
You might not be aware of the amazing way your body is already preparing for birth.
Those Braxton Hicks tightenings are helping your uterus to prepare for labor. Your cervix is softening and thinning, which you might not feel.
And if you’ve noticed an increase in vaginal mucus, that’s a sign things are definitely heading in the right direction.
Should I get induced at 41 weeks or wait?
If you’re really feeling the pressure from the hospital, ask for some time to make a decision.
Deciding under pressure can result in decisions you didn’t really want. You can be vulnerable at this time, so allow yourself to be supported.
There are many reasons to induce but they should be medical based decisions. If all is well with you and your baby, you have the right to make an informed choice to wait.
Be sure to read 40 Reasons To Give Your Baby 40+ Weeks Of Pregnancy for more information.
How long do they wait to induce labor after the due date?
It’s not uncommon for women to be induced if they reach 41 weeks of pregnancy with no signs of labor.
Inducing labor has its own set of risks for an otherwise healthy baby and mother.
By now, your doctor or midwife might have ordered a biophysical profile. This is a series of tests that are optional, but they can assess how well your baby is doing in the womb.
The biophysical profile is simple and involves an ultrasound to check baby’s measurements, breathing movements and level of amniotic fluid.
If there are no concerns about your baby’s health, you may opt to decline these tests.
However, they can be useful if you wish to push back a scheduled induction.
It’s usual to request monitoring, every other day until you reach 42 weeks.
41 weeks pregnant – induction
If you feel it’s time, or if your doctor or midwife genuinely feels your baby is at risk, one of the options is the induction of labor.
You can request labor induction or c-section, as you are now what’s termed as post dates. However, this decision isn’t to be taken lightly and needs careful consideration.
Make the decision based on the best information available to you at the time. You might feel you are over being pregnant, but is this decision right for you or your baby?
Induction is done in a number of ways, including:
- Foley catheter
- Prostin gels
- Membrane sweep
- Artificially breaking your water
- IV infusion of oxytocin.
For more information, read Why All Inductions Are Not The Same – 5 Induction Methods, which discusses these induction methods in more detail.
All of these methods require your baby to be monitored continuously, according to hospital policy, and can lead to other interventions
When we start one intervention, another is often required, as we have altered the natural rhythm of labor. This is called the cascade of interventions and often leads to a c-section.
Discuss the risks versus benefits for you and your baby when considering induction of labor.
What does a baby look like at 41 weeks?
Your baby is likely to be losing the remainder of the lanugo and vernix from his skin this week.
This mixes with the amniotic fluid your baby swallows and turns into meconium, which is the build-up of waste in his bowels.
In the first few days after birth, your baby will pass this meconium, which is thick, sticky, and black-green in color. Make sure you have plenty of wipes handy!
41 weeks pregnant – baby weight
By now, your baby’s weight is likely to be between 3 and 4 kilograms (6.6-8.8 pounds), and he is anywhere from 47-53 cm (18-20 inches) in length.
He continues to gain weight and his lungs continue to develop.