You’re 42 weeks pregnant!
At week 42 of pregnancy and beyond, you’re considered to be post dates or post term. For each woman who reaches this milestone this can feel quite different.
It’s quite normal to feel the anticipation and some anxiety right now.
You’re probably more than ready, but the baby is still not here. You might be thinking, ‘How will I cope and enjoy the rest of my pregnancy?’ You might be under pressure to go into labor and sick of the constant queries from family and friends.
Read on to find out what to expect.
How many months are you at 42 weeks pregnant?
Because we count by weeks from the first day of the last menstrual period, week 42 means you’ve completed 9 months and are starting the tenth month of pregnancy.
However, only a few women are still pregnant at 42 weeks. You’re considered ‘post dates’ once you are past 42 weeks in pregnancy. Some women gestate for longer and this is normal for them.
42 weeks pregnant risks
When you get to 42 weeks pregnant, you could be happy to wait for the baby to arrive or you might feel as though you’re done!
It’s likely your doctor or midwife has discussed your options once you’ve reached 42 weeks.
This is considered a post dates, prolonged, or post term pregnancy.
The most important questions for mothers are: ‘Is it safe to get to 42 weeks?’ and ‘Is it safe to continue with my pregnancy without intervention?’
These are very personal issues and depend on your philosophy of birth, and any complexities associated with your pregnancy.
If you’ve had an uneventful pregnancy with no complications, all the evidence points to it being safe to continue without intervention.
If you have pregnancy complications, it might be better, for you or your baby, if your baby is safely born now.
Are 42 weeks of pregnancy normal?
Actually, very few women get to 42 weeks pregnant. But it’s within the range of normal if a pregnancy lasts 42 weeks.
In some cases, mothers have simply ovulated later and dating scans haven’t been accurate. This means they aren’t as far along in pregnancy as they thought.
In any case, some mothers gestate longer than others. This is more common if they have female relatives who also gave birth closer to 42 weeks.
It’s very common for pregnant women to go beyond their due date. In fact, only about 5% of mothers give birth on the exact date they are due.
Most babies arrive between 37 weeks and 41 weeks of pregnancy – usually within a week on either side of their expected due date.
How many weeks overdue is safe?
How overdue you can go and how safe it is, depend greatly on your individual situation. If either you or your baby could be at risk, then labor induction might be the safest option.
This is done a number of ways, as discussed in Why All Inductions Are Not The Same – 5 Induction Methods.
Labor induction requires your baby to be continuously monitored, according to hospital policy. This increases the risk of birth complications.
After one intervention, another is often required, because the natural rhythm of labor has been altered. 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 whether or not to induce labor.
42 weeks pregnant symptoms
It’s unlikely you’ve noticed many physical changes in the last few weeks. If anything you’re just well and truly over being pregnant at week 42.
You’ll probably have more swelling, especially in your feet and ankles. Keep resting as much as possible; this takes the pressure off your back and uterus.
After all, there are about 4kg (8.8 pounds) or more of baby, placenta and amniotic fluid slowing you down. Sitting with your feet up might feel like your only option.
42 weeks pregnant belly
At this point, your belly is probably feeling very stretched and heavy. Just moving about can feel like hard work, so build plenty of rest into your day.
Try not to lean back when you sit, as this can encourage baby to move out of the optimal position for birth.
42 weeks pregnant and no signs of labor
If you’ve reached 42 weeks of pregnancy with no signs of labor, it’s pretty common for your doctor or midwife to want to check how your baby is going.
You can ask to have monitoring, to check all is well with you and baby. This is called a nonstress test and it records contractions and baby’s heart rate and movement.
A nonstress test involves an electronic fetal monitor being attached to your belly.
You can also agree to a scan, to check the placenta is still functioning well.
Your amniotic fluid levels will also be checked.
Ask your partner or a trusted friend who is on your team, supporting your choices, to come with you to appointments. This can be a huge help.
Natural ways to get labor started
If you’re feeling pressure to have the baby sooner rather than later, there are some natural methods for getting labor going.
Although they might be natural, keep in mind they’re still interventions.
There’s no way to know whether the baby was going to arrive anyway, or whether the method has worked.
Natural methods 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
- Chiropractic or massage
- Sexual intercourse
- Nipple stimulation
See more here in How To Bring On Labour Naturally – 11 Natural Methods | BellyBelly.
Please note: we aren’t recommending you try all of these.
Check with your doctor or midwife before doing any intervention to ensure it’s safe for you and your baby at 42 weeks pregnant.
Birth location at week 42
At 42 weeks, your decision about where to have your baby might be affected, depending on what country you live in.
In Australia, it isn’t recommended to have a home birth post-term. However, this also depends on your health care providers, as they might feel comfortable supporting you past 42 weeks. The time frame in the US is usually 43 weeks.
If you’ve chosen to have your baby at a birth center, it’s unlikely you’ll be eligible to birth there after 42 weeks. This is mainly because birth centers are not equipped to cope with complications should they arise during labor.
If you’re planning to give birth in a mainstream hospital your location won’t have to change.
Will doctors let you go past 42 weeks?
Your doctor might tell you post-term pregnancy is high risk. There’s a very small increase of stillbirth for some women whose pregnancy lasts 42 weeks with no signs of labor.
Ask your doctor or midwife questions, to help you make an informed decision about your care.
If you don’t know what to ask, you can use BRAIN’D to get the information you need:
B – What are the benefits?
R – What are the risks?
A – What are the alternatives?
I – What do I want to do?
N – What happens if I do nothing?
D – We’d like some privacy to make a decision
42 weeks pregnant and don’t want to be induced
If you’re really feeling the pressure from your doctor, ask for some privacy to make a decision.
Ask the doctor to step out of the room, or go for a walk with your support people to discuss it. And take your time.
Making decisions under pressure can result in decisions you didn’t really want. If it’s too much for you, let your partner or support person know what your preference for care is, and let them be your advocate.
This is a time when you can feel vulnerable, so allow yourself to be supported. It’s important you know your rights, wherever you live, and make the decision for you and your baby based on the best available evidence.
Should I have an ultrasound scan at 42 weeks?
There is no evidence the placenta starts to deteriorate at a set point in a pregnancy. If the placenta does stop working, it can happen at any time.
If you’re concerned about reduced movements for your baby, or if you have a history of stillbirth, it’s recommended you have an ultrasound scan to check everything is ok.
This might reassure you and your doctor or midwife that all is well and you can continue to wait for your newborn. Alternatively, if there is a concern you might meet your baby sooner, by other means.
Should I have monitoring of my baby at 42 weeks?
If you decide to have monitoring, you’ll need to go into the hospital and be put on a CTG monitor (cardiotocograph).
This involves strapping two monitors to your belly – one to measure the baby’s heartbeat and another to measure contractions. You’ll also be given a button to push every time the fetus moves.
This can be reassuring if everything is okay. CTG results are open to interpretation, depending on who is reading the printout, so it could mean you’re put under pressure to have interventions.
Can I request an induction or c-section if I want?
A post-term pregnancy means you can request an induction or elective c-section if you want your baby to be born. However, this needs careful consideration, and you shouldn’t take the decision lightly.
Make your decision based on the best information available to you. Talk to your doctor about all your options.
You are probably completely over-pregnancy by now, but is this right for you and your baby?
42 weeks pregnant – your baby
At 42 weeks your baby is post-term. Even though your baby is still in the uterus, it’s possible she has passed her first bowel movement.
This is meconium and it usually causes no problems, unless your baby inhales it into her lungs.
Meconium aspiration is very rare and most likely happens when your baby is distressed.
If the sac ruptures and the amniotic fluid is a greenish or yellowish color, this indicates your baby has passed meconium already.
It doesn’t necessarily mean your baby is in danger, but be sure to let your health care provider know, as they will want to check for fetal distress.
42 weeks pregnant baby weight in kg
At 42 weeks pregnant, your baby’s weight is likely to be about 3–4 kilograms (6-8 pounds), and she might measure from 47-53 cm (18 – 20 inches) in length.
Well, that’s it, mama.
Now you’re 42 weeks pregnant, you’ve come to the end of our pregnancy week by week feature.
BellyBelly wishes you an amazing, gentle, and empowering experience that you’ll cherish forever.
We hope our resources have helped you to feel prepared and more confident about birth and about your options.