If you are 42 weeks pregnant and there is no delivery, we are talking about a lingering term.
Such cases are quite rare - only one in ten.
There are two variants of such a long gestation period:
- Prolonged pregnancy (associated with a hereditary factor, features of the endocrine system);
- Carried pregnancy (associated with diseases that affect the woman).
Let’s list the main causes of prolonged pregnancy:
- A woman has a non-standard length of menstrual cycle – 30 days or more;
- There were similar cases in the family, i.e. a hereditary factor;
- First-born women;
- Mothers who are terrified of the thought of giving birth during their pregnancy;
- Incorrect calculation of obstetric term (most often seen in women with irregular menstruation).
Premature pregnancy can be caused by factors such as:
- Improper metabolism and acute vitamin deficiencies;
- Late puberty;
- Endocrine disorders;
- Late toxicosis (gestosis);
- Incomplete puberty;
- Cases of miscarriages and abortions;
- Mental trauma.
According to statistics, most children born as a result of prolonged or rescheduled pregnancy are in good health and do not lag behind their peers in development.
Fetus at 42 weeks gestation
Exactly 40 weeks ago, conception occurred – fertilization of the female germ cell by a sperm cell after ovulation and fixation of the embryo (blastocyst) in the uterus of the future mother. This is when the development of the embryo began. Now it is the 42nd week of pregnancy and the fetus continues its growth.
Your baby's size
- 53-57 cm (1'74-1'87 ft.)
- 3500-4000 g (7.72-8.82 lbs)
Based on these sizes, doctors insist that the pregnancy should end. Otherwise, both mother and child may suffer during childbirth.
Often doctors go for artificial stimulation.
- The head of the fetus is already firmly established in the area through which it will be born into the world – it is pressed against the pelvic bones of the mother. His body begins to work hard adrenal glands, producing stress hormones that will help him to overcome all difficulties.
- An alarming sign of this term is the beginning of the hardening of the bones of the skull. As we remember, they are supposed to remain soft and flexible until birth. During birth, the flexibility of the bones allows the baby to pass painlessly through the birth canal.
- If an ultrasound scan is done at this term, in some cases the doctor may see signs that the fetus is uncomfortable in the uterus. This is dry and wrinkled skin, which is no longer protected by the original lubricant, as well as overgrown nails on the hands and feet, and excessive activity due to lack of oxygen.
In most cases, babies born at this term are healthy.
However, if the baby has not received oxygen and nutrition through the overripe placenta for a long time, there may be some abnormalities in development.
Feelings and changes in 42 weeks of pregnancy
At this time, the mother’s body continues to prepare for childbirth. The pelvic bones are being pushed apart little by little every day to allow the baby to leave the uterus. Because of this, the woman increasingly suffers from aching pain in the perineum. The belly, which has reached its maximum size, presses heavily on the lower torso. The lower back and legs are also affected and becomes very swollen.
The harbingers of imminent labor become stronger every day: the contractions become more intense, the abdomen becomes stony more often, which means that the uterus is almost ready to expel the fetus. Colostrum, the nutrient that will be needed to nurse the baby in the first days of life, is secreted from your breasts. It becomes increasingly difficult to move around, the pregnant woman feels very tired, weak and drowsy. In the last days, the baby in the uterus puts so much pressure on the bladder that the woman is relentlessly running to the bathroom.
It should be noted that the expectant mother should monitor fetal movements. At 42 weeks of pregnancy, its motor activity is reduced compared to earlier periods, and its actions are not as sharp.
However, it is necessary for a woman to feel at least 10 movements in 12 hours.
As you know, a late term woman must see her gynecologist once a week at an antenatal clinic. When 42 weeks of pregnancy are on the calendar, and the doctor realizes that the term continues to drag on, they prescribe a number of tests that should reveal the cause of overdue pregnancy. To understand whether it is a prolonged pregnancy or a carryover pregnancy, the doctor analyzes and compares the following data:
- The amount and quality of amniotic fluid;
- The thinning of the placenta and its deformation;
- The presence of first born feces in the amniotic fluid;
- Fetal heartbeat;
- Degree of shortening and opening of the cervix;
- Analysis of the pregnant woman’s colostrum.
Among the mandatory procedures that help gather the necessary information are ultrasound, Doppler sonography, and cardiotocography.
The results of the triple test for genetic abnormalities, which the pregnant woman underwent during the first screening (hCG, AFP, estriol), play an important role.
Obstetrical and gynecologic interventions needed
In some cases, the gynecologist decides, after analyzing the data obtained, to continue the pregnancy or to induce labor through obstetric-gynecological interventions. It should be emphasized that the outcome depends a lot on the competence and experience of the doctor. He must weigh all the risks involved, which include:
- Fetal hypoxia (oxygen deprivation);
- Aspiration (getting meconium into the fetal airways, which is excreted in the amniotic fluid);
- Heavy baby weight;
- Hardening of the baby’s skull bones;
- Loss of body weight as a result of placental insufficiency;
- Fetal malnutrition;
- Cord entanglement around the baby’s neck;
- Lack of primordial lubrication and the possibility of injury.
If the maternity hospital doctor decides that further pregnancy is life-threatening for the mother or baby, he or she must then determine whether the process will take place through the birth canal or by cesarean section.
In natural childbirth, medics use special hormonal medications to induce contractions and open the cervix.
If serious complications arise, an unscheduled cesarean delivery may be scheduled.
Recommendations for expectant mothers
- Medical supervision at this term is very important, so it is necessary to be constantly under the supervision of a doctor. It is important to attend all appointments and examinations on time.
- Try not to overdo it with physical activity. In general, at this stage it is time to forget about training in the pool or in the fitness room. But walks in the fresh air should become a habit.
- Do not panic because of the long wait to see the baby. For parents who are expecting boys and expecting girls, these are the last days that they can devote to each other. You need to remember that childbirth is a natural process, and it does not tolerate haste.
- If the examinations will show that the fetus is premature and it is necessary to induce the birth process, the gynecologist will recommend several methods. These include long walks, enema with castor oil, nipple massage or intimacy with the father of the child.
- It is necessary to prepare for childbirth now: put a bag of things in an accessible place, shave the perineum area, organize regular hygiene procedures.
- Complete the final preparations for the birth of your baby. Most likely, you already know the sex of your baby, so buy clothes for him, because after discharge from the hospital there will be no time for this.
- Do not go out alone for a walk or a trip. Whenever you leave home, take your medical records, documents and phone with you.
To brighten up the days of heavy waiting and not to think about bad things, read literature on pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and caring for your newborn.
Nutrition before childbirth
The 42nd week of pregnancy is a considerable time, on reaching this stage most women do not feel completely well. To avoid aggravating your condition, to give your body energy and strength for the future birth, you need to eat a proper and balanced diet. Food should be light and quickly digestible. The diet should include vegetable salads, fresh carrot juice, linseed decoction, as well as foods containing protein – beef, fish and chicken. At this time, you should not eat too much dairy products, so as not to accelerate the process of hardening of the baby’s cranial bones.
Drinking regime should remain the same: about 1-1.5 liters of water without gas, morsels, compotes from dried fruits, green tea. As before, alcohol, soda and coffee drinks are prohibited, as well as fast food, smoked foods, pickles, fried and fatty foods. You should reduce the amount of salty food in your menu, because it retains fluid in the body and causes edema. Buns and sweets should be excluded, so as not to fatten yourself and the baby, who is already quite large.
Many pregnant women in the late term sometimes feel nauseous and have heartburn. Eat little, while increasing the number of meals to 6-7 per day. It is best to steam, bake or stew your food.
When to go to the hospital
42 weeks of pregnancy can suddenly be interrupted by childbirth. In some situations, the process is so rapid that the mother-to-be may be confused. In order to call an ambulance in time and get qualified medical help, a woman should know when to go to the maternity hospital:
- When a large amount of blood appears from the vagina (it is possible that a detachment of the baby site has begun);
- If there is leakage or sudden outflow of amniotic fluid and there are no contractions;
- If contractions, which were becoming more and more intense, suddenly weakened completely, and the intervals between them shortened;
- If you have symptoms of gestosis – nausea, vomiting, fainting, swelling of arms and legs, high blood pressure;
- If there is acute pain in the uterus.
After 40 weeks, physicians recommend that pregnant women go to a planned hospitalization. In case of premature birth, mother and baby should be under the supervision of doctors, who will provide urgent medical care if labor begins at 42 weeks of pregnancy.
Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)
Is 42 weeks of pregnancy overdue?
Pregnancy is considered to be “full-term” at 40 weeks (or 280 days). A pregnancy that continues for longer than 42 weeks is called a post-term, prolonged or overdue pregnancy. If the mother and baby are both doing well, being up to one week “late” isn't associated with any particular risks for either of them.
What causes pregnancy to be overdue?
The reason why the baby is overdue usually varies from case to case, and tends to be unknown. Sometimes it is because of a genetic predisposition (hereditary) issue. Women who have already had a baby that came much later than their due date are more likely to have an overdue baby in future pregnancies as well. Being born after the 40th week only rarely harms the child.