Your physical changes this week
Swelling may trouble you in your vulvar region as well and there will be a general heaviness and feeling of congestion in your pelvis. The baby is likely to be sitting down low and you are very much aware of having more than 8 pounds (baby, placenta, and amniotic fluid) of solid mass just waiting to get out.
You may need to empty your bowels more frequently this week. The pressure of the baby on your lower bowel and rectum means there isn’t much room for waste products to accumulate. If you have been constipated until now, you could feel some welcome relief as the baby's head applies pressure to your rectum. Your bladder can’t fill with much urine before you feel the urge to go to the toilet.
You may notice a mucous-y vaginal discharge which is tinged with blood. Your cervix is so engorged with blood now that some slight blood loss is common.
Your emotional changes this week
You could get very tired of hearing people ask why you haven’t had the baby yet. You're sick of telling them why and repeating the same information. Limit social interaction and stay at home with your partner. Aim for the simplest life this week.
You could be worried about the potential of your membranes rupturing (waters breaking) in public. Pregnant women can envisage a huge gush of fluid, similar to a tsunami, washing away everything and everyone in its path. In reality, this is very unlikely. In less than 20% or pregnancies do membranes rupture before the uterus starts contracting. Keep some towels and sanitary pads handy.
If your membranes have ruptured but you haven’t started contracting or actively laboring, this can be a nervous wait. Most maternity units have a policy of inducing contractions if 12 hours have elapsed from when the membranes first ruptured. This is because of the risk of infection to the mother and baby. Among other functions, the membranes serve as a sterile, protective shield to the baby in the uterus.
Your baby's changes this week
Babies who are born overdue or post-dates also tend to have long fingernails. They can easily scratch their faces so invest in some mittens and safety nail clippers. The best time to cut their fingernails is after a bath when the nails are soft. Ask one of your nurses to show you the best way to do this.
Overdue babies tend to be hungry babies. They haven’t been fed as well by the placenta in the last couple of weeks. They demand to be fed often and want to compensate for what they feel they've missed out on. Offering breastfeeds early and frequently after birth assists in establishing lactation and helps with creating close emotional connections.
Hints for the week
Keep in close contact with your provider and seek their support and advice. They will speak with you about different induction techniques including AROM (Artificial Rupture of the Membranes), misoprostol or a catheter to ripen your cervix and a Pitocin infusion.
Congratulate yourself for getting to the end of a long pregnancy. This is only the beginning!
For more information see Pregnancy Week by Week.
The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.