Welcome to week 40. Your due date is here! Congratulations, you are almost there.
Your baby was about the size of a honeydew melon last week, and this week is the size of a small pumpkin. Your baby measures almost 20.1 inches (51 cm) long and weighs 8 pounds (3.6 kg).
As a baby is squeezed through the birth canal in a vaginal birth, its head can get a cone-like shape. Do not panic. This is temporary, and their head will go back to being perfectly round and normal shortly after birth. Many parents put a cute hat on their newborn so no one can see that their head is a little misshapen from birth.
At birth, your baby can only focus their eyes about an inch away, but they will recognize your voice immediately. All the talking you do during pregnancy will pay off, and your baby will recognize and be comforted by your and your partner’s voices.
Appointments can be every few days if you go over your due date. Take advantage of the additional face time with your doctor or midwife to ask any questions about labor and birth.
This week is a good reminder that your due date estimates when your baby will arrive, it is not an exact science. It is undoubtedly not a deadline. Most estimates on how many babies are born on their due date are between 3-5%. According to CDC data, 57% of babies are born full term between 39 weeks and 40 weeks six days. 5.13% are born after 41 weeks.
Although many mothers go past their due date, it can still be frustrating. There are a lot of rumors about things you can do or food to eat to induce labor naturally. Some of these methods have science behind them. Others are old wives’ tales that you can probably skip. A few carry risks. This episode examines the evidence behind the methods thought to induce labor naturally. Methods included are exercise, baths, nipple stimulation, sex, acupuncture, acupressure, castor oil, evening primrose oil, red raspberry leaf, spicy foods, pineapple, basil, oregano, and dates.
Tip for Dads and Partners
If you ever needed an excuse to shack up with your significant other, you have a good one this week. A few mechanisms at work make sex a tool for naturally inducing labor. Getting intimate and having an orgasm promotes the release of oxytocin, the hormone that causes contractions. Female orgasms include uterine contractions. Plus, prostaglandins are highly concentrated in semen. Prostaglandins cause the cervix to ripen and uterine muscles to contract. Synthetic prostaglandins are some of the medications used to induce labor in a hospital setting.
The evidence to support having sex to initiate labor is mixed. You may need to modify positions to accommodate your wife or girlfriend’s belly. There is no downside as long as you and your partner are comfortable and having fun. Please talk to your doctor or midwife if you have any concerns or questions about having sex during pregnancy.
Want more evidence-based information to navigate your pregnancy and birth?
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