Pregnancy weeks 39, 40 and 41

This period is characterised by waiting for the birth, and some women start to become impatient. The preparations that the body has been making recently are important.

Newborn baby after birth

Illustration: Irina Schmidt / Mostphotos

The cervix softens and the contractions of the womb are uncoordinated and irregular. Towards the end of the pregnancy, the level of activity will subside, and it can be tiresome at times.

Ready for labour

The baby is now ready to be born. It takes up nutrition in order to have some in reserve during labour and will now weigh between 2,500 and 4,500 grams. It will be between 45 and 55 centimetres long.

The birth

From the beginning of week 37, the birth can occur within a period of 4-5 weeks without it being considered abnormal. Around 7-12 days after the due date, the mother will be assessed if she has not yet gone into labour.

The assessment will be carried out at the hospital where the birth is to take place. The term ‘overdue pregnancy’ is applied when a pregnancy has lasted 42 weeks. From this point, consideration will be given to whether it is necessary to induce labour.

Signs of labour

Loss of the mucus plug is a sign that the body is getting ready for labour, but it gives no indication of when the labour will actually start. However, the vast majority of women do not notice that they have lost their mucus plug, so this can be difficult to detect. Labour has usually begun once you start experiencing regular contractions.

If your waters break without you experiencing contractions, the contractions will normally start by themselves within 24 hours. If your waters have broken or liquid is seeping out which you think may be amniotic fluid, you should contact the place where you are due to have your baby.