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Pregnancy Calendar – Week Forty-One

If you are reading this, our hat goes off to you. You are past-due and boy are you probably ready to give birth! Your baby is now likely to be twenty-one inches long and possibly weighs up to eight and a half pounds. Your baby is continuing to get ready for birth by moving down into the pelvis, if he or she hasn’t moved down already. The baby has developed a firm grasp and a reflex for sucking that will help with nourishment after birth. 

Your doctor may order special tests to monitor the baby if this hasn’t been done already. One test is a biophysical profile (BPP), which includes an in-depth ultrasound to look at your baby’s overall movements, breathing, and the amount of amniotic fluid that surrounds her. The test may also include twenty minutes or more of monitoring the baby’s heart rate. If the tests indicate any problems, such as low amniotic fluid levels, your physician may want to schedule an induction. Before your doctor or midwife decides to induce labor, your cervix will be checked for softness, effacement (thinning out), and dilation (opening up). If your cervix is still thick and closed, your doctor will use some method to ripen it (get your cervix ready) before labor is induced. Talk to your doctor or midwife about what methods are used to help get labor started if it becomes necessary. In the meantime, be sure to notify your practitioner right away if your baby’s movements slow down or if any fluid is leaking from your vagina.

Most likely, you will go into labor on your own this week. Continue to monitor your baby’s movements, and let your doctor know if there is any change.

Hot Topic: Triggering Labor

You may hear about different things you can try at home to start labor. Do not attempt any methods that may start labor without your doctor’s consent. Most are old wives tales and have not been proven effective. At this point, you may be willing to try anything! Just note that some can cause stress. Here are a few that are probably harmless, but tell your doctor you are planning to try these:

  • Stimulation of your nipples: This releases oxytocin and can also result in hard contractions that put stress on the baby
  • Eating spicy foods: All I can say is indigestion
  • Having sex: The prostaglandins in semen supposedly help the cervix to soften, but many doctors don’t believe the prostaglandin levels high are enough to have an effect
  • Aromatherapy: Although this may be helpful for relaxation, no reliable studies have been done to show any effect on starting labor
  • Taking long walks: This one is probably not harmful, but unless you are accustomed to long walks, you may get tired out quickly—take a friend and your cell phone!

 A Mom’s Suggestion: Find a good book to read, preferably not about pregnancy and parenting. At this point, you may need a little distraction!

Eating for Two: Alternatives to Cooking 

This is not a week for you to be standing on your feet. Recruit your partner or a friend to cook for you and collect takeout and delivery menus from local restaurants. You can even circle your favorite items, so you will have some choices when you need a quick meal. Other ideas for easy meals include:

Amy’s Veggie Smoothie

  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt, frozen
  • 1/4 cup soy milk, frozen
  • 1/2 cup vegetable juice
  • 1/4 cup spinach
  • 1/4 cup apples, seeded, peeled, and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice·             
  • Seasoning (add your favorite: salt, pepper, celery salt, onion or garlic powder, balsamic vinegar, or Tabasco sauce)

Directions

1. Combine first six ingredients in blender; process until smooth.

2. Add seasonings to taste. Serves two.

Becca’s Whole-wheat English Muffin Pizza

  • Two whole grain English muffins, split in half
  • 4 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons basil
  • 4 tablespoons shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Directions

1. Place English muffins split side up on toaster oven pan or baking sheet. Spread 1 tablespoon tomato sauce on each muffin half.

2. Sprinkle with oregano, basil, and cheeses.

3. Toast at 350° F for about five minutes, or until cheese is melted. Serve hot.

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