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Your due date is finally here!! Here’s what you can expect from week forty of your pregnancy.
Is due. Now!!!
Are due. Now!!!
WE MADE IT! I’m taking part of the credit for us achieving this milestone given that the last forty weeks have been filled with ALL the joys of intimate pregnancy talk. Hurrah, your due date is here! Well… technically it’s your estimated due date which means, of course, that there’s a good chance your baby won’t arrive today. Forty weeks of focusing on one date only to find that out the hard way, sorry. Actually only 4% of babies will arrive on their due date, meaning it’s pretty unlikely you’ll give birth today. However, it does now mean that things may swing in to action from your health care provider.
Depending on the policies in your area (this is UK based remember!), you may be offered intervention from 40 weeks onward. What does this mean? It means your midwife may offer you a stretch and sweep. For first time mums this is often offered any time from 40 weeks and for those who’ve given birth before it’ll be slightly later, however, this is the bit that depends on your provider. Timings aside, you may be wondering what a stretch and sweep is… so here we go. A stretch and sweep is performed by your midwife. They’ll insert their fingers into your vagina and locate your cervix. If your cervix is ‘favourable’, i.e. it’s moved forward, then they’ll insert one, or two, fingers into it. The stretch element is to ‘stretch’ the opening of your cervix in an attempt to aid dilation. If they can get access then they’ll also perform the ‘sweep’ side of things. They’ll use their finger to gently separate the membranes between your lower uterus and your waters.
Sounds nice doesn’t it? There are a few things to bear in mind with a stretch and sweep. Firstly, it’s optional. Your care provider may make it sound like it’s the done thing but it’s entirely up to you if you choose to have it done. It may break your waters, it may be ineffective, so it’s a choice rather than a must-have. Secondly, it can be uncomfortable, especially if your body isn’t ready. In order to perform a stretch and sweep your cervix must have started preparing for labour by softening and moving forward. So ask your midwife to go slowly and remember you can ask them to stop if it’s hurting. The first one I had was like this, the later ones (I had four the first time round!) were far more comfortable. It feels similar to a smear test if that helps. Finally, you’re almost certainly going to have bleeding and cramping after a sweep. By disturbing the membranes you’re trying to kick start your body into labour, so whilst some bleeding is normal be sure to ask your midwife for guidance on what is and isn’t to be expected.
Oh and don’t be disheartened if you hear that your cervix isn’t ‘favourable’ yet. Every person goes into labour at different speeds, you may be effaced and dilated for weeks prior to kick off, you may go from zero to baby in hours. As tempting as it is to go home and cry (I’ve been there), remember that it doesn’t mean a huge amount until you hit active labour!
Other fun things this week: Tick bloody tock. They say there’s nothing like watching a kettle boil but waiting for a baby to appear HAS to be up there. As frustrating as it is, you’ve just got to sit back and ride the wave safe in the knowledge that your baby will be here in the next fortnight. Terrifying!
Missed a week? Catch up on week thirty nine
Still waiting? Read about being overdue