At a glance:
- Baby got big
- Having a membrane sweep
- ...and getting bored
What’s happening to your baby
Still no joy? Don’t worry, babies rarely arrive on their due date and can be up to two weeks late. In the week or two before your baby is due, he’ll start shedding the greasy, white substance, which has been protecting his skin, called vernix. This turns the amniotic fluid, which was once clear, pale and milky.
Overdue babies can be slightly larger than other babies as they’ve had longer to grow and their skull bones have had longer to fuse together. Both these things mean you have a slightly higher chance of having an assisted delivery with forceps or ventouse.
What’s happening to you
Once you reach 41 weeks, your midwife will do checks at the hospital, which may include an ultrasound scan to make sure your baby is still growing properly. Your baby will also be monitored every few days to check that his heartbeat and movements are normal.
Your midwife may offer to do a membrane sweep as it can increase the chance of labour starting within 48 hours. This is when she sweeps a finger around your cervix to separate the membranes of the amniotic sac that your baby is in from your cervix. This releases hormones (prostaglandins) which could trigger labour within 48 hours.
Sometimes your midwife won’t be able to reach the amniotic sac and instead will stretch and massage the cervix. This can start the ripening of your cervix and will make it easier for your midwife to do a proper sweep the next time she sees you.
We’ll be honest, a membrane sweep can be a little uncomfortable, as the cervix is often difficult to reach before your labour begins. Try doing some deep breathing exercises to help you to relax while your midwife is carrying out the sweep.
The procedure shouldn’t take too long and with any luck, things will start happening, although you may need it done more than once.
By this point, you’ll probably be fed up with being pregnant and desperate for your baby to just hurry up and arrive! There's nothing thrilling about being constantly asked when the baby is going to arrive and going to the loo 15 times a day.
If you’re overdue and are completely prepared (be honest – have you packed your hospital bag, stocked your fridge and freezer and practiced fitting your car seat?), the best thing you can do is rest. Settle down with your favourite DVD boxset or book, as who knows when you’ll have time to do it once your baby is born?
Image courtesy of Your Pregnancy Day-By-Day by Professor Stuart Campbell, published by Carroll & Brown, £9.99