42 weeks pregnant: advice, symptoms, and what to expect

by Deborah Cicurel |
Updated on

At forty-two weeks pregnant - this is it! (We know you probably thought that at 41 weeks pregnant too, sorry...) But if you haven’t given birth yet, this will be the week: whether or not your baby wants to come out yet, your doctor will likely induce you this week. Find out what your baby and body are doing in the final, 42nd week of your pregnancy.

How big is my baby at 42 weeks?

Your baby will weigh up to nine pounds and be between 19 and 22 inches from head to bottom. They have been shy so far, enjoying their comfy home in your womb, but it’s finally time for them to make their big appearance.

What’s my baby doing at 42 weeks?

Babies who are overdue may look a little wrinkled, dry or cracked when they first arrive. The protective vernix around their body was shed weeks ago in preparation for the due date that went by what feels like years ago. Don’t worry, once they start feeding regularly, their skin will return to normal.

They may also have long fingernails and toenails, longer hair, and none of the downy baby hair known as lanugo. Plus, some babies produce meconium (their first little poos) in the womb, so their skin may have a slight green tinge. Don't worry, this will all disappear a few days after the birth.

How to bring on labour: Natural ways to induce labour that really work

Common symptoms to look out for:


42 weeks pregnant: advice, symptoms, and what to expect

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1) Diarrhoea

Many women experience diarrhoea just before going into labour, as it’s nature’s way of emptying your intestines to make way for the baby’s journey through the birth canal. It’s not the most exciting signal, but it is a signal, so look on the bright side: your baby’s nearly here!

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2) Braxton Hicks

Yup, even though you’re not far from the real contractions, you might have even more frequent Braxton Hicks contractions as your body prepares for labour. If they start to appear more regular, call your doctor, as they might be the real thing.

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3) Difficulty sleeping

You are probably counting down the hours until your little one arrives or until the time comes to be induced. This does not make for a good sleep environment or mood. Try and relax with breathing techniques, read a book to distract you or have a bath to soothe any aches and pains.

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4) Oedema

You’ve got such a high volume of bodily fluids and such trouble moving around that this naturally brings on swelling in your feet and ankles, also known as oedema. Although it might seem counter-productive, drinking lots really can help. You could also try to lie or sit down with your feet elevated to prevent fluids from gathering in your ankles and feet.

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5) Waters breaking

If you notice any fluid being released, even if it is just a trickle then call your doctor. Otherwise, your waters usually break with a huge gush meaning labour will begin within hours.

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6) Bloody show

The bloody show is a thick mucus-like discharge which can be tinged with blood. It signals that the cervix is getting ready for delivery meaning labour will start soon although 'soon' is pretty unpredictable.

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7) Contractions

You're looking out for strong and regular contractions. This is the most obvious sign of labour and the one that for weeks you've been mentally preparing yourself for. They are much more intense than Braxton Hicks and they won't go away (sorry!) until the baby is born. If you’re already a mum, good news: the delivery of second (or third, or fourth!) babies are usually shorter and easier than the first.

What is my body doing at 42 weeks?

You may be frustrated at the fact your baby is overdue, but remember that only 2% of women are really overdue. Most of the time - 70% of the time, in fact - women aren’t actually post-term, but they have been told they are thanks to miscalculations around the due date.

This is usually because the expecting mum wasn’t sure of the exact time of conception, thanks to irregular ovulation or confusion around the exact date of her last period. Just remember the frustration’s nearly over: within a week, you’ll have your very own little baby to cuddle.

If you’ve had membrane sweeps and your contractions have still not started, your midwife may recommend that you are induced to start labour off.

Firstly she will insert a pessary or gel which contains prostaglandins (hormones that cause your cervix to ripen and can start labour) into your vagina.

Your midwife may also try breaking your waters – it’s known as artificial rupture of membranes (ARM). It’s not usually offered unless a sweep hasn’t worked and is more often used to speed up labour if it’s not progressing. Your midwife or doctor will insert an amnihook, which is a bit like a crochet needle, to break the amniotic sac.

Finally, there’s Syntocinon – a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin. Your waters need to have broken before you can be given Syntocinon. You’ll be hooked up to an intravenous drip so the hormone can go straight into your bloodstream.

It can cause strong contractions so you’ll need to be monitored and you may want to consider pain relief such as an epidural.

What to do this week:

Be aware of your rights. You have the right to decline an induction if you wish. Your obstetrician will chat with you about any risks that exist for you and your baby, but they should also respect your wishes.

The main risk is that your placenta can start to become less efficient at supplying your baby with all the food and nutrients and oxygen needed to grow properly. That’s why you will be monitored regularly when you’re overdue with scans and heartbeat checks.

Remember, your due date can be inaccurate as it’s worked out as 280 days after the first day of your last period. However, if your menstrual cycle is normally longer than 28 days, the true date can be different. Ultimately, remember the doctors and midwives are all looking out for the wellbeing of you and your baby – who you are going to meet very soon!

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