42 Weeks Pregnant: Symptoms & Baby Development
42 Weeks Pregnant
September 6, 2022

42 Weeks Pregnant

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42 Weeks Pregnant.
42 Weeks Pregnant

At 42 weeks gestation, your baby is considered later than late and officially “postterm.” You may be wondering if every Braxton Hicks contraction is the real thing, and your doctor may talk to you about getting an induction. Read on to learn what all to expect at 42 weeks pregnant.

How Many Months Is 42 Weeks Pregnant?

42 weeks pregnant in months is nine and a half months pregnant, which is part of the third trimester of pregnancy.

While you typically hear about pregnancy lasting nine months, that’s really only based on giving birth right on your due date at 40 weeks pregnant. But if you reach week 42 of pregnancy, you’ve officially gone past the “typical” nine months!

Your Baby at 42 Weeks

Welcome to the “postterm” period, baby! Your baby is still putting on a little weight, and babies born later do tend to be a bit bigger than full-term babies. Postterm babies also tend to be more alert at birth, thanks to all that extra baking. But even if they’re still comfy in utero, baby is now reaching the point where they’ll be evicted, whether they like it or not. This is because the risk of birth complications increases a bit this week:

Macrosomia, or high fetal weight (baby weighs more than 4000-4500g, or nine to ten pounds and up), has the following risks associated with it, says Dr. Christine Sterling, founder of the Sterling Parents community:

  • Abnormal labor progression (stages of labor are longer/slower than normal)
  • Cesarean birth
  • Assisted (vacuum or forceps) vaginal birth
  • Shoulder dystocia (a newborn injury that occurs when baby’s shoulders become stuck during vaginal delivery)
  • Maternal/fetal/newborn birth injury
  • Postpartum hemorrhage
  • Neonatal metabolic problems

Fetal Dysmaturity (postmaturity) Syndrome is when a fetus stops gaining weight after their due date, resulting in a lower-than-expect birth weight for a postterm baby. This syndrome is “a result of intrauterine malnutrition,” Sterling says. “And it occurs in approximately 20% of postterm pregnancies.” As you get further from your due date, the placenta starts to age and may not carry nutrition and oxygen to your baby as well as it did. “Babies with postmaturity syndrome are at risk for metabolic problems, NICU admission, lung problems and neurodevelopmental complications (eg, seizures, cerebral palsy),” Sterling says.

Because of the increased risk of these complications, your healthcare provider is probably recommending induction.

How Big Is a Baby at 42 Weeks?

A 42 week fetus is on average 20.3 inches long and weighs 8.1 pounds. That’s about the size of a punch balloon.

42 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound

The good news is that this will be your last ultrasound. Your doctor will very likely talk to you about induction at this appointment, but try not to worry too much. In addition to Pitocin and cervical ripening creams, there are other methods of medical induction that your hospital team may offer like breaking your water or using a balloon (yep, a balloon). Brush up on the details before you head in, and ask as many questions as you can about the process, so you can make informed decisions.

Your doctor will also likely perform a nonstress test at your final appointment to check baby’s heart rate and monitor for any potential complications.

Your Body at 42 Weeks of Pregnancy

Wondering what happens to your body when you’re postterm? While there’s a good chance things will run smoothly during labor and delivery if you’ve had an uncomplicated pregnancy so far, there is an increased risk of your labor lasting longer than average. And thanks to the likelihood that your baby will be on the larger side, you’re also more likely to experience an injury during vaginal delivery (like vaginal tearing) or needing a C-section even if you were planning for a vaginal delivery.

42 Weeks Pregnant Symptoms

Once you’re past your due date, you’re not likely to feel much different than in the previous two weeks (other than probably increased impatience or anxiety around finally going into labor). “The experience of pregnancy symptoms is highly variable,” Sterling says, “[but] in my experience, pregnancy symptoms do not increase appreciably or consistently after someone has reached their due date.”

These are they key symptoms you’re likely to experience:

Contractions

At this point, it might be harder than ever to decipher whether or not you’re having Braxton Hicks contractions or if your body’s heading into active labor. Remember to time the contractions—both how long they last and how far apart they are. Many doctors tell patients to head to the hospital when the contractions are about five minutes apart, lasting 60 seconds each for about an hour. Of course, it all depends on how close you are to the hospital and how many babies you’ve delivered before, since first-time labor sometimes can take a little longer than subsequent ones do.

Stress

You might have an overwhelming sense of stress and anticipation for baby’s arrival. After all, you’ve been waiting two weeks longer than you thought you’d have to, and everyone keeps asking you where that baby is! Try not to let yourself stress; so long as your doctor is watching baby closely with nonstress tests, and you’re doing kick counts and all is normal, things should be alright. Try to relax and perhaps try some meditation or practice any labor relaxation techniques you’ve learned.

Fatigue

You’re understandably probably tired of being pregnant at this point, but you may be physically exhausted as well. After all, you’ve been carrying around extra weight for a while, and you might be having trouble sleeping since you’re uncomfortable and stressed.

Fun Fact

Many cultures honor a 40 day “lying-in” period when a mother stays at home to recuperate from birth.

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42 Weeks Baby Bumps from Real Parents

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Commonly Asked Questions about 42 Weeks Pregnant

Is a 42-week Pregnancy Normal?

According to the US National Library of Medicine, going into postterm “happens in a small number of pregnancies.” So it’s not that it isn’t normal, but it isn’t necessarily common. If you’re worried about why you’re still pregnant this far past your due date, there are a few possible reasons. The biggest risk factor that can make someone more likely to carry into post term, Sterling says, is having a previous pregnancy that went just as late. Other risk factors Sterling lists:

  • It’s your first pregnancy
  • You’re having a male baby
  • You have a larger body size
  • You’re in an older age range
  • You’re a non-Hispanic white person

Will I Get Tax Breaks?

Parenting is expensive, but Uncle Sam wants to make it easier on you. Once you have a child, there are tax benefits you might qualify for: Child Tax Credit, Child and Dependent Care Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit. There’s a special adoption credit too! Even if your child is born on December 31, you get the tax benefits for the entire year. (Get more specifics from TurboTax.)

In order to add your child to your tax form, you will need their social security card. You will probably apply for this at the hospital when you fill out the birth certificate paperwork. If you had a home birth, here are the directions on how to get your child’s SSN. They generally take between one and four weeks to process.

Top Tip for 42 Weeks Pregnant

A Dependent Care FSA can save you about 30 percent on childcare! If your employer offers one, put in as much money as you need for childcare this calendar year (up to $5,000). If they don’t, look into the Dependent Care Tax Credit, which covers up to $3,000.

Signs of Labor at 42 Weeks

  • Contractions are five minutes, last about 60 seconds each and steadily increase in severity (the increase in severity will be noticeably different than Braxton-Hicks contractions, which stay at the same level of intensity no matter how long they last)
  • Water breaking, which can feel like a gush or a light trickle, almost like you peed yourself
  • Bloody show or loss of mucus plug caused by cervical dilation

Week 42 Pregnancy Checklist

  • Go to your week 42 prenatal visit.
  • Go to your ultrasound and/or nonstress test appointments if your doctor recommends them.
  • Schedule your induction if you and the doc decided you should have one.
  • If you’re having an induction, pack a few extra magazines, download some podcasts and have other things on hand to occupy your mind, since you might be waiting for a while for labor to really kick in.
  • Grab that hospital bag and go. It’s time to meet your baby!

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