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Week 41 of Pregnancy

Written by Amina Hatia RM
Medically reviewed by Marley Hall BA RM Diphe
March 18, 2022

If you are reading this, then you are either thinking ahead or now past your due date and feeling a whole range of emotions!

If it’s any consolation you are not alone – only about 5% of babies arrive on their due date so it’s not unusual to go past your due date, and plenty of others have been in exactly the same place too.

You may be wondering why me – the answer is we don’t really know why some babies are born after 40 weeks. Your age, your weight, your lifestyle, if it’s your first baby, your family history will all have an impact – so it’s hard to determine one cause.

If you have been well in this pregnancy and your baby has too, then your midwife will probably discuss and advise that it’s usually fine to go over by a week or so without any extra risks. However, there is some evidence that suggests that your placenta is not as efficient 10-12 days after your due date, but don’t be alarmed – your midwife and doctors will discuss all of this individualised to you and the options going forward such as extra monitoring or induction.

Your midwife may also discuss a membrane sweep with you at this stage or even a little earlier at 39-40 weeks. A membrane sweep is a procedure where your midwife will insert a finger inside your vagina in order to reach the cervix. If they are able to reach the cervix, they will then make a ‘sweeping’ circular movement with their finger to try and separate the sac surrounding your baby from the cervix. 

A membrane sweep is thought to help as it can release hormones that stimulate contractions naturally in the hope of getting labour started. 

Now a membrane sweep isn’t a guarantee that you will go into labour spontaneously as only one out of eight membrane sweeps result in labour. If labour doesn’t start after your membrane sweep, your midwife will discuss having another sweep a few days later with you – as for some this does work, and labour starts within 24-48 hours.

Membrane sweeps are considered to be generally safe where there are no other complications. It’s important to bear in mind that just because a sweep is offered, you don’t have to accept the offer. Your midwife will explain the process to you and will also advise you on the risks and benefits and then support you in whatever decision you make.

How big is my baby at 41 weeks?

It’s hard to estimate – but as the period of fast growth has ended, your baby may weigh around 3-4kg. Your midwife or doctor will continue to monitor your baby’s growth until baby arrives.

What happens in week 41 of pregnancy?

Your baby at this stage is ready to be born.  As the vernix, the greasy layer of protection baby has had from the amniotic fluid around them has almost completely disappeared by 41-42 weeks, babies who are born at this stage may have patches of dry, red and peeling skin. It’s not a cause for concern and once baby has arrived it will resolve by itself.

41 pregnancy symptoms

Anxiety – It’s completely understandable to experience some anxiety in pregnancy and even more so when your due date has passed, and you are still waiting for baby’s arrival. Try to find ways to relax – be it through hypnobirthing, meditations or just taking a break from looking out for every little sign.  

Baby’s Movements – Your baby’s movements should remain in the same pattern and frequency right up until baby is born. Keep an eye out for them and if you are at all worried or unsure, contact your midwife or maternity unit straight away.

Signs of Labour – You may be keenly looking for any sign or symptom of labour starting at 41 weeks and trying to work out what your options are and what to do next.  Your midwife is the best person to discuss this with and you will be seeing them weekly now until baby arrives, so don’t be shy in asking.

  • Signs of labour starting can include:
  • Uterine tightening or contractions
  • The Mucus plug coming away – often called aa “show”
  • Lower backache
  • Looser stools or an urge to go to the toilet, caused by your baby’s head 
  • Your waters breaking

This isn’t an exhaustive list and many women report having a stronger nesting feeling the day before or just knowing something is about to happen, whereas others say they had no signs or symptoms at all.

Week 41 pregnancy tips

  • Switch off where you can – you will go into labour when your body and baby are ready. Trying to plan or overthink it can cause you stress and leave you feeling anxious.
  • Eat well, keep yourself well hydrated and rest too. Get out and about for fresh air and gentle exercise. Spend time together before the baby arrives.
  • If you are worried about anything – or feel your baby’s movements have changed do not hesitate in contacting your midwife or maternity unit.