Weeks 40 to 41 of Your Pregnancy: Care Instructions

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By week 40, you've reached your due date. Your baby could be coming any day. Most babies born after their due dates are healthy. But you may have tests to make sure everything is okay. If you feel stressed, you could try a meditation exercise, such as guided imagery. It may help you relax.

If you are past 41 weeks, your doctor may measure the amount of fluid that surrounds your baby. They may also test your baby's movement and heart rate.

If you don't start labor on your own by 41 or 42 weeks, your doctor may want to start (induce) labor. If there are other concerns, your doctor may talk to you about a C-section.

To start (induce) your labor, your doctor may do any of these things.

  • Place a narrow tube with a small balloon on the end (balloon catheter) into your cervix. The doctor inflates the balloon. This helps your cervix open (dilate).

  • Sweep the membranes (separate the lining of the amniotic sac from the uterus). This helps the uterus make a chemical that can start contractions.

  • "Break your water" (rupture the amniotic sac). This may be done if your cervix has started to open.

  • Use medicines. They may be used to soften the cervix or start contractions.

How to do guided imagery

Close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Picture a peaceful setting, such as a beach or a meadow. Add a winding path. Follow the path until you feel more and more relaxed.

Take a few minutes to breathe slowly and feel the calm. When you are ready, slowly take yourself back to the present. Count to 3, and open your eyes.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.