42 Weeks Pregnant
Welcome to a “post-term” pregnancy. If you’re reading this, you’re one of the rare moms-to-be who makes it to 42 weeks pregnant. Don’t let all those people asking you where your baby is and why you haven’t been induced make you feel like something’s wrong. Every mom-to-be and baby is different and your due date is just an estimate—and sometimes due dates are miscalculated too! So there’s absolutely nothing wrong with making it to week 42 of pregnancy. And while you might feel like you’re going a little crazy with anxiety, remember: 98 percent of babies emerge by the end of week 42. So you’ll get to meet baby really soon—we promise!
How Big Is Baby at 42 Weeks?
At 42 weeks pregnant, baby is the size of a watermelon—a bigger watermelon than last week. The average 42-week fetus measures 20.3 inches and weighs 8.1 pounds. Yup, baby is still growing! But don’t worry, they’re unlikely to be too big to deliver vaginally.
42 Weeks Pregnant Is How Many Months?
Forty-two weeks pregnant is 10 months and about two weeks. Yes, it happens!
Your 42 weeks pregnant symptoms are probably the same ones you’ve been feeling the past few weeks—leg cramps, trouble sleeping, backaches, pelvic pressure, hemorrhoids, frequent urination and contractions—just maybe more intense.
You might be stressed at 42 weeks pregnant. No one said pregnancy after 40 weeks was easy! Try to be patient as you let baby decide when to make their debut.
Know that at 42 weeks pregnant, risks are higher for complications such as placental problems, low amniotic fluid and a pinched umbilical cord. And baby is at a slightly higher risk of having to go to the NICU. Keep doing kick counts and letting your OB know if you notice any changes in kick frequency. Also tell your doctor right away if you have any troubling 42 weeks pregnant symptoms, such as strange discharge, bleeding or abdominal pain.
At 42 weeks pregnant, the signs of labor—the ones you’ve been waiting for!—may begin. Look out for:
- Mucus plug and/or bloody show. The thick mucus discharge—sometimes tinged with blood—is a sign the cervix is getting itself ready for delivery. It’s often a sign labor will start soon, though just how soon, we can’t predict!
- Water breaking. If you’re leaking amniotic fluid or if your water breaks in one huge gush, call your doctor. Labor will probably begin within hours.
- Regular contractions. Hallelujah! This sign you’re in labor is the one you’ve probably been anticipating most. These guys are more intense than any Braxton Hicks contractions you may have been having, and most importantly, they don’t go away. True labor contractions happen over and over, at shorter intervals and at higher intensity (ouch!), and don’t let up until baby is born. (Yay!)
Wondering how to induce labor at 42 weeks pregnant? You probably have been trying natural methods such as walking, sex and acupuncture. But don’t resort to drinking castor oil (you’ll probably just make yourself sick), taking herbal supplements (they could be dangerous to you and baby) or stimulating your nipples (the resulting contractions could be too strong and dangerous for baby).
Because at 42 weeks pregnant risks increase, your doctor may recommend a medical labor induction if tests show it isn’t safe for baby to stay in utero much longer. Ways your doctor can induce labor are:
- Stripping the membranes. At 42 weeks pregnant, this technique might be the thing that sets your body over the edge. Your doctor uses a finger to swipe around the amniotic sac. The hormones released often cause contractions within 48 hours.
- Breaking your water. Using an instrument that looks like a plastic hook, your doctor breaks the amniotic sac. This can cause contractions in just hours.
- Ripening your cervix. A medication called prostaglandin is inserted vaginally overnight or taken orally in order to dilate the cervix.
- Stimulating contractions. You’ll be hooked up to an IV with a synthetic version of the hormone oxytocin. This medication can get contractions started.
Because your 42-week baby has probably shed the vernix caseosa (that filmy stuff that covered their skin), the skin is probably getting a little dry at this point.
Because of the 42 weeks pregnant risks, your OB will want to monitor baby extra closely. A 42 weeks pregnant ultrasound, a non-stress test and a biophysical profile will be given to make sure baby is still moving well, has plenty of amniotic fluid, is breathing well and has a healthy heart rate.
Rest assured that as long as baby is being watched with an eagle eye, they’re doing just fine in there. And they may be comfy inside your uterus, but they can’t stay there forever!
Reminders for the week:
- Take more long walks
- Discuss 42 weeks pregnant risks with your OB
- Try to relax!
Medical content was reviewed February 2020 by Sherry A. Ross, MD, an ob-gyn and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, and author of she-ology and she-ology, the she-quel: let’s continue the conversation.