Your baby this week
41 weeks pregnant

To induce or not to induce

There are various reasons you might choose (in conjunction with your caregiver) induction or augmentation of your labor -- and many times, medication will be used. In this article, Obstetrician/Gynecologist David Barrere tells you about the most common treatments used in these situations. There are several medications or chemicals used to induce or stimulate labor.

Important: Any of these methods can result in hyperstimulation (hypertonus) of the uterus. For this reason, hospitalization and close fetal monitoring are mandatory. Quite often, amniotomy (breaking the bag of waters) is used immediately after or in conjunction with these substances.

In real life

From Jalita's birth story: "It was a Thursday and I was six days past my due date. I had been dialated to 2 cm for three weeks! I had a doctor's appointment that day so me and my husband planned on begging the doctor for an induction. At the appointment, the doctor told me he wouldn't induce me until the next Tuesday, because he was getting ready to go out of town. I was a bit disappointed, but also secretly relieved. I feared labor. I had heard so many scary stories about how painful it was, and how long it lasted. I knew I was going to have to experience it, but I told myself maybe it wasnt so bad to wait five more days."Click here for more!

Really in the know?

Not all labors follow the textbook description. Is it possible that you really might not know when you're about to give birth? There is room for doubt when labor proceeds far more slowly or quickly than "normal," is relatively painless or the symptoms are simply not what you expect.

Robert B Cole, MD, an obstetrician/gynecologist in private practice in Walnut Creek, California, estimates, "Probably twenty percent of my patients make one or two trips to the hospital before being admitted." It's not always a simple matter of wishful thinking, as false labor can seem very real. It probably is not true labor if the contractions are not regular and rhythmic, do not increase in frequency and intensity, or if they fade with activity. Says Dr Cole, "She could be feeling Braxton-Hicks, or may have prodromal labor -- contractions producing little cervical change."

Read more in the article Is it really labor?

Test to see if you're ready

If you go past week 37 or so, every day, you're wondering, "When is this baby finally going to get here?!" Well, there's a test that offers a chance of finding out if you go post-dates, whether or not your labor needs to be induced.

A simple cervical swab test, the results of which can be determined in a hospital lab, can predict with some accuracy whether or not you are about to go into labor. The test looks for the presence of fetal fibronectin, a protein substance that helps connect the amniotic sac to the inside wall of the uterus. Fetal fibronectin is released into the cervix and vagina during labor or in the presence of an infection, when the bond between the placenta and uterine lining breaks down. Read more here!

After baby

Contrary to popular belief, it's a rare new mother indeed who can pull off the Heidi Klum supermodel look by the time her six-week checkup rolls around! Here are some tips on de-emphasizing your less-than-washboard-like abdominals until you've had a chance to morph back into your pre-pregnancy self.

Photo galleries