40 weeks…and still going

This week’s post is kinda long, but it actually ended up covering all the stuff that went on at the doc this week in my Babycenter weekly update. 

How your baby’s growing:

It’s hard to say for sure how big your baby will be, but the average newborn weighs about 7 1/2 pounds  and is about 20 inches long. 

How your life’s changing:

After months of anticipation, your due date rolls around, and… you’re still pregnant. It’s a frustrating, but common, situation in which to find yourself. You may not be as late as you think, especially if you’re relying solely on a due date calculated from the day of your last period because sometimes women ovulate later than expected. Even with reliable dating, some women have prolonged pregnancies for no apparent reason.

You still have a couple of weeks before you’ll be considered “post-term.” But to be sure your baby is still thriving, your practitioner will schedule you for testing to keep an eye on her if your pregnancy continues.

You may have a biophysical profile (BPP), which consists of an ultrasound to look at your baby’s overall movements, breathing movements (movement of her chest muscles and diaphragm), and muscle tone (whether she opens and closes her hand or extends and then flexes her limbs), as well as the amount of amniotic fluid that surrounds her (important because it’s a reflection of how well the placenta is supporting your baby).

Fetal heart rate monitoring (called a nonstress test or NST) will generally be done as well — by itself or as part of the BPP. Or, you may have what’s known as a modified BPP, which consists of an NST and an ultrasound to assess the amount of amniotic fluid.

If the fetal testing isn’t reassuring — the amniotic fluid level is too low, for example — you’ll be induced. If there’s a serious, urgent problem, you may have an immediate c-section.

Your practitioner will also check your cervix to see if it’s “ripening.” Its position, how soft it is, how effaced (thinned out) it is, and how dilated (open) it is can all affect when and how your labor is induced. If you don’t go into labor on your own, you’ll be induced, usually sometime between 41 and 42 weeks.

What’s the procedure like?

You may be advised to eat a meal just before the test in the hope that eating will stimulate your baby to move around more. Although there’s no hard evidence that this works, it can’t hurt. It’s also a good idea to use the bathroom before the test, because you’ll be lying strapped to a monitor for up to an hour. The test consists of:

A detailed ultrasound to observe your baby’s body movements, muscle tone (flexing of the arms and legs), and breathing movements (the baby’s ability to move his chest muscles and diaphragm), and the amount of amniotic fluid surrounding him.

nonstress test to assess whether your baby’s heart rate changes when he’s moving. For this, you lie on your left side. A technician straps two devices to your belly: One monitors your baby’s heartbeat and movement; the other records contractions in your uterus. The technician listens to and watches your baby’s heartbeat on an electronic screen.

So I had all of that done at my appointment today since I’m now considered “past due” of my Feb 13th due date that the doctors go by. However, since the original ultrasound due date was like Feb 18th, and she consistently measured behind like that at every ultrasound (and I’ve had 8 of them!), I don’t really consider her late yet. The nonstress test was actually kinda stressful for me, because I had Lucas with me in the room, and while I was *supposed* to be lying there restfully and counting fetal movements, I spent most of the time fussing at Lucas to stop pressing buttons on the machine and trying to keep him entertained. The midwife I saw today was able to get the results though, luckily. Then we did the ultrasound, which was kinda disappointing because Arianna is all lowered and in position (a good thing) so all the tech could see was the top of her head and not her face, so I didn’t get any pix this time. Arianna scored a 8/8 on her BPP  so everything is looking good in there. She measured at 7lbs 3oz currently. Her size measured her at only 38.5 weeks — even further behind than the other ultrasounds had been showing — but the tech said she could just be measuring small for her age. 

Unless I end up going into labor over the weekend, the current plan is: Monday @ 1 I go in to my regular doc for my 3rd NST (I had my first one at last Monday’s regular appointment). Monday evening I call the hospital and find out if they have a bed available for me, and as long as they aren’t full, I’ll check into the hospital Monday night. There they will give me a medicine(Cervidil) to prep me overnight. Then Tuesday morning I’ll be given pitocin to actually induce labor.

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