Week-by-week guide to pregnancy

pregnant woman sitting down
When you're pregnant, you have lots of questions. Our week-by-week pregnancy guide is packed with lots of useful information. From what's happening inside your body, to how your baby is developing, and tips and advice on having a healthy pregnancy – this is your one-stop pregnancy guide!

Third trimester

Our week-by-week pregnancy guide is full of essential information. From advice on writing a birth plan to what to expect at antenatal classes, you'll find it all here. Happy reading!

Week 41+ – your third trimester

It's not unusual to go past your due date, try to be patient and use this extra time to relax with your feet up.

What's happening in my body?

It's usually fine to go over by a week or so without any extra risks. However about 10 or 12 days after your due date, there is some evidence to suggest the placenta starts to work less well. Your care providers will discuss the best ways forward with you, which could involve extra monitoring or induction.

You might be offered a membrane sweep to start with. This is where your midwife or doctor sweeps their finger around inside you and separates your cervix from the membranes around your baby. The idea is to stimulate hormones that could bring on your contractions. You can watch a little video about it here.

For many women, it does the trick, and labour starts within 24-48 hours. However you may need a couple of sweeps to get going, and it doesn't work for everyone.

Tell us about your pregnancy!

We hope you're having a happy pregnancy. Please contact us through Start4Life's Facebook page and let us know. Have you found this website useful? Do you have any tips for other parents? Send us a picture, as we'd love to see you with your bump or your baby!


Around 1 in 5 births are induced, which means that drugs are used to get the labour going.

You might be offered a membrane sweep to start with - this can feel uncomfortable, but it doesn't harm you or the baby.

A drug called prostaglandin is then used to open up the cervix and get contractions going. It's put into the vagina as a gel or tablet. It can also be delivered through a pessary, which looks like a mini tampon and releases the drug over 24 hours.

You may need to have your waters broken if they do not break naturally. You may also be offered a drip containing another drug called syntocinon if the labour needs to be speeded up.

There's a lot to consider when you're offered an induction, so ask as many questions as you like. Here are a few things to consider…

  • there could be medical reasons why it's important for your baby to be delivered sooner rather than later
  • induction can often avoid the need for a caesarean
  • it could be more painful than a spontaneous delivery - you may end up with an assisted delivery using forceps (which are a bit like tongs) or a ventouse (which is a special suction cup).

You can read more about your options here.

Third trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 41+ weeks)

You could be feeling very frustrated, but try to stay calm as that's best for you and the baby.

Your pregnancy symptoms could include:

Tommy's the baby charity has produced a pregnancy guide with a further list of symptoms.

What does my baby look like?

The average baby is now around 3-4kg. We cannot be too precise, but imagine that there's a small pumpkin or a watermelon sitting in your stomach. The fast period of growth is now over. Your baby should be chubby enough, and mature enough, to survive in the big wide world, without any assistance.

Overdue babies tend to have red, dry and peeling skin. This is usually because they've lost their vernix, which is the greasy layer that stops their skin from drying out in the amniotic fluid. Don't be tempted to moisturise your baby's rough skin, as it could make it even worse. The red layer will peel off after a few days, without any help, revealing perfect skin underneath.

You can find out more about what your baby will look like here.

Action stations

Get your partner to take a picture of you – your baby will love to see the photo when they're older!

This week you could also...

You're probably on leave now. Find out how much leave and pay you're entitled to.

It's a good time to tone up those muscles 'down under'. Gentle exercises can help to prevent leakage when you laugh, sneeze, cough or jump around on your future baby's trampoline. Get the muscles going by pretending that you're having a wee and then stop the urine in midflow.

Do your best to stop smoking, give up alcohol and go easy on the cappuccinos. We know that's easy to say, but hard to do. Ask your midwife or GP for support.

We can usually get enough vitamin D from sunlight, but between October and March it's best to take a vitamin D supplement every day. Just 10 micrograms is all you need (it's the same for grown-ups and kids). It's worth checking if you're entitled to free vitamins.

Get moving! It's recommended that pregnant women do 150 minutes of exercise throughout the week. You could start off with just 10 minutes of daily exercise - perhaps take a brisk walk outside. Check out Sport England's #StayInWorkOut online exercises (scroll to the pregnancy section). Listen to your body and do what feels right for you.

Don't eat for two! Eat for you. Now you're in the third trimester, you may need an extra 200 calories a day, but that's not much. It's about the same as 2 slices of wholemeal toast and margarine.

Try to eat healthily, with plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and avoid processed, fatty and salty foods. You may be able to get free milk, fruit and veg through the Healthy Start scheme.

How are you today? If you're feeling anxious or low, then talk to your midwife or doctor who can point you in the right direction to get all the support that you need. You could also discuss your worries with your partner, friends and family. You may be worried about your relationship, or money, or having somewhere permanent to live. Don't bottle it up – you're important, so ask for help if you need it!

Getting pregnant again is probably the last thing on your mind! However now is a good time to start planning what type of contraception you would like to use after your baby is born. Making this decision when you're pregnant will give you one less thing to think about when you're looking after a newborn baby. Getting pregnant again could happen sooner than you realise and too short a gap between babies is known to cause problems. Talk to your GP or midwife to help you decide and get everything in place.

This week's treat

Get a new box set or book that will entertain you while you're waiting for your baby to arrive. Make it a good one – and then you can enjoy dipping back into it when the baby's born. You don't need to splash the cash – borrow from a friend, check charity shops, or visit your local library. Now put your feet up and enjoy it!

Go back to week 40

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