About all

Nausea at 40 weeks pregnant: Symptoms and Signs of Labor


40 Weeks Pregnant | Pregnancy

What’s happening in my body?

If this is your first baby, then you’ll have an antenatal appointment this week. Your blood pressure will be checked, your bump will be measured and you’ll hand over a urine sample. You know the drill! Your midwife or doctor will be checking for signs of pre-eclampsia, a dangerous condition that’s characterised by high blood pressure and protein in the urine.

You’re probably getting a lot of practice contractions now, which should not be painful. These are Braxton Hicks contractions. When you start getting labour pains, you’ll know all about it! Real contractions hurt when your bump goes tight, and then the pain goes away when the muscles relax.

Labour is divided into 3 stages. The first stage is when you have contractions and your cervix opens up until it’s 10cm across (fully dilated). The first stage lasts 6-12 hours, or less if you’ve had other children. The second stage is where the baby is delivered – and the third stage is when the placenta comes out.

You can read more about what happens during labour here.

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!

From breathing to bananas: 8 tips for your labour

These tips could help you feel in control and manage your pain:

  1. If your contractions start at night, try to sleep your way through as much as possible – the rest will help to prepare you for the birth, and your cervix will dilate while you sleep.

  2. If your contractions start in the day, then keep upright and active as this helps the baby to move down and your cervix to open up. This could speed up your labour and reduce the need for painkilling drugs.

  3. Try different positions. Rock on a birth ball, or put your arms around your partner’s neck and lean on them. Just keep moving!

  4. Have a warm bath or shower – it’s a tried and tested method of pain relief that’s thought to date back thousands of years.

  5. Focus on breathing. You can practise your breathing techniques now. Take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Keep your jaw relaxed.

  6. Ask your partner for a massage and involve them in your labour. Having their support and reassurance will encourage your body to produce more endorphins, which are brilliant natural painkillers. Here are some more ways that your partner could support you.

  7. Eat something healthy to keep up your energy levels, like a banana or low-fat yoghurt. Avoid fatty foods, as they could make you feel sick, and steer clear of sugary foods as they’ll only give you a quick hit before a slump.

  8. Keep calm and carry on. If you feel relaxed, you will be able to manage your labour and pain much better than if you’re stressed.

When your contractions last for at least 60 seconds and come every 5 minutes, call your hospital or midwife.

Will curries and sex bring on labour?

You’ve probably searched the internet for ways to bring on labour and found tips that range from sex to vindaloos. There’s a round-up here which will give you the lowdown on everything from raspberry leaf tea to nipple stimulation.

The upshot is that there are no proven ways to safely bring on labour at home. Get advice from your doctor or midwife before trying anything other than watching and waiting.

Third trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 40 weeks)

Do you feel like you’ve got PMT? Or do you have lower backache? These could be early signs of labour. Check out these 5 signs that your baby is on the way.

Your signs of pregnancy could also include:

  • painless contractions around your bump, known as Braxton Hicks contractions
  • tiredness and sleeping problems
  • stretch marks
  • swollen and bleeding gums
  • pains on the side of your belly, caused by your expanding womb (round ligament pains)
  • piles
  • headaches
  • backache
  • indigestion and heartburn
  • bloating and constipation
  • leg cramps
  • feeling hot
  • dizziness
  • swollen hands and feet
  • urine infections
  • vaginal infections
  • darkened skin on your face or brown patches – this is known as chloasma or the mask of pregnancy
  • greasier, spotty skin
  • thicker and shinier hair
  • symptoms from earlier weeks, caused by pregnancy hormones, such as mood swings, morning sickness, weird pregnancy cravings, a heightened sense of smell, sore or leaky breasts , a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina and light spotting (seek medical advice for any bleeding)

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

Nausea, back pain, mucus plug -Kidspot

What does backache, period pain, mucus plug or bloody show, vomiting and nausea have in common? They are all pre-labour symptoms you may experience.

Backache and period pain

During pre-labour many women feel lower backache or dull throbbing pain, similar to period cramping. This discomfort can come and go, or it may be there all the time. This pre-labour sign usually means the cervix is softening and ripening as the baby engages (or perhaps because the baby is in a posterior position – with their back is towards their mother’s spine). Some women feel backache from their pelvis moving and shifting with relaxed pelvic ligaments. This pelvic flexibility allows your bones to open slightly in readiness for labour and the birth of your baby.

If you are feeling backache during the evening or night, try a heat pack or hot water bottle and return to bed. If you are unable to sleep, try just resting or perhaps some suggestions in Insomnia during Pregnancy. If you are feeling achy during the day, rest as you need to or try and carry on as normal. Some women go out with friends, others stay close to home. It is important to keep your fluids up and eat, remember… it is just the beginning. You may also wish to read how to make up heat packs.

Want to join the family? Sign up to our Kidspot newsletter for more stories like this. 

You may feel back pain. Source: iStock.

RELATED: Early pregnancy symptoms: Signs you may be pregnant

Mucus plug or bloody show

During pregnancy a woman’s cervix produces thick mucus, filling the opening to act as a plug to seal the uterus. Towards the end of pregnancy, the cervix may start to thin and soften, sometimes releasing this mucus plug, known as a show. The show can come away during pre-labour but it is not necessary for this to happen. More often than not, the show comes away during strong established labour, or when the cervix is fully dilated just before the pushing phase of labour. Also, you don’t necessarily need to have a show if your waters break.

A show may present itself as:

  • A neat plug similar in shape to a tampon.
  • A large blob, big enough to fill your hand.
  • Small dribs and drabs coming away over days, only noticed when you wipe yourself after going to the toilet. This can look like a thick mucus discharge.
  • Something that comes away when you go to the toilet, which you may or may not notice.

A show can vary in colour from being, clear, yellow cream, greyish or more commonly blood-stained. The blood can be bright red, pink or dark brown in colour. If you do notice the mucus plug, but you have no contractions, this is an encouraging sign, but it is just that – a sign. It is best to just carry on as normal because for many women the show can come away days, or even a week or so before labour starts.

Women who contact their caregiver about having a show when nothing else is happening will often receive a polite acknowledge of their excitement and probably a response along the lines of “Call me again when something else happens.

Vomiting – feeling nauseated

Many women experience nausea and sometimes vomiting at some point in their labour process. Occasionally this can happen as part of pre-labour, but it is more common during the active 1st stage of labour and transition.

RELATED: How to deal with incontinence during pregnancy and beyond

Some women vomit during labour. Source: iStock.

RELATED: They said it was braxton hicks – it was labour

If you do vomit, don’t stop drinking, as sips of fluid will still be absorbed between the vomits. Try to eat and drink as much as you can tolerate, but don’t force feed yourself. Even if you have water and light snacks, like soup, yoghurt, fruit, toast or muesli bars, this will help you keep energized and hydrated. Some women water down pear or apple juice if full-strength juice is too sweet. You should probably avoid acidic juices like pineapple and orange, as they may bring on heartburn (and it tastes terrible vomiting up orange juice!)

Many women prefer to suck on ice, flavoured ice blocks (ice cubes made from pear/apple juice are great), hard lollies such as barley sugar or butterscotch (sweets or candy if you’re not Australian) or hard-boiled lollies on a stick, which can be handy to put in and out of your mouth between the contractions. Spitting out a lolly to have a contraction can leave your partner or support person as a one-handed masseur! Soft jubes, glucose jelly babies or snakes can also be good.

NOTE: If you are continuously vomiting and unable to keep anything down you should contact your caregiver. You may be able to have an injection or medicated suppository to help stop the vomiting for a few hours and allow you to re-hydrate. You can read more in vomiting during labour.

Some women find that sports drinks or Labourade are helpful for energy and hydration. You can also freeze these to suck as ice blocks during the labour.

Labourade recipe

  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/3 cup of lemon juice
  • 1 calcium tablet and 1 magnesium tablet – rushed
  • Mix and add to 1 litre of cool water

This article was originally published on 22 July, 2015 and was updated on 26 July, 2021.

Birth Diaries: ‘I Thought I Was Sick With A Bug – Hours Later I Gave Birth In An Ambulance’

In HuffPost Birth Diaries we hear the extraordinary stories of the everyday miracle of birth. This week, Nicola Emmett shares her story. If you’d like to share yours, email [email protected]

It was Easter weekend this year when I went into labour – that really beautiful, hot weekend. At 40 weeks pregnant, I had been getting impatient. My son and husband were out playing in the garden and I was stuck in bed, feeling sick. I threw up and had diarrhoea from around 10am in the morning. I didn’t feel like this during my first labour, so assumed it was a bug. I was in and out of the bathroom – and in and out of sleep – all while the beautiful sun was blazing outside.

When I rang the maternity triage and described how I felt, they agreed it could well be a bug. So I stuck with it at home. But at 4pm, on my way back to the toilet, my waters broke and the contractions started.

Despite being over 35 for this second pregnancy, I’d still been considered low-risk. I’d had a bit of nausea, sure, but I never ended up throwing up. In fact, I’d felt so normal during the second trimester, I basically forgot I was pregnant.

Having already been through one birth, I’d wanted to get in the right headspace again this time. I bought the Yes Mum book, which gives hypnobirthing tips, and my friend passed on her hypnobirthing MP3s, too. They definitely helped me stay positive during the pregnancy.

And that day, as I managed to get in the shower, back out, into my dressing gown, and into the spare room, they helped too. The hypnobirthing MP3s stopped me getting into a panic – they remind you it’s actually an exciting moment, and it’s not going to be much longer until you meet your baby.

Exciting, not agonising. That’s what I was trying to focus on. I shouted down to my husband and asked him to call my mum – to let her know things were happening – then to call the midwife. He forgot the latter, not realising how far along I actually was. He was running around doing God knows what and I remember letting out an almighty roar in my room, to which he ran upstairs.

I didn’t have the words to say to him that I couldn’t get in the car and this baby was coming. I just said: “Ambulance!” He went pale and looked panicked.

He called the midwife – by this point my contractions had got really fast, really quick. She arrived around 5.30pm, then called for a second midwife because she thought I was going to deliver at home. But when they couldn’t get a good read on the baby’s heartbeat, they called an ambulance.

I had to work a lot harder to stay relaxed this time around because it was all happening so quickly. When the ambulance arrived, I was determined to get inside pronto (clue: it’s where the gas and air was!). A kind paramedic walked backwards with me down the stairs, so I could get down holding his arms.

As soon as I got in, we started flying down the A-road. It was such a beautiful weekend, there was no traffic on the roads whatsoever. But I could just tell the midwife knew I wasn’t going to make it. I heard her saying: “he’s right there.” She never even told me to “push”. She just said to do what my body needed to do.

That really helped. “He’s coming,” I said, a few minutes later. The driver pulled over into what I think was a bus stop. I felt my son crown and after that, it was like he just slipped out. It was so calm. I remember his bright pink face, his loud cry. I just knew he’d be alright. My husband cut the cord in the ambulance and put him on my chest – and he did a massive wee all over me! But you know, in those moments, you just don’t care. I just remember feeling sorry for the paramedics that they were going to have to clean all that up.

The hospital was only minutes away and it was wonderful arriving into a delivery ward with my baby on my chest. The community midwives stayed with me while I delivered the placenta and did all the checks on my baby. We stayed overnight and came home the next day. It was quick, but such a positive experience.

My birth advice?

Get on the phone sooner rather than later if you’re in labour. Don’t view it as a nuisance to someone! And try and enjoy the birth – you’re a superhuman!

Vomiting at 40 weeks.


…please can someone help me? I’m tired of second guessing my body.

I’m 40 weeks pregnant with baby number 2. Yesterday, I felt exhausted all day and spent much of it in bed. For about 10 minutes in the afternoon, I had a ‘funny turn’, I came over all hot and sickly and had to lie on top of the bed with the window wide open to cool down. I felt very full before I finished my tea, and went to bed around 10:30pm. At 3am, I woke up with moderate – severe period type pains and lower backache. I went to the toilet, and had a number 2, not diarrhoea, but definitely looser and more than usual. Feeling some relief, I went and sat downstairs to wait for the pains to subside, as I’ve had this happen a few times the past few nights. Around 4:30, the pains were far milder, and I decided to head back to bed to try and sleep.

As I walked past the bathroom, I suddenly thought, ‘I’m going to be sick’. I ran to the toilet and was violently sick, and brought all my previous meal up. Once I was sure it was over, I popped back down to call the delivery suite for advice, as this is all totally alien to me – with my DD, I never had so much as a twinge, and labour was very obvious when it began. A very nice midwife listened to what I told her, and said it does sound as though my body is gearing up for labour (although it could be a bug). She advised rest and to keep up food and fluids as much as possible. She asked if I had any vaginal loss and I replied I’ve been having a clumpy mucous discharge, not pinky or red, just ‘snotty’ (sorry!) and she thought it likely I’m starting to lose my plug. She also said to call back if contractions start and become regular.

I went back to bed, woke to be sick again at around 5:30. Then went back to sleep again and woke at 8am feeling far more human but still very nauseous. The pains had gone. A relative took DD for the morning so I could rest and I slept another 4 hours straight. I haven’t managed to eat much at all, I’m taking sips of water and lucozade as it’s all I feel I can stomach, along with the odd slice of toast and piece of chocolate. DH is home now, but back to work very early tomorrow. I’m unsure whether or not to plan for a relative to take care of DD if possible tomorrow. I’m fed up as I can’t do anything or go anywhere for distraction as I just feel ill and ‘in limbo’.

I just want to know for sure what’s going on with my body but no one seems to know. Thank you in advance for any advice/ ideas.

Morning Sickness with Pregnancy: Causes, Treatment & Prevention


What is morning sickness?

Morning sickness, also called nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, is a common condition. It occurs in about 70% of pregnancies and usually starts around 6 weeks of pregnancy and lasts for weeks or months. Symptoms usually improve during the second trimester (weeks 13 to 27; the middle 3 months of pregnancy). In a few women, however, morning sickness occurs throughout their pregnancy.

Despite its name, “morning” sickness can happen at any time of the day.

Can morning sickness become severe?

Yes. Most women who experience morning sickness usually feel nauseous for a short time each day and may vomit once or twice. In more severe cases of morning sickness, nausea can last several hours each day and vomiting occurs more frequently. This most severe type of nausea and vomiting, which occurs in up to 3% of pregnant women, is called hyperemesis gravidarum.

Symptoms and Causes

What causes morning sickness?

The cause of morning sickness is not totally known. It may be caused by low blood sugar or the rise in pregnancy hormones, such as human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) or estrogen. Morning sickness may be worsened by stress, being overtired, eating certain foods, or having sensitivity to motion (motion sickness).

What are the symptoms of severe morning sickness (hyperemesis gravidarum)?

Symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum include:

  • Vomiting more than 3 times a day.
  • Becoming severely dehydrated (signs of which include little-to-no urine production, dark-colored urine, dizziness with standing).
  • Losing 5 or more pounds.

Women with severe morning sickness may need to be admitted to the hospital to receive IV fluids to restore hydration and medications to relieve nausea.

Management and Treatment

What can I do to feel better if I have morning sickness?

There are a few things you can do to feel better. These include:

  • Eat a few crackers or toast in the morning to help settle your stomach. Keep a few crackers at bedside and eat a couple before getting up.
  • Eat 5 or 6 small meals a day instead of 3 large meals.
  • Avoid spicy and fatty foods. Eat bland foods such as bananas, rice, dry toast, plain baked potato, gelatin, broth, eggs, tofu, or applesauce.
  • Eat healthy snacks between meals, such as yogurt, peanut butter on apple slices or celery, cheese, milk, or nuts.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, throughout the day.
  • Take your prenatal vitamins with a snack. If your prenatal vitamin contains iron, try taking it at bedtime. Talk with your doctor about other vitamin options.
  • Avoid odors, flickering lights, other situations that bother you and trigger your nausea.
  • Make tea with real grated ginger or try ginger candies.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Keep rooms well ventilated, turn on a fan, or go outside from time to time to get some fresh air.
  • Smell fresh-smelling, pleasant scents such as lemon, orange, or mint.

Other methods may help reduce nausea. Talk with your healthcare provider before trying these:

  • Acupressure wrist band. These bands apply pressure to certain points on the wrist.
  • Acupuncture. In this treatment method, thin needles are put into the skin.

Do not use marijuana to treat morning sickness! It has not been shown to be safe for your baby during pregnancy.

What medications are available to treat morning sickness?

Your healthcare provider may recommend taking vitamin B6 (also called pyridoxine) and doxylamine. Doxylamine is also used as a sleep aid and to treat hay fever or other allergies. Both products are available over-the-counter and don’t need a prescription. However, there is a pill that contains the combination of these 2 products. It is available by prescription only and is known by the trade name Diclegis®. Unlike the separate over-the-counter products, Diclegis® is a slow-release single pill. This may be more convenient or helpful for women who have trouble (for example, have a gag reflex) taking many pills per day.

Medications to prevent nausea (also called antiemetics) can also be prescribed. If these drugs don’t help, other drug classes can be tried including antihistamines and anticholinergics. You and your healthcare provider will decide which medications work best for you.

Does morning sickness harm my baby?

Mild to moderate nausea and vomiting of pregnancy usually is not harmful to you or your baby. However, it can become a problem if you can’t keep food or liquid down, become dehydrated, and lose weight. Unmanaged severe nausea and vomiting can prevent you from getting the nutrition you need and affect the weight of your baby at birth.


Are some women more at risk for developing severe morning sickness?

Yes. The risk for severe morning sickness is increased if a woman:

  • Is pregnant with more than 1 baby – twins, triplets, or more.
  • Has a personal history of severe morning sickness with a previous pregnancy and/or has a mother or sister who had a history of severe morning sickness with a pregnancy.
  • Is pregnant with a girl.
  • Has a history of motion sickness.
  • Has a history of migraines.
  • Is overweight.
  • Has a condition called trophoblastic disease, which leads to abnormal cell growth in the womb (uterus).

Living With

When do I need to call my doctor?

Do not wait until vomiting becomes severe to call your doctor. Seeking care for morning sickness early in pregnancy can help prevent it from becoming more severe. Severe vomiting is not a normal aspect of pregnancy and requires medical care or even hospitalization.

Another reason to investigate severe nausea and vomiting is that it may be a symptom of other medical conditions including ulcers, reflux (heartburn), food-related illnesses, thyroid disease, gallbladder disease, or inflammation of the appendix, stomach, pancreas, or liver.

Call your doctor right away if you:

  • Have nausea that lasts all day long and keeps you from eating and drinking.
  • Vomit 3 or more times a day.
  • Have vomit that is brown in color or has blood in it.
  • Lose weight.
  • Feel extremely tired or confused.
  • Feel dizzy or have fainted.
  • Have a fast heart beat.
  • Produce little to no urine.

10 Early Signs of Labor That Tell You the Baby Is Coming

The early signs of labor are different for everyone. It would be great if there were hard and fast signs your body is getting ready for labor, how long you have to get to the hospital, and whether or not your partner is experiencing early signs of labor. But human beings, pregnancies, and symptoms before labor begins can vary significantly. The following 10 signs of labor apply to a vast majority of childbirths, but they may not represent yours. It’s good to know the difference between back labor and contractions and whether your new nausea, diarrhea, or lack of appetite could be signs your body is getting ready for labor. But it’s always best to check with your doctor for advice. Listed below are 10 of the most important signs of labor approaching to look out for.

1. Shivering Is a Sign of Labor

If it’s a sultry, hot summer day and your wife is piling on the layers like you’re headed for the ski lodge, it could be an indication of labor. “The change in body temperature is caused by labor hormones,” says Cheryl K. Baker, founder of Los Angeles Birth Partners, a certified childbirth educator and a doula who has delivered more than 1,000 babies.

2. No Appetite Is a Sign of Labor

Labor pains have a way of making the prospect of food less appealing. You can also expect that your wife may feel nauseous and thirsty as labor begins. You can help with both of these symptoms by offering her natural ginger chews to ease the stomach upset and a cup of ice chips to suck on as labor progresses.

3. A Feeling of Lightness Is a Sign of Labor

After nine months of carrying a bowling ball around in her stomach, your wife may feel the surprisingly pleasant sensation of lightness as childbirth draws near. This is actually the experience of the baby “dropping,” according to the American Pregnancy Association. This means that the baby has moved deeper down into the pelvis, relieving the pressure on the diaphragm that causes discomfort for so many women. On the other hand, the baby can now increase pressure on her bladder, meaning more nighttime trips to the bathroom in the final days.

4. Lower Back Pain Is a Sign of Labor

Although lower back pain could be a sign of many things, including the sheer act of lugging around extra weight all day, many people experience lower back pain and menstrual-like cramping in the early stages of labor. This in and of itself shouldn’t send you to the hospital, but it is a warning that the fun may be about to start.

5. Increasing Braxton-Hicks Contractions Are Signs of Labor

Although Braxton-Hicks contractions are commonly thought of as a sign of false labor, these intermittent, fluttering, usually painless sensations become more frequent and noticeable in the early stages of labor. Note: This doesn’t mean your wife is about to deliver. Only that she’s getting closer. She could still be hours, or days, away.

6. Longer, More Regular Contractions Are Signs of Labor

The clearest sign that labor is near comes from contractions that are getting progressively longer, more regular, and closer together. “You’re looking for surges that come four or five minutes apart, that last several minutes,” Baker says.

7. Stronger Labor Pain Is a Sign of Labor

One way to distinguish between true and false labor signs are contractions so strong that your wife cannot walk or talk through them. “Every labor is unique,” Baker says. “But in general, contractions get progressively more and more intense, requiring a woman’s complete attention as they happen.”

8. Bleeding and Mucus Are Signs of Labor

This sounds dramatic, but actually, all it means is that the cervical plug has come loose, and there will be visible bleeding and mucus in your wife’s underwear. It’s normal. What’s not normal: “Any fluid that is brown or greenish in color could indicate that the baby is having a tough time,” Baker says. Another sign of labor in distress: Passing large blood clots. If this happens, see your doc right away.

9. Water Breaking Is a (Damn Obvious) Sign of Labor

This classic, tell-tale sign of labor can appear as a big gush, or it can happen in a slow, light stream. Either way, the amniotic sac surrounding the baby has broken, and your kid is on the way. Normally, contractions begin before the water breaks. If that’s not the case, it’s important to head to the hospital anyway, since the “seal” around your baby is broken, raising the risk of infection.

10. Dilation Is a Sign of Labor (That Your Doctor Will See)

The classic countdown to the arrival of your new baby comes from dilation, a measurement of the cervix opening. This is as close as you’ll get to concrete real-time info on when childbirth is going to happen. But unfortunately, the only one who can accurately measure it is your doctor. Ten centimeters is considered fully dilated, signaling that your baby is on its way.

Oops! Please try again.

Thanks for subscribing!

How will I know when labour has started?

If your pregnancy is considered high risk or you are less than 37 weeks pregnant, contact your maternity unit if you think labour has started or if there is anything you’re worried about.

Every woman’s experience of labour is different. But there are several signs that labour may be starting. You may experience:

  • a ‘show’, which is when the mucus plug from your cervix comes away – it appears as a pink-brown jelly-like blob or in pieces
  • pains in your tummy that may feel like strong period pains – these these are the start of contractions
  • lower back pain
  • an urge to go to the toilet – this is caused by your baby’s head pressing on your bowel.

Your waters may also break or you might start feeling contractions. These will be different from the practice Braxton Hicks contractions that you may already have had. They feel stronger, deeper and more painful.

Call your midwife, birth centre or hospital labour ward and tell them what’s happening. The start of labour is called the latent stage and can last hours or, for some women, days. If you are more than 37 weeks with an uncomplicated pregnancy, you’ll probably be advised to stay at home until your labour is ‘established’. This is when your cervix opens (dilates) to at least 4cm and your contractions become stronger and more regular.

Once labour gets going, your contractions will become more regular and won’t go away. Call your midwife, birth centre or hospital labour ward when you are having a contraction every 5 minutes that last 30–60 seconds. If you have chosen a home birth, the midwife will come to you.

If this is not your first baby, or you are likely to have a quick labour, your midwife may advise you to call earlier than this.

Call the labour ward or your midwife If you’re still not sure whether you’re in labour. They are used to dealing with false alerts so don’t worry about wasting anyone’s time.

Wondering what to expect from those first twinges? Find out what contractions really feel like.

90,000 40 weeks of gestation: sensations, weight and development of the fetus

And here you are – ready to give birth at any moment! It’s not entirely clear what causes labor to begin, but one theory is that the baby’s body produces a special protein that signals the start of labor.

You are here, you did it. Congratulations on reaching Week 40! Perhaps you are terribly tired of this whole pregnancy story, and you just want it to end.You don’t look and feel very well, and your energy levels have dropped significantly. You find it difficult to focus on something and make plans. It seems like your life has been paused. You probably thought many times that everything would end earlier, but take this period as your personal achievement.

Where is the bucket and mop?

Not all women believe that the 40th week of pregnancy is a reason for a well-deserved rest. Some are now thoroughly washing their homes and looking for dirt in every nook and cranny.No room escapes this, and sterile cleanliness is becoming the number one priority. Your loved one may look at you with genuine surprise, but at a later date, the expectant mother often starts nesting, and this phenomenon is based on the desire to organize a clean, safe environment for her baby.

Physical changes at 40 weeks gestation

  • Training contractions occur more frequently this week, and they promote the flow of oxygenated blood to the uterus and baby. They can seem quite ferocious at times, but if they’re not painful or regular, don’t worry. Taking a warm shower or changing your posture will usually help you deal with them.

  • If the baby sank into the pelvis, the shape of your body will change – the belly will drop too and look like a ripe pear. This means that it will become easier for you to breathe, but the pressure on the bladder will increase, and you will have to live somewhere near the toilet all the time. Just believe it won’t be long and it will be over soon.

  • This week you will feel a heaviness in your pelvis. If you have given birth before, it will seem to you that the baby is holding almost nothing, especially when you are standing. Now the pelvic muscles are working at maximum, supporting the unusually large weight of the uterus, and, like an overly stretched sling, sag at critical points. Do them a favor and don’t spend a lot of time on your feet – sit down when you can. Choose a comfortable chair, put a glass of water next to it, grab a good book and phone.You don’t need to explain anything to anyone when you are 40 weeks pregnant.

  • The skin on the abdomen is as tight as a drum. The belly button looks like it has been turned inside out, and the stretch marks are bright red or purple. If you try to join your hands under your belly, it is not a fact that you will succeed. You do not believe that he is able to increase even more, but if the baby is not born on time, this is quite possible.

  • If fluid suddenly starts flowing from your vagina, if you have painful contractions about every 15 minutes, if you have persistent pain in your lower back, contact your doctor.These may be early signs of labor.

Emotional changes at 40 weeks gestation

  • You are having complex feelings. You’ve been waiting for this week for so long, but nothing seems to be happening. Relatives and friends call you, and all with the same question, to which you do not have an answer yet. It will be easier if you ask them not to bother you, but promise to call yourself when the baby finally deigns to be born.

  • You feel a mixture of anticipation and excitement, anxiety and impatience. This week is full of emotions that are only heightened by the realization that you have no control over the situation. If you are worried about pain during labor, learn about the available pain relief methods. Talk to your doctor about anesthesia and document the choices in your birthing plan.

What happens to the baby this week of pregnancy

  • You feel that it is time to end this all, but the child may have their own opinion about the time of eviction.He is cramped in his mother’s womb, but very comfortable. Your baby is so perfectly built that after birth you will wonder how he even fit inside you. And like this: in the first days of life, the newborn will tend to curl up in the same way as it did during the long weeks of pregnancy.

  • The doctor will ask you how active the baby’s movements are, and if you have noticed any changes in his behavior. He may even ask you to keep a diary of the activity of the crumbs.You may need to do a CTG (cardiotocography) this week to monitor your baby’s heart rate and uterine muscle activity. This study will provide important information for assessing the child’s condition.

Tips 40 weeks

  • Pack your bag at the hospital, don’t leave it until the last minute. If you are planning a natural birth, you will most likely be in the hospital for no more than three days, so do not bring too many things with you.Most women wear normal daytime clothes at the hospital, rather than wearing “nighties”. If you plan to breastfeed, remember to bring a comfortable breastfeeding top.

  • If you are not going to breastfeed, you will most likely need to take infant formula and feeding devices to the hospital. Ask the hospital in advance what they have to offer in terms of washing and sterilizing bottles and nipples.

  • Perhaps you are already tired of being pregnant and want to speed up the process.Talk to your doctor about stimulating labor, but remember that there are many factors to consider when making your decision. Keep in mind that stimulated labor often requires additional methods of delivery.

  • If you were scheduled to have a cesarean section, chances are it has already happened in the last week.

Have you decided to stay until the 41st week of pregnancy?

90,000 Clear signs of the onset of labor at 40 weeks of gestation | Life Capsule

The fourth week of the tenth obstetric month for most pregnant women will be the last week of a long wait. The 40th week of pregnancy is the period when the birth should already take place. However, each pregnancy is individual, some babies are “in no hurry” to make their mother happy with their first cry, but still, there is not long to wait.

The 40th week of pregnancy is likely to be the last week of gestation. You and your baby have come a long and hard way, and now everything is prepared for the little man to finally be born. Harbingers of childbirth at 40 weeks of gestation are usually already pronounced, and you can expect the process to start literally every minute.


Pregnancy 40 weeks is the final stage of gestation. During this period, a woman has a very difficult time. Her stomach periodically stiffens, pulls the lower back, soreness in the perineal region can be felt. All this is due to the fact that the load on the body is maximum, a huge pregnant belly not only interferes with movement, but also creates other inconveniences:

  • increases the load on the spine, it is because of this that women often have lower back pain during this period;
  • increases the load on the urinary system, the kidneys are working to the limit, and the bladder is now strongly compressed by the large uterus;
  • Legs often swell;
  • Sleep is often disturbed, but this symptom is associated not with physical ailment, but with psychological discomfort, since the pregnant woman is increasingly haunted by anxious thoughts about how the birth will take place;
  • At the fortieth week, existing chronic diseases are often exacerbated, hemorrhoids may appear.

How’s the baby doing?

Your baby at 40 weeks of gestation is also experiencing a lot of discomfort. During this period, it is already so large that it occupies the entire space of the uterus. In addition, due to the natural aging of the placenta, the fetus begins to experience a deficiency of the substances it needs at 40 weeks of gestation.

The kid moves a little during this period, because he simply has nowhere to turn around. But, nevertheless, tremors should appear regularly. A complete lack of activity or the fact that the baby moves too much are signs of trouble.Perhaps the fetus is suffering from hypoxia and needs help.

Therefore, if the mother notices that the baby is behaving unusual, it is necessary to seek medical help. Doctors will do CTG, doppler ultrasonography to find out if there are any threats. If complications are found, treatment will be prescribed or a decision will be made on the need to stimulate labor.

During the described period, the baby should weigh more than 3 kilograms. However, this indicator is individual.The baby’s body has almost completely got rid of the original cannon (languto). The skin has become smooth, has acquired a pink tint.


The 40th week is the very end of pregnancy , so you should expect childbirth from day to day. But in order not to be frightened in vain, it is worth learning to distinguish between precursors and signs of incipient labor.


At 40 weeks of gestation, the harbingers of childbirth in primiparous manifest the same symptoms as before.These are:

  • abdominal prolapse, the baby is now located very low, his head is at the pelvic ring;
  • training contractions, during which the stomach stiffens, but the stomach should not hurt much. Most women describe the nature of the pain as pulling but not intense;
  • Separation of the mucus plug, which until the last moment closed the entrance to the cervix. This cork looks like a small piece of white or slightly yellowish mucus; it may contain blood in the form of streaks.

Precursors of childbirth in multiparous manifest themselves in a similar way, but they may have the signs described above later, literally 1-2 before the start of the birth process.

And what if there are no precursors of childbirth at the 40th week of pregnancy? The main thing is not to panic! As already mentioned, each pregnancy is individual, childbirth may occur a little later – at 41 or even at 42 weeks. If you regularly visit a doctor and undergo all examinations, then there is no reason for panic. Follow your doctor’s recommendations!

Sometimes doctors advise physical activity to activate labor. Of course, there is no need to rush to move furniture, but leisurely walks in the fresh air will be very useful.

At 40 weeks of gestation, a second birth can generally occur without any precursors. After all, this process is no longer a novelty for the body, therefore preparation begins in just a few hours.

When should labor be stimulated?

Of course, every woman would like to wait for the natural onset of labor, however, sometimes situations arise when doctors consider it necessary to stimulate labor by introducing special drugs.

Most often, they resort to stimulation:

  • if, after the discharge of amniotic fluid, natural childbirth does not occur within a few hours or labor activity is too weak;
  • with the development of gestosis in the mother, this condition threatens the life of the woman and the baby, and childbirth is the only way to eliminate the symptoms of gestosis;
  • little or polyhydramnios, these conditions threaten the development of hypoxia in a child.


Labor begins with the onset of contractions.This is usually the first sign of the onset of labor. At first, contractions can be mistaken for training, but then you will notice that they appear regularly. In addition, water may drain.

If you notice these symptoms in yourself, you should go to the maternity hospital. Be prepared for the contractions to intensify. During this period, the cervix dilates.

This is followed by a period of attempts, during which the child moves along the birth canal. During attempts, a woman needs to listen carefully to the doctor and follow his instructions.This will help the baby to be born.

The duration of labor may vary. More often than not, first births last longer than repeat births.

Possible problems

Let’s figure out what complaints and problems can arise in the fortieth week. During pregnancy, a woman needs to be careful about her well-being, but special attention is required in the later stages.


A very important point is the discharge during pregnancy, so you need to monitor their nature all the time.Normal discharge at 40 weeks of gestation:

  • mucous membranes, slightly more abundant than before, without a pungent odor;
  • Spotting at 40 weeks of gestation can be considered normal, provided that the blood is contained in the mucus in the form of streaks or pinpoint blotches. If you notice that a large piece of mucus with bloody streaks has come out, then the mucous plug has come off.

Pathological discharge:

  • heterogeneous, containing white grains, accompanied by itching.These are the symptoms of thrush, which is dangerous for the baby;
  • green-yellow discharge resembling pus, having an unpleasant odor is a sign of a bacterial infection, during this period they are very dangerous for the baby;
  • Large amount of watery discharge. It was the amniotic fluid that began to leak, when this sign appears, you need to go to the maternity hospital;
  • Brown discharge at 40 weeks gestation can be a sign of partial placental abruption, which is very dangerous.

If it is the 40th week of pregnancy, brown discharge is not always a pathological sign.Beige spotting may appear after a gynecological examination on a chair.

  • bleeding is the most dangerous sign, as it can talk about complete placental abruption. The woman and the baby need emergency medical attention.


The fact that the lower abdomen hurts at the 40th week of pregnancy is not surprising. But you need to learn how to correctly assess the nature of pain. Perhaps your stomach is simply pulling due to training contractions or the pressure exerted on the cervix by the fetus.But lower abdominal pain can be a sign of a serious complication.

For example, the lower abdomen pulls quite strongly during placental abruption, and this, as already mentioned, is a very serious complication. Therefore, if at any stage of pregnancy the stomach hurts, this symptom cannot be ignored.

Not only the stomach, but also the back can ache and ache during pregnancy. There are many reasons for the appearance of aching pains and covering the lower spine. The following can cause discomfort in this place:

  • Load on the spine.The presence of a large abdomen causes a shift in the center of gravity, and this cannot but affect the condition of the spine.
  • Training and true fights. Pain from contractions often radiates to the lower back.
  • Kidney problems. During this period, the kidneys work with great stress, so various diseases may appear.


If a pregnant woman has swelling of the legs in the evening, but after rest, the swelling goes away, then you should not worry.At this time, this is the norm. But severe edema is a sign of preeclampsia. In this case, edema is accompanied by an increase in blood pressure.

The 40th week of pregnancy is the very end of the gestation period .

With a high degree of probability, we can say that the birth of a child will occur from day to day. Therefore, you need to be ready to go to the maternity hospital at any time. Make sure that the necessary things are pre-collected and packed, and the documents are at hand.And when signs of childbirth appear, do not hesitate to enter the hospital.

Popular articles:

Fetal hypoxia. Symptoms, signs, consequences

Pressure chamber – health without pills! Application during pregnancy

Barotherapy – how does it work?

there are no harbingers of contractions, the abdomen is stiff, nausea, active movement of the child, fetal weight

Published: 02.06.2017

Reading time: 2 min.

Number of reads: 6828

The 40th embryonic or 42nd obstetric week of pregnancy has gone. This is the end of the 10th month. Is your baby still in no hurry to be born? At this time, fear may already arise, because prolonged pregnancy can negatively affect the health of the mother and child.But it is not always the case. Remember that the gestational age is always calculated approximately, and due to late conception, it may be less by 1–2 weeks.

Contents: Hide

  1. Feelings of a woman in the 40th week
  2. Features of fetal development
  3. How to behave for a future mother

Feelings of a woman in the 40th week

A pregnant woman is still waiting to meet her son or daughter. Increasingly, she may have thoughts about how to provoke contractions and induce childbirth.During this period, the support of loved ones is especially important, because the fear of childbirth can increase due to a long wait. A sagging abdomen leads to painful sensations. Some women complain of varicose veins and hemorrhoids. Your belly skin may itch and your arms and legs may go numb. Swelling is possible. Expectant mothers celebrate the following predecessors of childbirth: training contractions, colostrum, frequent urge, slight weight loss, cork discharge.

Features of fetal development

The development of the fetus at this time has come to an end.All systems and organs fully perform their function. The weight of the baby can reach up to 3.6 kg, and the height is 50-53 cm. Many babies already have fingernails and hairs on their heads. Since the child almost completely occupies the uterus, he can no longer move much. But in the presence of stimuli such as loud noises or bright lights, a woman can feel jolts and movements. The baby is completely ready for life outside the womb.

How to behave for a future mother

The woman should make sure once again that she is fully prepared for the trip to the maternity hospital.Attend scheduled consultations and listen to your doctor’s recommendations. If the doctor insists on hospitalization, one should not refuse, because in most cases he does this for a reason. Learn breathing techniques during childbirth and read the relevant literature. Do not forget about proper nutrition, exclude heavy, starchy and spicy foods from the diet. Morally prepare loved ones for the appearance of the baby in the house. If this is the second birth, you should tell the older child how to behave with the younger brother or sister.

Harbingers of childbirth or how not to be late in the hospital

A pregnant woman needs to be attentive to the internal signals of her body, then she will definitely not miss the moment when it is time to go to the hospital for a quick meeting with her baby.

A smooth change in the hormonal profile occurs in the last days of pregnancy. The placenta is aging, the amount of progesterone produced decreases, and the amount of estrogen in a woman’s body increases. Progesterone was increased throughout pregnancy, it ensured the preservation of pregnancy, and the increase in estrogen was aimed at preparing for childbirth.When the maximum amount of estrogen in the blood is reached, the receptors in the brain send a signal, and labor begins. Under the influence of a change in hormones in the body, changes occur that prepare a woman for the birth of a child. These changes are called the harbingers of childbirth. Obstetricians call this preparatory period. The purpose of this period is to ensure a gentle progression of labor through the birth canal. According to medical data, the process begins at 38-39 weeks of pregnancy.In some women, the harbingers of childbirth appear a couple of days before childbirth.

Nine harbingers of childbirth

1. Abdominal prolapse. When the baby is positioned with its head down, by the end of pregnancy, it sinks even lower. As doctors say, the head is now inserted into the small pelvis. The upper part of the uterus also descends, a woman can immediately feel how it becomes easier for her to breathe. The skin on the abdomen is stretched, a protrusion of the navel appears.

2. Increase in the amount of discharge from the genital tract.This is due to the fact that the lower part of the fetal bladder exfoliates from the walls of the uterus.

3. Changes in the cervix. The woman herself cannot feel these changes. But with a vaginal examination, the doctor will see that the cervix is ​​opening quite strongly from the side where the baby’s head is adjacent. And its narrow part is 2 cm. In the last days before childbirth, a woman is not recommended to take a bath due to the fact that the membranes are very close and accessible for infections.Better to confine yourself to a shower.

4. In the last days of pregnancy, the weight drops sharply by 1-1.5 kg. You can pay attention to how the swelling went away.

5. Isolation of the mucous plug. A mucous plug is a collection of colorless mucus, sometimes streaks of blood are present there. It is worth distinguishing a mucous plug from profuse watery and bloody discharge – this can be dangerous.

6. Changes in gait and posture. As a result of the prolapse of the uterus, there is a slight shift in the center of gravity.Duck gait is observed in women.

7. The frequency of urination and loose stools increases. This is due to the compression of the pelvic organs by the fetal bladder. Experts believe that loose stools are observed due to the high content of estrogen.

8. Strengthening training fights. These contractions are painless, irregular, and varying in duration. The muscles of the uterus are preparing for childbirth.

9. A woman feels discomfort in the back and lower abdomen.The pain is aching, pulling.

Harbingers of childbirth may differ in primiparous and multiparous.

Harbingers of childbirth during the first pregnancy

Pregnant women who are inexperienced often accept the precursors of childbirth as a discomfort. For those who are going to give birth for the first time, the harbingers of childbirth are smoother. They can start a week or two before delivery, so this is a very conditional guideline.

It is difficult for primiparous women to distinguish real contractions from false ones.Sometimes women needlessly worry, mistaking a training fight for a real one. And sometimes the harbingers of childbirth go unnoticed.

Harbingers of childbirth with repeated pregnancies

The cervix of women who have given birth has a wider lumen, so it reacts faster to hormonal changes. Harbingers of childbirth begin early and are very pronounced.

The mucous plug in such women is more voluminous. Training contractions appear earlier, and the woman can clearly track them.With the second and subsequent births, the time between precursors and births is reduced. And the repeated births themselves occur more rapidly.

Harbingers appear one day before childbirth. In these women, abdominal prolapse does not occur two weeks before childbirth, but immediately before childbirth.

Listen to how you feel, and you can feel when it’s time to pack your bags for the hospital and get ready for your baby.

90,000 Diarrhea at the 39th week of pregnancy: possible causes and recommendations

The closer the time of birth, the more a woman listens to her own body.And he does the right thing. After all, all the mechanisms that take place during pregnancy, as the birth approaches, prepare favorable conditions for the birth of a child. The first signs of the delivery process are pulling severe pains, false contractions, discharge. Together with them, women have diarrhea at the 39th week of pregnancy, do I need to worry about this or is this the norm?

Characteristic features of the 39th week

During this period, the baby is already fully developed and ready for birth, which means that the mother’s body begins to prepare for the birth process.A woman’s uterus is toning, and this is accompanied by contractions, even if they are short-lived and rare, but these are still harbingers of childbirth. You don’t need to run to the hospital yet, but it’s time to prepare mentally and talk with the baby. In addition to more frequent contractions, a bubble around the baby may burst, resulting in a large amount of water-like discharge.

Appetite may increase, but the weight, on the contrary, will gradually decrease. Lowering of the abdomen is also noticed. This means that the child sinks lower and is at the level of the pelvis.It will become easier to breathe, the fetus now does not press on the diaphragm. Edema often appears, so you cannot stay in one position for a long time, eat salty foods and drink a lot.

Is diarrhea at 39 weeks pregnant also completely normal, or is it a deviation? Let’s deal with this issue.

Is diarrhea normal or pathological?

If a woman gives birth for the first time, then diarrhea occurs during pregnancy at 38-39 weeks, the second and subsequent times the phenomenon may occur immediately before childbirth.In parallel, frequent urination may appear. All this is completely normal, just the body prepares for the process of childbirth and, in order to avoid unpleasant situations in the process, “prepares” the expectant mother in advance. Difficulty falling asleep at night. These are, of course, uncomfortable sensations, but you should not be afraid of them.

It is worth noting that nausea also appears. Diarrhea and nausea at the 39th week of pregnancy are a kind of natural cleansing of the body. During this period, appetite may disappear, or, on the contrary, may increase.Taste preferences are changing.

Positive aspects of the phenomenon

Before childbirth, the woman’s stool gradually softens, in some cases (in the presence of pathologies, of course) there may be constipation, but this is more the exception than the rule. The appearance of diarrhea at the 39th week of pregnancy is a positive factor for mother and baby. Empty intestines will not interfere with the baby, and it will be completely patented.

The occurrence of diarrhea before childbirth does not directly cause dehydration, and there is no large loss of fluid.Stool masses soften to the state of gruel. Stool regularity – up to 5 times a day. The duration of diarrhea in the last weeks of pregnancy is approximately 2-3 days. During this period, the intestines are completely cleansed. At the same time, there is no significant discomfort for the expectant mother.

Causes of diarrhea

As mentioned earlier, the normal course of diarrhea does not bring any harm to the woman and the child. The reasons for the development lie in the following:

  1. Cleansing the body before childbirth.The intestines should be emptied. Upon admission to the maternity hospital, a woman is given an enema for the purpose of cleansing, if this process occurs naturally, then the help of an enema is not needed. This is a more favorable outcome, because it was laid by nature.
  2. Infant bowel pressure. About 10 days before giving birth, the baby drops and stops pressing on the diaphragm – it becomes easier for the woman to breathe, but at the same time, the fetus presses on the intestines. It also provokes diarrhea at 39 weeks gestation.
  3. Change in hormonal levels.The peak of hormonal changes occurs when constant metamorphosis occurs in a woman’s body.

Symptoms of diarrhea

Diarrhea and vomiting at 39 weeks gestation are normal, but can also indicate abnormalities during pregnancy. Let’s define the symptoms of diarrhea that occurs immediately before childbirth. They differ in that, in parallel with them, other symptoms are noted that speak of an impending birth:

  1. Pulling abdominal pains (especially the lower abdomen suffers)
  2. Long-term discomfort in the lumbar region, which becomes even stronger after lowering the baby.
  3. Increased gas formation, to which, by the way, the uterus is very sensitive. She can react to this phenomenon and provoke false contractions.
  4. Diarrhea and vomiting begin to appear at 39 weeks of gestation. These symptoms usually appear in the morning. The woman recalls the feeling of toxicosis that manifested itself at the beginning of pregnancy.
  5. Light chills and general malaise that worries the woman, she gets even more tired, frequent dizziness and weakness appear throughout the body.
  6. An increased temperature may be noticed (it should not be higher than 37.5 degrees). If it bothers you, it is better to contact the gynecologist who is leading the pregnancy.
  7. Headaches also indicate the upcoming childbirth, blood pressure may increase or decrease – in a word, the body is preparing for childbirth.

Many women experience diarrhea and vomiting at the 39th week of pregnancy. What to do in this case? Doctors say that nothing needs to be done, rest even more, try not to be nervous, walk more and enjoy the last days of pregnancy.These are normal symptoms and should not be treated.

What is the danger?

Poisoning, infection of a child with some kind of infection or pregnancy failure in the last weeks are no longer threatened. However, diarrhea at 39-40 weeks of gestation can lead to dehydration, which is the only and dangerous consequence of diarrhea. Symptoms of dehydration include:

  1. Dry mouth and other mucous membranes.
  2. Constant thirst and need for plenty of fluids.
  3. Temperature too high. This is not the one that fluctuates to 37.3-37.5. Temperatures above these levels are alarming.
  4. Constant headache that does not subside, it is difficult to relieve it, it is “pounding”.
  5. Weakness and desire to sleep, increased fatigue.

All these symptoms apply to the body’s natural preparation for childbirth. A distinctive feature is that with dehydration, all symptoms are more acute and pronounced.If something starts to bother a woman seriously, it is better to go to the hospital for qualified help in order to avoid negative consequences.


In order for diarrhea not to lead to dehydration, you need to adhere to some recommendations developed by doctors:

  1. If there are signs of poisoning, it is better to drink “Activated Carbon” or “Smecta”, they will eliminate all symptoms and minimize the consequences unpleasant phenomenon.
  2. In the last weeks of pregnancy, it is better to stick to a diet that is as follows.It is advisable to exclude carbonated drinks, flour, fatty foods, spicy, salty or fried from the diet. It is also advisable to remove kefir, all types of juices, milk from the diet. In parallel with this, it is necessary to increase the amount of consumed rice porridge, tea without sugar, rusks (from white bread), as well as broths.
  3. If a woman understands that diarrhea is a sign of imminent labor, it is better to abstain from food altogether. It is recommended to drink more herbal teas or water.

What to do with vomiting

As noted earlier, vomiting may occur along with diarrhea.This is also a sign of large-scale changes in the body of the expectant mother. Recommendations for nausea and vomiting:

  1. Replenishment of lost fluid and useful elements. If possible, then you need to eat fruits with potassium: bananas, dried apricots, figs or persimmons. In addition, you should try to drink as much liquid as possible in order to restore water balance.
  2. Eat small meals and little. You should not eat all of those foods that are allowed before childbirth. The amount of food consumed should be moderate, and the food itself should be warm, but not hot.
  3. Bed rest and a state of rest are also extremely important for the expectant mother, because there is such an important moment ahead that will take a lot of energy.

“During pregnancy, I lost 20 kg – the doctors did not understand what was happening”

  • Vinicius Lemus
  • for the BBC Brazilian service

Photo author, Photo from personal archive

Photo caption,

Michelle with her husband at a celebration in honor of the unborn child

32-year-old Michelle Muñoz dreamed of becoming a mother – therefore, when she found out that she was expecting a child, her joy knew no bounds.However, the pregnancy was very difficult and turned into almost continuous suffering for the expectant mother.

She was constantly in pain, it was hard for her to breathe and move. She lay in bed all day in complete apathy. During her pregnancy, Michelle lost almost 20 kilograms in weight.

While trying to find the cause of her health problems, she consulted several doctors, but they all said that these were just side effects of a difficult pregnancy and that her condition was a consequence of depression and frequent nausea.

“Sometimes I suspected that things were more serious, but in the end I believed what the doctors were saying,” Michely recalls.

Usually during pregnancy, women gain weight – especially after the first three months. If the expectant mother has a healthy body mass index (BMI 18 to 25), she can gain an additional 12-16 kg.

If a pregnant woman is usually thin, she can add up to 18 kg. And if the expectant mother is overweight, then during pregnancy she will most likely be prescribed a strict diet; if it is observed, the weight can hardly change.

During the first trimester, women sometimes do indeed lose weight, as hormonal changes often cause some pregnant women to experience nausea and vomiting. However, even in the most severe cases, weight loss usually does not exceed 10% and ends by the end of the first three months.

Author of the photo, Photo from personal archive

Caption to photo,

This is how Michelle looked before pregnancy

Michelle’s son was born prematurely. She herself was so weak that she could not even hold him in her arms.

Just over a month later, she turned to another doctor, who finally diagnosed her with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a malignant disease of the lymphatic system.

“He said it was just a miracle that my son and I were still alive,” Michely recalls.

Severe pregnancy

Michelle and her husband, 39-year-old Jonatas Biasiu, have been trying to have a baby since the spring of 2016. It was not easy to do this – Michelle’s chances of getting pregnant were greatly undermined by two previous gynecological diseases.

She had to undergo two surgeries and four months of hormonal therapy – and finally, in October 2017, doctors informed her that she was pregnant.

“It was absolutely incredible. No words are enough to express the feeling of happiness that overwhelmed me,” says Michely.

However, due to previous illnesses, the pregnancy was difficult.

“From the very beginning I was overcome with nausea, which did not go away,” she recalls. “The doctor said that until the fourth month it was normal.But I literally couldn’t eat anything. Until the end of the first trimester, I gradually lost weight, but from the fourth month, weight loss only accelerated. “

As a result, health problems only worsened. She became short of breath, it became difficult for her to move, she was forced to stop teaching. According to the doctors, depression could be the reason.

“I was sent for examination to a cardiologist, endocrinologist, nutritionist and hematologist.I went for a re-examination every week. They took blood tests from me – and something was wrong with the results, but the doctors said that all this was due to pregnancy, “she says. after childbirth

“I was so weak. I lay in bed all day, fingering the rosary, and prayed to the Lord to give me strength, “says Michelle, a deeply religious Catholic.

The fact that she ate almost nothing worried her husband very much: solid food.But the doctors said that this was normal, and in the end she completely switched to liquid food.

The condition of the pregnant woman continued to deteriorate, but doctors still believed that this was a consequence of depression, nausea and other complications due to pregnancy.

“From the very beginning I turned to the best specialists in the region, but they did not find anything,” Micheli explains. “I was never sent for an additional examination, which would have shown that something was wrong with me.”

According to Silvana Quintana of the University of São Paulo, a 20 kg weight loss by a pregnant woman is by no means the norm: “Even for obese patients, this is too rapid a weight loss, which indicates some serious problem.”

“I didn’t have the strength to take my son in my arms”

In the seventh month of pregnancy, Michelle felt a sharp pain in her abdomen. The hospital said that she urgently needs to have a caesarean section, since the child may die due to a lack of amniotic fluid.

Little Samuel was born on May 7, 2018. In general, the boy was healthy, but due to severe prematurity, he was immediately placed in an incubator.

Author of the photo, Photo from the personal archive

Caption to the photo,

Michelle and Samuel

For Michelle herself, childbirth turned out to be difficult, since it was very difficult for her to breathe.It is only later that she learns that the breathing problems were caused by fluid that has accumulated in her lungs as a result of lymphoma.

After giving birth, she was so weak that she could not even take the baby in her arms.

“I had no strength at all. People thought that I probably had postpartum depression or that I was just a monster, but I just physically could not do it,” she says.

Michelle spent another week in the hospital – she slept most of that time. She saw her son several times in the incubator, but was never able to take him in her arms.She also could not breastfeed her newborn due to health problems.

Samuel was in the incubator for 15 days, but was completely healthy. He didn’t even need a respirator.

“There is almost no blood left in my body”

40 days after giving birth, Michelle was still very weak. Her whole body still ached, and her skin began to turn pale, so her relatives decided to urgently show her to a new doctor.

The doctor was amazed to learn about the 20 kilograms lost by the patient.During the examination, he found she had swelling in the area of ​​the lymph nodes – and sent her for further examination.

To begin with, Michelle had to undergo an urgent blood transfusion. “There was almost no blood left in my body,” she says.

Photo author, Getty Images

Photo caption,

This is how Hodgkin’s lymphoma cells look

A few days later, tests showed that Michelle was suffering from Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic tissue involved in creating immunity.

By this time, the disease had already reached her heart and lungs, the lymph nodes were swollen under her arms and in her groin.

“Fluid has accumulated in my heart and lungs, which is why it was hard for me to breathe,” she explains.

Cancer was diagnosed at the last, fourth stage. It is not known exactly when the disease began, but late diagnosis allowed the disease to develop.

“When the doctor told me the diagnosis, I bowed my head and sobbed. It sounded like a death sentence,” recalls Michely.

“I knew there was a cure for this type of cancer,” her husband continues.

In the middle of last year, almost two weeks after the diagnosis, she began chemotherapy.

Micheli’s attending physician, hematologist Suelen Rodriguez Stallbaum, confirms that it can be really difficult to diagnose lymphoma during pregnancy.

Fortunately, the mother’s illness did not affect the health of little Samuel in any way. Because cancer cells are found in the lymphatic system, Stallbaum explains, they are rarely passed on to an unborn child.

Michelle underwent 20 chemotherapy sessions within six months. The first was the hardest. In the second month of treatment, her hair began to fall out. But in the third month she was finally able to take her son in her arms – and “it was an indescribable feeling.