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Waiting for the baby

37-42 weeks

Waiting for the baby

The last few weeks of the pregnancy are much like the quiet before the storm. A baby is ‘ready’ to be born between 37 and 42 weeks. Most births occur after the due date.

Try to take it easy during your maternity leave so that you are rested as much as possible when the time of the birth arrives.  It is recommended to regularly take a short walk, swim or undertake some other form of gentle exercise. This will help to keep you physically fit.

Do not hesitate to ask for help. Especially when this is not your first child, it can be a good idea to share the caring duties with friends and/or family.

Sometimes the birth will commence very quickly while other times it seems to take forever.

Most women can’t wait for the birth to finally happen once they have reached 40 weeks. Unfortunately there are no guaranteed remedies to speed it up. Try to find something else to occupy your mind so that you will focus less on waiting for the birth.  

41 + weeks

From 41 weeks, membrane sweeping has proven to be effective.  The sweeping is an internal procedure where we examine the cervix to determine any dilation. Dilation can occur without you noticing. When we have established dilation, we strip away the membranes from the cervix. This process should kick start labour.

Between week 41 and 42 we can do this procedure every other day. We do this to minimise the chance of having to induce labour at 42 weeks.  The sweeping normally takes place at the practise but can be arranged for a home visit and should take effect within 24 hours. Sometimes this procedure only causes premature contractions, also known as Braxton Hicks contractions. These will fade away or sometimes the procedure has no effect at all.

During this last week of pregnancy we will schedule a check up to take place in the hospital. You will undergo a CTG, which monitors the baby’s heart and contractions of the uterus.  You will also discuss the option of inducing labour.

Different kinds of research articles have been published on the subject of inducing labour at 41 weeks. More information about this is available through leaflet links found below.


If labour is being induced medically (usually at 42 weeks) we will refer you to hospital where you will give birth under the care of a midwife or gynaecologist.

If there is insufficient dilation, the induction process starts by inserting tablets or a balloon catheter into the cervix.  When there is dilation of 1 – 2 centimetres, a midwife or another qualified health carer continues the induction process by manually breaking the amniotic sac.

It can still take a while before you give birth. The amount of time it takes for an induction to be successful can vary. If the cervix is not sufficiently dilated during the internal examination, a successful induction may take a few days. But if an induction can start with breaking the amniotic sac, the baby will often be born within 24 hours.



From 37 weeks it is recommended to arrange bed risers (you can hire these from the thuiszorg winkel) and to prepare a hospital bag.  Even if you have chosen a home birth it is a good idea just in case. Our Webapp will give you a checklist of all necessary items.  You should have received your maternity care pack by now also.  

During the last stages before the birth it is a good idea to make some preparation for the maternity period. For example, if you have enough room in your freezer, to cook and freeze some meals beforehand.

Leaflets & links

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