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What Happens When You’re 40 Weeks Pregnant

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What Happens When You’re 40 Weeks Pregnant

You have officially reached the end of the road. Finally! You are 40 weeks pregnant and ready to go any day now.

Continue reading to find out how big the baby is, what developments you both are going through, and some additional information that would be good for you to know this week!

At 40 weeks pregnant your baby is the size of a pumpkin!

All babies vary in size, but the average is about 7 1/2 pounds and around 20 inches long. That’s the size of a small pumpkin! Although your child has been doing a lot of growing and developing, their skull is not completely fused yet to allow for some give during his journey down the birth canal. This could lead to their head being somewhat cone shaped (but don’t worry, it’s only temporary!)

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pumpkin

    What your appointments are looking like

    You still have a few weeks left before you’re officially “post-term”, as due dates aren’t always 100% accurate. At this point you are seeing your doctor each week. They will be keeping an eye on you and your little one to assure you are both healthy, and that everything is going according to plan. You may need to get a bio-physical profile done to monitor your baby’s breathing movements, muscle tone, and level of amniotic fluid in your uterus. They will also probably be doing some fetal heart rate monitoring (or non-stress test).

    Your doctor will also do vaginal exams to see what position your cervix is in, if it is ripening, softening, effacing, and if you are dilating. If anything seems to be abnormal, such as having too little or too much amniotic fluid, you may be induced. If there are any serious concerns you could also have an immediate C-section. If you have not gone into labor on your own by 41-42 weeks they will more than likely prepare to induce.

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    Inducing labor – what to expect

    There are 3 main points that you need to understand if induction is a possibility for you.

    What does inducing labor actually mean?

    Basically, if you have not started going in to labor on your own, there are certain techniques and medications that your doctor can administer to you to help bring on (or “induce”) your contractions. An induction is only done when the risk of staying pregnant is higher than the risk of inducing. Once you have gotten a week or two beyond your due date you are at a higher risk of more serious complications. The placenta can also become less effective at delivering the nutrients your baby needs.

    How is labor induced?

    There are multiple factors that determine how your practitioner decides to induce your labor. Every individual situation is different. It is usually based on the condition of your cervix and the urgency of your induction.

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    If you have not yet started dilating, more than likely you will be admitted to the hospital and your doctor will begin your induction process by vaginally inserting medicine that contains prostaglandins. This medicine is meant to start ripening your cervix and stimulate contractions so that your labor can begin.

    If this medicine does not start your labor, your practitioner will then try a medicine called Pitocin (or Oxytocin) that is administered through an IV. This particular medicine is used to start labor by increasing the contractions you were already having. If your cervix was already ripe before the induction began, they may skip the prostaglandins and just start with the Pitocin.

    Can I do anything to induce labor on my own?

    If you are getting frustrated and want to try to kick-start labor on your own, there are a few methods you can try. However, there are not any methods that are proven to be both safe and effective, so make sure to consult your practitioner before you try anything.

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    • Herbal remedies: There are a few different herbs that are considered to be effective for inducing labor. The safety and effectiveness of these herbs are unknown. There have been instances of certain herbs that cause contractions that are too strong and last too long. There are also some that may not be safe for you or your baby. Due to these instances, some herbs are risky, so be careful if you’re thinking of taking this route.
    • Sexual intercourse: Although at 40 weeks pregnant you may not be feeling all that up to it, semen contains prostaglandins and having an orgasm can stimulate contractions. This, like all of the at-home induction methods, are not 100% effective, but this one is probably the most fun!
    • Nipple stimulation: Stimulating your nipples releases Oxytocin. While it may start your labor, more studies need to be conducted to determine if this is a safe method. There is the possibility of over-stimulating your uterus, and if that were to happen you and your baby would need to be monitored – so this is not the greatest method to try at home.
    • Castor oil is a strong laxative, and bowel movements can help to stimulate contractions. There are quite a few women who stand behind this method, although there is no scientific proof that this helps to induce your labor.

    Rest!

    This is the only activity that you absolutely NEED to be engaging in this week. Watch a movie, read, color (adult coloring book, anyone?), or just take some naps! If you are not taking the time to let your body rest, going into labor will prove to be an exhausting task (even more than it already is).

    Featured photo credit: Phallnn Ooi via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on October 7, 2021

    Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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    Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

    In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

    Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

    There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

    Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

    Let’s get started, shall we?

    Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

    Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

    1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

    When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

    Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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    “Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

    2. Teaches the Value of Family

    Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

    According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

    3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

    Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

    “Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

    For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

    4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

    How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

    “If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

    5. Creates a Safe Environment

    If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

    Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

    6. Reduces Stress

    This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

    According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

    So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

    How to Make Family Time Happen

    Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

    1. Family Dinners

    This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

    Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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    “Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

    According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

    As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

    2.  Regular Movie Nights

    This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

    Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

    3. Game Night

    This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

    In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

    So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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    4. Sharing a Hobby

    If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

    Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

    Final Thoughts

    Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

    Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

    The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

    Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

    Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
    [2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
    [3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
    [4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
    [5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
    [6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
    [7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
    [8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
    [9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
    [10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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