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Your Baby at Week 40
The End of Pregnancy
This is the moment your baby and you have been waiting for!
At 40 weeks pregnant, you’re at the official end of your pregnancy.
Your baby probably weighs anywhere from six to nine pounds and measures between 19 and 22 inches (though tons of perfectly healthy babies are born smaller or bigger).
You (or actually the placenta) are still providing the antibodies he’ll need to fight off infections for the first six months of his life, but if you plan on breastfeeding your milk will give him more antibodies to boost his immune system (especially colostrum, a thin, yellowish precursor to breast milk that’s super rich in antibodies and feeds your baby for the first few days postpartum).
40 Weeks Pregnant Is How Many Months?
If you’re 40 weeks pregnant, you’re in month 9 of your pregnancy.
It’s almost time! Still have questions? Here’s some more information on how weeks, months and trimesters are broken down in pregnancy.
Baby’s Vision at Birth
The first thing you’re likely to look for when your new arrival makes that dramatic
(and possibly fashionably late) entrance: proof positive that your baby is actually a boy or a girl.
That major mystery solved once and for all, you’ll also notice that baby (besides being cute as can be — and yours!) is wearing a little leftover travel dust consisting of blood, vernix, lanugo and amniotic fluid.
From your baby’s perspective, you’ll look a bit blurry — babies at birth can focus only about an inch away — but that’s okay.
Just be sure to say hello to your new arrival, since your baby will very likely recognize the sound of your voice and your partner’s.
Your Newborn Will Love Being Swaddled
You’ll notice your little one is still curled in the fetal position (though her arms and legs may flail a bit).
That’s because after nine months in such cramped quarters, it’ll take a while before your baby realizes she has room to spread out.
And because it’s the only position she has really known, it’s a comforting one to be in.
That’s also why so many newborns like to be swaddled — it reminds them of your uterus.
Your Body at Week 40
When will your body know it’s time to deliver this baby?
Just because your due date is marked with pen on your practitioner’s chart (and with red marker on your calendar) doesn’t mean that Mother Nature’s gotten the memo.
About 30 percent of all pregnancies last longer than 40 weeks and it’s anyone’s guess when yours might end (though your practitioner will probably not let it go longer than 42 weeks, thankfully).
When (and If) Your Water Will Break
One event that’s not guaranteed before the onset of labor is your water breaking (aka the rupture of the amniotic sac surrounding your baby the last nine months).
By now, you’ve no doubt lost a night or two’s sleep over when and where it will happen — because you’ve heard or seen on TV horror stories about an inconvenient (no, make that humiliating) time and place (like in the middle of a busy sidewalk at lunch hour or at a jam-packed mall on a Saturday morning).
But your reality show will probably be a little different, first, because fewer than 15 percent of women experience a rupture of the membranes before labor begins, and second, because if your water does break in public, it’s less likely to come as a torrential tidal wave and more likely to come as a slow leak, trickle or small gush.
One thing you can be pretty sure of if your water breaks before your contractions have started:
Labor will likely begin in earnest within 24 hours. Either that or your practitioner will start it for you within 24 hours.
How can you tell if your amniotic sac has ruptured? Amniotic fluid is usually colorless and odorless.
If you notice fluid that looks yellowish and smells of ammonia, you’re probably leaking urine.
Another test: You can try to stem the flow of the fluid by squeezing your pelvic muscles (Kegel exercises).
If the flow stops, it’s urine. If it doesn’t, it’s amniotic fluid.
If your water breaks and the fluid is green or brown, be sure to call your practitioner right away.
It could mean that your baby has had a bowel movement (meconium) in utero.
Many women share an unfounded fear of not being able to actually birth their baby.
It does seem implausible that something so big (a six- or seven-plus-pound watermelon) could squeeze through such a little space, but that’s exactly what happens most of the time.
Whether you’re plus-size, petite or any size in between, it’s how big your pelvis is — not your frame — that matters.
Mother Nature knows what she’s doing (for the most part) and the majority of newborns are pretty well-matched to the size of their mothers (if you’re small-boned, chances are you’re not carrying sumo baby in there — unless, of course, you’ve eaten like a sumo wrestler during pregnancy).
And your vagina knows what to do, too — it stretches considerably during childbirth and then, miraculously, tightens up again.
(You can help that process along by doing your Kegels faithfully both before and after you deliver.)
Even your baby knows what to do — by molding his still-pliable head to fit through that tight squeeze.
So don’t worry!
40 WEEKS PREGNANT
Happy due date!
Since 40 weeks pregnant is baby’s official deadline, you’ve already made up the bassinet, installed baby’s car seat, packed your hospital bag, and set it by the door.
Now, take care of some easy last-minute things, like making sure your cell phone is fully charged before you go to bed and filling the car with gas.
At week 40 of pregnancy, some moms-to-be put a waterproof mattress cover on their bed, in case their water breaks in the middle of the night.
It’s not a must, but it’s not a bad idea either, especially because once baby comes, there might be other messes to catch (breast milk, spit up, pee…).
Week 40 of pregnancy can be mentally rough, since you’ll be constantly wondering when baby will decide to make his or her entrance and question every twinge you have.
Try not to stress, and rest assured that baby will arrive when he or she’s ready—and your body will give you the right signals that it’s time.
How Big Is Baby at 40 Weeks Pregnant?
At 40 weeks pregnant, baby is the size of a watermelon.
The average full-term 40- week baby measures about 20.2 inches from crown to heel and weighs 7.6 pounds.
40 Weeks Pregnant Is How Many Months?
40 weeks pregnant is nine months.
Say it again because it feels good:
Nine. Months. Pregnant. You made it!
40 WEEKS PREGNANT SYMPTOMS
During these last weeks of pregnancy, the same symptoms you’ve been having will likely continue.
Your main job is to hang in there as you keep experiencing these:
Stick with the calf and hamstring stretches to keep leg cramps from messing with your sleep.
Pelvic pressure. Baby may drop even lower in your pelvis, making your pelvic discomfort worse.
If you can’t sleep, it’s okay to get up and do something else, but keep to a calming activity such as reading or writing in a journal.
Don’t start cleaning out your freezer or doing a Zumba video. Rest.
Fatigue. The fact that you can’t sleep isn’t really helping here.
But since you may not have any plans, you may be able to sneak in an extra nap here or there—or at least take some quiet time to relax.
Those Braxton Hicks contractions may eventually turn into the real deal, so if it seems like you’re having a lot of them, start timing them to see how far apart they are.
If they get closer together, you’re in an early stage of labor.
Baby will get here when he or she gets here.
Do your best not to stress.
40 WEEKS PREGNANT SIGNS OF LABOR
You might be 40 weeks pregnant with no signs of labor.
But at 40 weeks pregnant, signs of labor will be here very soon.
Call your doctor right away if you have contractions that are more than a little uncomfortable or keep coming at regular intervals.
The other 40 weeks pregnant sign of labor to look out for? A leak or flow of amniotic fluid—this means your water has ruptured or broken.
You’ll likely know because it will be truly watery, not like typical discharge, and it doesn’t stop. At first you might think it’s pee, but then you will realize—nope! You’re in labor!
Call your OB.
INDUCING LABOR AT 40 WEEKS PREGNANT
At 40 weeks pregnant, you may be getting antsy—after all, this is supposed to be your last week of pregnancy!
You may be curious how to induce labor using natural methods.
We recommend taking long walks and having sex. (Both are fun pastimes and could cause your body to start the process.)
If you want to try acupuncture, that’s considered safe too.
However, don’t take herbal supplements or drink castor oil—doctors say those methods are unsafe and probably won’t work anyhow.
You might have heard that stimulating your nipples can induce labor—it can, but doctors recommend you don’t even try it.
In fact, nipple stimulation can cause contractions that are too strong and may put baby’s well-being in jeopardy. Not worth it.
Now that you’ve reached your due date, your doctor might talk to you about inducing labor medically.
Whether or not this is necessary will have to do with how baby’s doing in there.
(The doctor might schedule this now if you have complications or are 40 weeks pregnant with twins.)
If baby’s perfectly healthy and you have no complications, you might not need an induction at all and can keep sticking it out, even if it takes a couple more weeks.
(Yes, weeks. Though chances are high that you’ll go into labor naturally by the end of next week.)
It might be worth it to know that you waited it out until your baby was truly ready.
40 WEEKS PREGNANT ULTRASOUND
Your 40-week fetus is continuing to grow hair and nails.
And baby at 40 weeks is keeping up that lung development too.
Once you’ve completed a full-term pregnancy and reached 40 weeks, your doctor will likely want to do a biophysical profile.
ICYMI, this is a two-fold test.
You’ll have a non-stress test, where baby’s movement and your contractions are monitored to see how baby’s heart rate reacts.
You’ll also have a 40 weeks pregnant ultrasound to see what the amniotic fluid levels look like.
If the results of the non-stress test and/or the 40 weeks pregnant ultrasound suggest that baby would be better off “on the outside” than in utero, then an induction may be ordered.
If everything looks good, you’re back to the waiting game.
Hey, baby can’t stay in there forever!