40 weeks pregnant means you are coming to the end of your pregnancy! This is the stage you have been waiting for for a long time.
You baby is now fully formed and ready to be born.
40 weeks pregnant: Baby
At week 40 pregnancy, your baby will be an almost fully sized newborn, and weigh about 6-9 lbs. He will measure anything between 19 and 22 inches. Because your baby is now the size of a newborn baby, the space inside your tummy is limited. Even though there is not much room, remember you should always feel your baby in the same way as you have throughout your pregnancy.
40 weeks pregnant: You
Though your baby is due this week, roughly half of all pregnancies take longer than the official week 40. Your body will normally know when it is time to finally give birth to your baby, though your health care provider will normally induce you (when your labour is started artificially) after around 42 weeks. Don't worry if you are over your due date, this is just an estimate and lots of babies take longer to arrive. If you are overdue try to keep focused on how busy you will be when your baby is born.
40 weeks pregnant: How you are feeling and what to expect
At 40 weeks pregnant you will soon begin to feel your first contractions, which will last a minute each or a bit longer. Contractions will be felt through your stomach, lower back and thighs and will probably be like no other pain you have experienced before. It is different for every woman and how you react will also differ.
Make sure you have discussed with your healthcare provider how you would like to approach the birth. Some women opt for a completely natural birth, while others prefer to use only gas and air. Others decide in advance to manage the pain through an epidural. It’s up to you!
40 weeks pregnant: Feelings about birthing
Many women feel anxiety at the thought of giving birth to their baby. This is often due to the fear that the baby will not fit through their pelvis. Generally, the size of a baby will more or less match its mother’s, and if you are very petite your baby is probably small too. Your vagina stretches during pregnancy and then tightens up again.
You can help the whole process by doing pelvic floor exercises or Kegel exercises in preparation. Don't worry as your baby also knows what to do – his head is still malleable when he travels the birth canal, which also makes the process much easier.
Hypnobirthing techniques may also be useful throughout your pregnancy to help you prepare and relax for the birth. Hypnobirthing is a technique used to help women preparing for birth, feel more in control and at ease with the process of labour. The methods normally include breathing techniques, visualisations and self-hypnosis. Contact your local surgery or look online for more information.
40 weeks pregnant: Tips to bring on birth
Many studies have shown that the myths of eating spicy food and having sex as ways to bring on labour are unfortunately unfounded. However, many mothers claim that reflexology works wonders at speeding-up labour. One foot contains thousands of nerve endings, and knowing where to apply pressure can actually kick-start your uterus into action. Check online for your nearest reflexology clinic or have a go at administering your own reflexology foot massage at home by following online tutorials. Being 40 weeks pregnant, you’re probably really looking forward for your pregnancy to come to an end!
40 weeks pregnant: When will my waters break?
The start of labour is sometimes marked by your waters breaking, although it is more common to start feeling other signs of labour first. Normally your waters breaking is just a small trickle of fluid (the amniotic fluid which has surrounded your baby for the last nine months). Normally it won't be a 'rupturing' of liquid as is often seen in films. Once you experience your waters breaking, your labour will probably begin properly within 24 hours.
Amniotic fluid is odorous and colourless, if it is yellow and smells of ammonia it is probably urine. Try using the pelvic Kegel exercises to see if you can stop the flow, and if you can, it is probably urine. Remember if the fluid is green or brown it may be a bowel movement from your baby and you should call your doctor straight away.
You could also experience 'a show': This is a small amount of blood or mucus that comes from your cervix and marks the early stages of labour or can even happen before labour has fully started.
40 weeks pregnant: At the hospital
Your doctor will first check how you are progressing and see how far you are dilated. At 2-3cms dilated you may be offered an epidural to help you manage the pain of labour. It's also possible you may be offered a C-Section by your doctor if they think it is advisable to your labour.
If you have had your heart set on a natural birth don't be disappointed, remember it is up to you to chose the best and healthiest method of delivery for your baby. It's okay to change your mind!
If there isn't any need for methods such as a C-Section, now is the time to remember all the methods you learnt at your antenatal classes and begin to start using them. Try to relax your breathing as much as possible and focus on remaining calm.
Final preparations for 40 weeks pregnant women:
- Make sure your and your partner's phones are up to date with all the emergency telephone numbers as well as numbers for friends and relatives.
- Keep taxi numbers somewhere safe for getting to the hospital
- It's probably a good idea to carry your medical notes with you at all times now. You won't be able to pop back and get them should you go into labour unexpectedly.
- Pack your overnight hospital bag with everything you will need if you have to get going in a hurry.
At 40 weeks pregnant you will soon be meeting your baby for the first time. Try to get as much as you can ready, but make sure you don't overdo it in these final weeks!