40 Weeks Pregnant: Symptoms & Baby Development - Babylist
40 Weeks Pregnant
June 7, 2022

40 Weeks Pregnant

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40 Weeks Pregnant.
40 Weeks Pregnant

How Big Is Your Baby at 40 Weeks?

Your baby is 20.4 inches long this week and weighs 7.6 pounds. That’s about the size of a mylar balloon.

Here’s what else to know when you’re 40 weeks pregnant:

Your Baby’s Development at 40 Weeks

From a development standpoint, your baby is pretty much ready to be born, but they might not be ready to come out quite yet. Here’s what may be happening with your baby at 40 weeks.

  • Slower growth: Your baby’s size plateaus after 40 weeks of pregnancy because they have maxed out their living quarters.
  • Hard bones: Baby’s bones have hardened—except for the skull, which remains soft so the head can sort of squish together to make its way down the birth canal. This is why some babies have cone-shaped heads in the early days. But eventually, the head should round out nicely.
  • Nail growth: The rest of your baby might not be growing much, but their fingernails and toenails are still lengthening. You’ll probably want to clip those tiny talons after birth.

💛 Congratulations 💛

This is it! You are so close!

40 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound


Your Body: Pregnancy Symptoms at 40 Weeks

Your body is getting ready for your baby’s arrival. You may be uncomfortable in this last week (or weeks), so try to take some time to take care of yourself. Here’s what to expect when you’re 40 weeks pregnant.

  • Braxton Hicks contractions: Your body may still be practicing for labor by tightening your belly every now and again. Those contractions eventually should turn into the real thing, which gets your cervix ready for baby’s trip down the birth canal.
  • Leaking boobs: You might find you need to use nursing pads before your baby even arrives. Technically, the leakage isn’t breast milk yet; it’s colostrum, which is a thick, yellowish liquid that will be a breastfed baby’s food for the first few days, before all that sucking signals the breast milk to officially come in.
  • Overall discomfort: When you’re 40 weeks pregnant, you might feel like everything hurts just a little: backaches, hip pain and pelvic pressure might all be nagging at this point. Keep stretching, doing your best to get comfy when you’re lying down and taking breaks to put up your feet when you can. Hang in there—you won’t be pregnant much longer!

You’re Past 40 Weeks Pregnant. Now What?

You’ve been counting down to your due date for so long, you probably haven’t given much thought to what happens if you go past it. Here are a few things that may come up:

Natural ways to induce labor: Since your due date came and went, you may be considering trying a few methods to help get things started. A few of the common methods to naturally induce labor are:

  • Walking. Exercise isn’t proven to induce labor, but many parents swear their contractions started after a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Can’t hurt!
  • Acupuncture. Scientific studies have mixed reviews on acupuncture’s ability to jumpstart labor. If needles are your thing and your doctor says okay, you can give it a go.
  • Sex. There’s no firm evidence that sperm or orgasms bring on labor, but one study did find that pregnant people who had sex after 36 weeks were less likely to go past their due date or need induction. Worth a try?

But be careful with these methods:

  • Nipple stimulation. Nipple stimulation can be effective, but you should probably shouldn’t try it at home—the contractions could come on too strong. If you were to try this one, make sure that you are in the hospital (maybe for a medical induction) and supplement with nipple stimulation, with your doc’s approval, rather than trying it unsupervised before you go into labor naturally.
  • Castor oil. Drinking castor oil is more likely to give you a stomach ache and diarrhea than it is to get labor going.

Other things to consider once your due date has come and gone:

Testing: If your baby isn’t showing any signs of breaking out soon, your doc may order a biophysical profile made up of two tests: an ultrasound and a non-stress test.

  • The ultrasound will be much like the others you’ve had so far where they measure the baby and your levels of amniotic fluid.
  • With a nonstress test, a medical tech will place a heart rate monitor on your belly and measure your baby’s movement and heart rate for about 20 minutes. Bring a relaxing book, or just veg out and take the time to ponder what your baby will be like when they arrive.

Medical induction: If the doctor sees something on the tests that says “time to deliver!” or if you go past 41 weeks, you and your healthcare provider may decide to induce labor using medication. This can be performed using one or both of these meds:

  • Prostaglandin: This medication is inserted like a tampon overnight to help ripen the cervix (which means softening and opening up to get ready for baby to pass through).
  • Pitocin: An IV is used to administer this medication in order to spur contractions.

A little extra help: Don’t get too impatient—babies tend to arrive when they’re truly ready. But if after talking to your doctor, you both feel your baby is good to go and your body just needs a little extra help to start the labor process, you may choose to have one of these slightly gentler induction methods performed:

  • Stripping membranes: The doctor can use a finger to strip membranes around the amniotic sac, which can release hormones and may jumpstart labor.
  • Breaking your water: A special tool can be used to break the amniotic sac and get contractions going, usually within a few hours.

Keeping yourself busy: The waiting game is real. Some parents-to-be go crazy with the last-minute nesting things, like making a bunch of freezer meals and cleaning that gross area behind the fridge. But try not to stress yourself out—you really don’t have to do all that. So long as you have a safe place for your baby to sleep, a car seat and some diapers, you’re ready. It’s okay to sit back with some Netflix if that feels better.

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Your Life at 40 Weeks Pregnant

You made it! (Insert all the celebration emojis here!) Time for a happy dance and a whole lot of patience—when you’re 40 weeks pregnant, these last few days tend to be the slowest.

  • Top tip: Download some audiobooks and start walking. Even if the extra movement doesn’t make labor start any sooner, it’ll keep you active and occupied while you wait. For great listens, check out Michelle Obama’s Becoming, narrated by the former first lady, or Educated by Tara Westover and read by actress Julia Whelan.
  • Words to live by: Eat, sleep, feed. This three-word mantra is the only one you need during month one of parenthood. Write it down, tape it to your bathroom mirror, stick it on your fridge and put it in your memory bank right now to be used when you feel the need to do something crazy—like vacuum or entertain visitors with crumpets and tea—after your baby arrives.
  • Recipes to try: Does eating pineapple really get contractions going? The jury is still out, but hey, it certainly can’t hurt and it tastes good too. Here are some fun ways to enjoy this sweet-tart tropical fruit: Easy Pineapple Salsa, Non-Alcoholic Pineapple Mojito and Pineapple and Avocado Salad.
  • Be good to you: You’re probably feeling some combination of impatient, excited, nervous and uncomfortable. It’s all normal. Write it down, talk it out and make as much space as possible to feel everything that’s coming up for you right now.

Fun Fact

Babies are born with a grasping reflex so strong that they can hold themselves up with one hand. (If you decide to test it out, be careful; they can let go.)

Your 40 Weeks Pregnant Belly

You’re basically at capacity, most likey having gained around 25 to 35 pounds total throughout your pregnancy. Your baby is still moving around in there, though not as strongly kicking, since there’s less space. Keep doing kick counts, and alert your doc if you notice any changes in how often your baby is moving.

You might be getting pretty antsy at this point, but rest assured that almost all babies make their debut by 42 weeks. In fact, many healthcare providers recommend a medical induction at 41 weeks pregnant, depending on how you and baby are doing—that’s something you’ll discuss at your next appointment. Right now, it may seem like an eternity away, but it’s really just a matter of days before you meet your babe.

40 Week Baby Bumps from Real Moms










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40 Weeks Pregnant Checklist

  • Go to your week 40 prenatal visit—and while you’re there, talk about scheduling an induction if you want one.
  • Make a list of helpful things for eager visitors to do after the baby comes.
  • Anything left for the nursery? Now’s the time to get it in place.
  • Get a pedicure. This is an ideal time to get a foot massage and read a magazine.
  • How about a nice warm bath? As long as your water hasn’t broken, take some time to relax in the tub. Also bath bombs are weird and awesome.
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