40 Weeks Pregnant - Symptoms, Baby Development, Tips - Babylist

40 Weeks Pregnant

May 16, 2019

40 Weeks Pregnant

40 Weeks Pregnant
40 Weeks Pregnant

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

Your Baby at 40 Weeks

  • Slower growth: 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 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

Pregnancy Ultrasound Week 40

Photo by Tommy’s

Pregnancy Symptoms at 40 Weeks

  • 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 mom’s 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!

Your 40 Weeks Pregnant Belly

You’re basically at capacity, 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 OBs recommend a medical induction at 41 weeks, depending on how mom 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.

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 moms 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 OK, 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 women 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 the baby’s movement and heart rate for about 20 minutes. Bring a relaxing book, or just veg out and take the time to ponder on how much is going to change once this little one arrives.

Medical induction: If the doctor sees something on the tests that says “time to deliver!” or if you go past 41 weeks, you and the doc 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 moms-to-be get stir crazy doing 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 OK to sit back with some Netflix if that feels better.

40 Week Baby Bumps from Real Moms










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.)

How to Manage Visitors After Baby Comes

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If your friends and family are banging down the doors to meet the new baby, it can be hard to say no and to balance their needs with yours. (Reminder: your needs are the trump card for a while.)

Here are four tips for dealing with them:

  • Make a list of all the things that would helpful for other people to do for you. If they ask, refer them to the list.
  • Set clear limits now not later. Tell friends and family who you do and don’t want in the delivery room, to visit you in the hospital and/or who’ll visit you and the baby in the days and weeks after the birth. It’s OK to tell them you might not be up for visitors and to check back later.
  • Resist the urge to entertain. You shouldn’t be cooking for guests or cleaning your home for their arrival. You’ll have a lot of healing to do, no matter how you’re giving birth. You need to be caring for yourself and your baby—no one else.
  • Expect not to feel quite yourself after the birth. Postpartum hormones are pretty crazy. You may get angry, sad or touchy way more easily than you usually do. It’s best to avoid situation that could be overwhelming or cause an argument.

Get the full details in our guide to managing your visitors here.

Top Tip for 40 Weeks Pregnant

“Once your baby is born, you and your baby and your partner are a family, and everyone else is a relative. This is the time to prioritize your family,” says Joanna Cascione, a postpartum mother-baby registered nurse and lactation consultant.

Do you think this content is helpful? Let our editors know!

Week 40 Pregnancy Checklist

  • Go to your week 40 prenatal visit.
  • Schedule your week 41 visit while you’re there—and/or your potential induction!
  • Make that list for your visitors.
  • 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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