40th Week of Pregnancy: The Changes, The Homestretch & What Your Baby is Doing  

40 Weeks is the average length of a normal healthy pregnancy. However, this can vary from mother to mother. Learn about the changes, progress and preparation you can do for your 40th week of pregnancy.

Once you’ve reached the 40th week of pregnancy, that means your wait is finally over and you’ve almost reached the due date. This is the ninth month. Your baby inside you is “Full-term” now, ready to make a move out of your womb.  Soon they’ll come into your world to make you feel the joy of being a mother.

If you haven’t gone into labour yet, you needn’t worry at all! (30% of pregnancies go ahead of the 40–week mark). The little guy or girl inside you will take a little more time to see you off your womb. The road may be a little longer, but the feelings can keep you surprised as well as on your toes. It’s just a matter of patiently waiting now. The baby may be there anytime. Chances are, you’ll be able to welcome your baby into your world this week only.

So, here’s everything you need to know about the 40th week of your pregnancy – whether it is your baby or your body. 

See How Your Baby is Getting Ready to Meet You?

In the 40th week of pregnancy, your healthcare practitioner will make you run through a few important tests. A biophysical profile (two-fold test), a non–stress test (baby’s movements and heart rate are measured) as well a 40th week of pregnancy ultrasound scan are a must to monitor your baby’s health at this stage. So, here are the changes or developments that you’d be able to notice in your baby:

The Baby’s Size

When your healthcare practitioner measures the baby inside you, from the top to the bottom (crown-rump length) your baby will be 36.3 cm. The height of the baby at this stage can be more than 51.7 cm1. In addition to this, your little one’s weight will be around 8 pounds 2. Just about the size of a small pumpkin. If you give birth to your baby this week, he or she may be smaller or larger, but your baby is going to be healthy, almost looking like the perfectly plump babies in the magazine. 

The Baby’s Accumulating Fat

Your baby’s body will be made up of enough subcutaneous fat by this week. This fat in your baby’s body will help keep the baby’s body temperature in control inside. However, if you happen to give birth this week, the subcutaneous fat will help maintain the body temperature of the baby even after birth.

The Immune System will be Stronger

The placenta is the most important organ between you and the little one. The baby gets nourished with the all-essential oxygen and nutrients via the cord blood and eliminates the waste materials. The placenta has another important function to keep the baby safe from infections by passing on the antibodies from you to your baby. These antibodies from the placenta will help battle against the infection even after the first 6 months of his or her life.

The Baby’s Skull is Soft

Ideally, by now, your little one has already taken the child-birthing position with their head facing the birth canal. (There might be situations when the baby might take the breech position – their cute little toes would be facing the birth canal). Therefore, the baby’s skull will be soft and flexible (appearing with soft spots which are also known as fontanels) to allow passage through the birth canal easily and smoothly.

Your Baby’s Skin and Skin Colour

Your little one’s skin inside you may appear dry because they have already shed off the vernix. The waxy coating of vernix is like moisturising lotion on your baby’s body. Having said that, while the baby’s skin may be reddish–purple, their hands and feet may bear a blue – tinge.

The baby’s hair and nails keep developing. Besides, the eyes (The central vision will be just a little blurry), breasts, and genitals may be swollen.

Overall, your little one is getting ready to make a move out of your womb.

As you come across some of the common changes in your little one this week, you’ll feel a lot changing inside and out.

How Your Body and Mind Are Getting Ready to Hold the Little One in Your Arms?

By this time, you already know that your little one inside is “full-term”. But, you might still be doubtful as to when your little one will arrive. However, patience is the “key” for you now. You’re more likely to put on weight – anything between 25 and 35 pounds.

The end of the pregnancy may leave you overwhelmed, and overly confused, along with a lot of physical challenges.

There’s no Guarantee as to When Your Water Breaks

That’s the onset of labour. This shows that your precious and cuddly arrival will be impending. In this situation, there is a rupturing of the amniotic membrane. Though a subtle occurrence, it is a slow and colourless leakage of the amniotic fluid. If you observe the amniotic fluid, it looks and smells like yellowish urine. Contact the doctor or my way to the hospital immediately if you feel your water has broken.

There’s an Unfounded Fear of Labour or Can Experience False Labour (Braxton Hicks Contractions)

You may already have experienced Braxton – Hicks Contractions in the previous week or throughout the end of the pregnancy journey. These are repetitive, uncomfortable, and painful abdominal tightening. You’d hardly be able to distinguish them from real labourers. However, you can note one thing here, the contractions may be irregular and erratic, but tension may be intense and frequent.

Experience the Various Stages of Labour

You’ll be experiencing real labour pain. While the early or latent phase of labour may not be regular and not very painful and would last for 30 to 45 seconds (The cervix dilates and thins), in an active state of labour; the contractions are stronger, lengthy and more painful. In the transitional stage, the contractions are intense. In all these stages of labour, it might be very difficult for you to relax really. When you reach the stage of full dilation, it’s time for you to push the baby out of your womb (The moment when you need hospitalisation immediately).

Since the little one has slowed down a bit, they are still moving around there, giving your entire uterus, pelvis, back, legs, and vagina a really good but pain-struck time. The flutters, or rolls in the count of 10 do matter a lot!

Dealing with this rock-and-roll would also make you tired – both physically and emotionally. The emotional upheavals for your baby-to-be may make you get the instinct of nesting or cleaning up (That will be your energy level).

Do You Know How to Deal With the 40th Week of Pregnancy Symptoms?

While you wait to greet your baby in your world and be ready for labour and childbirth, encourage your baby to take the position.

Natural Remedies

Help yourself with these simple, safe, and natural remedies:

  • Brisk Walking. Just a little bit of stroll might work as a catalyst both for your body and the baby. Doing the Kegels is important when contractions take place. They may not be able to eradicate the pelvic pain, but you may feel the pain reduced to the extent possible. Continue doing your Kegel exercises daily (they’re helpful for birth and your recovery).
    • Continue doing your daily perineal massages. Massage of the perineum (the skin between the vaginal opening and the rectum) involves massaging and stretching the skin.
    • Practise prenatal yoga poses to keep yourself calm as well as stress–free.
    • Track the time of contractions
    • Stimulate the nipples
    • Having spicy food or high-fibre food, unlike the other stages of pregnancy
    • Stay hydrated

Medical Help

As far as supporting physical health is concerned, easing the vaginal and perineum pain, making bathroom use easier and soothing the breasts sore is necessary. So, your provider help you with these things:

  • Anaesthetic spray to numb vaginal and perineum area
  • Try the sitz warm bath
  • Give you frozen maxi pads
  • Give you a doughnut cushion to sit on it
  • Give you ibuprofen to ease pain
  • Make you wear nursing pads and a supportive bra
  • Apply hot and cold compresses on the breasts
  • Give you medically prescribed pain–relief medicines
  • Let your partner be with you all the time to speak to your provider till such time that you deliver your baby.
  • Speak to your support groups – physical as well as online, exchange each other’s experiences and keep yourself relaxed.
  • Your decision on cord blood banking is an important one. The blood-forming stem cells-rich cord blood is over 80 types of life-threatening disease treatable. Hope you carry your cord blood collection kit box with you before you hit the birthing centre.

This may not be an easy go for you but with the above-mentioned techniques you can win over your labour challenges.

Hope you have a healthy childbirth!