When you are in the 40th week of your pregnancy, you can expect to deliver a baby any time now. Your baby is fully developed and you will start experiencing contractions in your uterus along with indigestion problems, and some pain in the pelvic region.
You have just entered the 40th week of your pregnancy and you feel frustrated about the fact that your due date is near, and you still feel no signs of labour contractions. Do not worry as you will soon notice the first signs of labour, and the third-trimester pregnancy symptoms will keep you occupied.
What Does Your Baby Look Like?
Congratulations on carrying your baby to its full-term! When you are 40 weeks pregnant, your baby will have completed his development and is all ready to come out. He keeps gaining weight, and exercising his lungs until it is show time. The bones in his skull are not completely fused, and these will overlap when he is trying to come out of the birth canal. This is the time your baby might also feel some pressure which can mould his skull into a cone-shape, which is perfectly normal.
40 Weeks Pregnant - What to Expect
At 40 weeks of pregnancy, there are times that you feel like you are ‘on hold’. You can’t focus too much time or energy on anything if in case the baby arrives soon!
Your pelvic muscles will be supporting the extra weight of your uterus and can sag at critical points. A heavy, congested feeling in your pelvis can be expected. You may also note white discharge from your nipple, which is your body’s way of preparing to feed for the baby. If you do find a sudden gush of fluid from your vagina, along with regular uterine contractions at approximate intervals of 15 minutes, or a steady ache in your lower back, you may be experiencing symptoms of early labour. Contact your doctor immediately if this is the case.
Around this time, while pregnant women usually deserve their hard-earned bed rest, the nesting instinct can kick in for many moms-to-be. You may want to embark on a cleaning frenzy around the house and make sure that every place is a safe environment for your new arrival. Emotionally, you’re going to be on tenterhooks. It is normal to have mixed feelings of anxiety, excitement, worry and happiness, all at the same time!
40 Weeks Pregnant Belly and Ultrasound
At 40 weeks, so close to go-time, the skin of your belly will be stretched tight and taut. Stretch marks may appear vividly coloured and your belly-button may look it has turned inside out. If you try to wrap your hands around, underneath your tummy, you may see that your fingers can’t even touch!
The below image is an ultrasound of a foetus at 40 weeks.
Watch: 40 Weeks Pregnant - Your Baby is Now Ready for Delivery
Mothers-to-be, relax and take good care of yourself in these last few days of your pregnancy.
Your baby is now 20.16 inches and close to 4 kgs, and his reflexes are ready as well. With the first breath that he takes on his own, after the delivery, the umbilical cord stops functioning.
This week, visit your gynaecologist regularly and get the following tests done - Blood pressure, weight check, protein control, and pulse rate.
Cherish these last few days that you get alone with your partner too!
Week 40 of Pregnancy - Symptoms and Conditions
The following is a list of common symptoms and conditions you can experience when you are 40 weeks pregnant.
Reduced Foetal Movement:
Your baby’s movement will slow down by the 40th week of pregnancy, but you can still feel your baby rolling, wiggling and moving in your womb.
Braxton Hicks Contractions:
You might feel sporadic uterine contractions or false labour, which might appear as labour pains. If you experience high-intensity pains, then it is an indication that the time of delivery has arrived.
During the 40th week of your pregnancy, you might suffer from heartburn or indigestion problems.
The frequency of loose stools will become quite common during the 40th week of pregnancy. Loose bowel movements are a sign that labour is around the corner.
You might not feel the widening of your cervix, but it will continue to dilate during the 40th week of pregnancy. It indicates that your body is preparing for labour.
Pain in the Pelvic Region:
By the 40th week of pregnancy, you might start to feel discomfort near your pelvic area. This happens as your baby’s head pushes against your hips and bladder.
Cramps in your Legs:
Carrying a fully grown infant in your stomach might result in painful spasms in your legs.
Since the baby is now moving down, the pressure from your ribs releases, which helps you breathe easier. It also helps to relieve heartburn.
Thick Vaginal Discharge:
The vagina discharges a thick mucus plug - which earlier blocked the uterus to stop bacteria from entering your cervix - as the baby is pushed down to the birthing canal. The discharge can be clear, or tinged slightly with blood.
Backaches become more common with the baby’s head exerting pressure into the pelvis and with changes in your posture.
The 40th week of pregnancy means increased hormonal levels, high levels of discomfort, extra weight - all of which can leave you fatigued and exhausted. Lack of sleep can occur due to the incessant discomfort.
There is an increased blood flow to the kidneys and the muscles in the urinary tract are relaxed due to the increased progesterone levels. The uterus also exerts pressure on the bladder as it enlarges, making you prone to urinate frequently.
This is one of the most uncomfortable, and unfortunately, one of the most common symptoms you’ll experience closer to your due date. A change in hormone levels causes increased blood flow to your skin. This can make you feel warm and flushed.
Since the volume of blood increases during pregnancy, the rate at which it flows from your legs to your pelvis can decrease, which can put pressure on veins. This results in varicose veins appearing on your legs.
You’ll notice severe swelling of your hands, face, and feet in your 40th week, which usually occurs due to increased oestrogen levels causing water retention.
Tips for Pregnancy Week 40
Here are some tips you can follow for the different conditions you experience during the 40th week of pregnancy.
For Braxton Hicks contractions, take short walks and try changing positions. Stand up or go for a walk if you’ve been lying down for too long, or vice versa. You can try a warm bath for lesser than 30 minutes, or a cup of warm milk/herbal tea. Ensure to keep yourself hydrated too.
Chewing gum after every meal may provide you with some relief from indigestion or heartburn, as it increases saliva flow which neutralizes acid levels in the stomach.
Spend time sitting with your feet up, or lying down on your side. A massage from a professional prenatal massage therapist might help you to soothe this discomfort. Alternatively, try warm baths or a belly sling to relieve pressure on the lower back.
Get rid of leg and foot cramps by flexing your ankle and toes back and forth. You can also soak your feet in water with Epsom salt dissolved in it.
Keep yourself well hydrated and wear breathable clothes to be relieved of the discomfort of hot flashes.
Get a relaxing, therapeutic head massage to help with your disturbed or lack of sleep.
For swelling in your feet, you can do foot exercises. Bend and stretch your foot upwards and downwards around 30 times. You can also rotate each foot 8 times, both clockwise and anti-clockwise.
In terms of checkups, you can get your baby’s biophysical profile checked during this week. It is mainly a full body check-up of your baby. It involves an ultrasound test to analyse your baby’s breathing, the movement of his chest muscles and diaphragm, his muscle tone, and the amount of amniotic fluid surrounding him.
Your doctor might ask you to go for both non-stress and ultrasound tests, respectively. This test is done to keep a check on your baby’s heart rate, and to help the doctor decide whether you can undergo induced labour.
40 Weeks Pregnancy - Diet
Your baby is almost here! This week requires you to focus on nutrients that can pass from your body to your baby while breastfeeding. Known collectively as LCPs, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are a group of fats which can be found in certain foods. AA (Omega 6) and DHA (Omega 3) are certain LCPs which can be passed on to the baby during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The latter helps your baby’s healthy brain development during pregnancy and contributes to his brain and eye development after birth.
Oily fishes such as mackerel, fresh tuna, salmon and sardines are good sources of DHA. You can also go for options such as nuts, seeds, wholegrain cereals, certain soya products, and dark green veggies. Take note, however, that these while these options provide Omega 3 fats, your body may not do its best at converting them into DHA.
Dos and Dont’s
You’re at the threshold of giving birth, at week 40! Here are a few things you can do or avoid to ensure a smooth 40th week of pregnancy, some of which can help speed up labour.
Stimulate your nipples, or get baby-daddy to do it! Gently rubbing or rolling your fingers over your nipples releases oxytocin, which in turn can push the body to have contractions.
Orgasms can be a contraction trigger and prostaglandins in semen can also help prepare your body for labour. Just some more advantages of sex!
Eat labour inducing foods such as those which contain basil or ginger or oregano - typical spicy foods. Pineapples, which contain the enzyme bromelain which helps ripen the cervix, is also recommended.
While long walks are welcome, try climbing up the stairs. Since the steps taken are bigger, it can help to put pressure on the cervix.
Be prepared with your hospital bag - make sure you have all your essentials packed.
Don’t physically exert yourself with any activity. Whether it’s walking or climbing up stairs or even standing, make sure you don’t exhaust yourself. You need all that energy for the bigger process coming up!
Don’t get impatient if you find that you’re not experiencing labour symptoms so close to your due date, which in itself, is an estimate.
If you decide to use a breast pump for nipple stimulation, don’t do it alone at home. Do it the under supervised care of medical professionals.
Here are some frequently asked questions regarding the 40th week of pregnancy.
What if I go past my due date?
Many women go past their due date, which is an estimate in itself. It is only if the pregnancy extends to 42 weeks or beyond, that the incidence of safe childbirth tends to decrease.
How big is my baby now?
Your baby, at this point, can weigh up to 4 kgs and be as long as 21 inches.
Would I require a Caesarean delivery?
A C-section is not really called for unless in case of medical complications such as, the baby is too big to pass through the vagina safely or the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck, and so on.
What if my baby is breech? Do I need a C-section then?
If the baby is still breech, he will not descend headfirst into the birthing canal which could lead to further problems. However, doctors usually wait to see if the baby will turn on its own during labour before opting for a C-section.
Pregnancy week 40 may seem like endless waiting for expecting mothers. The guidelines here will help you and your partner get prepared for the different symptoms you will face during this week. Enjoy these last days of your pregnancy by taking care of yourself and undergoing all the required tests in consultation with your OB.