Week 40 of Pregnancy
Your Baby in Week 40 of Pregnancy
Congratulations! This week marks the official end of your pregnancy. Your baby probably weighs anywhere from six to nine pounds and measures between 19 and 22 inches (though tons of perfectly healthy babies are smaller or bigger). The bones in his skull haven’t fused yet — Mother Nature’s way of making it easier to get through the birth canal during labor and delivery. He now has enough fat under the skin to maintain his body temperature outside the womb (with a little help from those cute outfits and swaddling blankets that you’ve been stocking up on!). You (or actually the placenta) are still providing the antibodies he’ll need to fight off infections for the first six months of his life. And if you plan on breastfeeding, your milk will be giving him more antibodies that’ll boost his immune system.
Learn more about your baby preparing for birth in week 40.
Your Body in Week 40 of Pregnancy
When will your body know it’s time to deliver this baby? Well, about half of all pregnancies go past the 40-week mark, but your baby’s birthday will absolutely be sometime in the next two weeks, as your practitioner won’t let you go longer than 42 weeks. One event that’s not guaranteed before the onset of labor is your water breaking (the rupture of membranes surrounding your baby that contain the amniotic fluid he’s been living in for the past nine months). Despite what you see in the movies, very few women experience a public water breaking. In fact, more than 85 percent of expectant moms enter the birthing room with their membranes fully intact. Even if you do end up springing a leak, it’s more likely to be a slow trickle than a big splash.
Learn more about when your water will break.
Week 40 Pregnancy Tip: Pelvis Size
Many women share an unfounded fear of not being able to actually birth their baby. It does seem implausible that something so big (a six-or-seven-plus-pound watermelon) could squeeze through such a little space, but that’s exactly what happens most of the time. Whether you’re plus-size, petite, or any size in between, it’s the size of your pelvis — not your frame — that matters. Mother Nature knows what she’s doing (for the most part), and the majority of newborns are pretty well matched to the size of their mothers (if you’re small-boned, chances are you’re not carrying sumo baby in there — unless, of course, you’ve eaten like a sumo wrestler during pregnancy). And your vagina knows what to do, too — it stretches considerably during childbirth and then, miraculously, it tightens up again. (You can help that process along by doing your Kegels faithfully both before and after you deliver.) Even your baby knows what to do — by molding his still-pliable head to fit through that tight squeeze. So don’t worry!
Learn more about your body in week 40 and labor and delivery.
Week 40 Pregnancy Symptoms
More frequent Braxton Hicks contractions: Wondering if those contractions you’re feeling this week are the practice Braxton Hicks contractions or the real thing? If they don’t increase in frequency or severity, or if they subside when you walk around or change position, then they are probably just practice contractions.
Slowdown in fetal activity: Even though your baby’s movements have slowed down, he still should be moving around in there. How much movement is normal? You should be able to count ten flutters, wiggles, or rolls in an hour.
Heartburn or indigestion: Your heartburn may be a thing of the past in a few days. In the meantime, get some relief by chewing gum after every meal (as well as popping those Tums).
Cervical dilation or effacement: Although you won’t feel your cervix opening or thinning out, it is probably happening this week. Dilation is measured in centimeters and effacement in percentages; after an internal exam, your practitioner will probably give you the measurements. The cervix will continue to dilate (and efface) through early and active labor.
Diarrhea or nausea: Your bowels take a beating during pregnancy — and it seems as if they go from one extreme (sluggish) to the other (loose). This week, loose bowel movements may be a sign that your labor is imminent. So if you have other signs — bloody show, your baby has dropped, your mucous plug has fallen out — you may be meeting your baby face-to-face soon!
Pelvic pressure and discomfort: If your baby has dropped this week, the uncomfortable feeling in your pelvis may be traced to a certain someone’s little head bumping up against your hips and bladder. If you have the time, schedule a massage with a certified prenatal massage therapist; it’ll soothe the discomfort.
Leg cramps: While no one really knows what causes those painful spasms in your legs, it’s a good bet that carrying around all that pregnancy weight (especially this week!) is a pain in the legs. When a spasm hits, gently flexing your ankle and toes back toward your shin can help.
Difficulty sleeping: As tempting as it is to try herbal supplements or other over-the-counter sleep aids, don’t. Instead, ask your partner for a relaxing massage
Fatigue or extra energy: Changes in energy level are pretty common this week. Maybe you’ve been hit by the nesting instinct or maybe you just have an urge to slump in front of the TV and veg out. Don’t worry — both are completely normal, as is alternating between the two states.