It’s finally here! You’re at the final line right now, and at 40 weeks you should be expecting your baby to arrive imminently. There’s not much going on this week that you haven’t seen before, apart from the excitement of a baby that’s completely ready to be born as soon as your body decides to let go of it. That means that this is probably going to be a busy week, with a lot of last minute preparations to deal with and a lot of things that need finalizing before your baby arrives at last. It’s an exciting time, and your journey is about to end at last!
How big is a 40 week baby?
At 40 weeks, your baby is somewhere around 20 inches long, and weighs somewhere around 7 to 8 lbs. That’s about the size of a newborn baby! There’s not much spare room left in your womb, so you should be able to tell pretty much where every major body part of your baby is at this point. Head, feet and hands are all pressing up against the inside of your bump, and you can probably feel them from outside at this point!
Your baby at 40 weeks pregnant
Your baby won’t be doing a lot of growing at 40 weeks, because there’s no room left in your womb for the baby to grow! It’s reached the size of a newborn baby, and things are getting pretty snug in your womb, so it’s definitely for the best that growth plateaus at this point! There are a couple of interesting things going on at this point, though, even if the baby isn’t really growing much, so let’s take a look at those.
At 40 weeks, your baby has a full skeleton. Almost all of those bones have hardened and solidified, except for their ends. The ends of your baby’s bones are still separate, which means that they can grow longer easily, and they’ll stay that way for a surprisingly long time. The really disconcerting thing, though, is that the baby’s skull is still soft and rubbery. That means that the head can squish a bit in order to make its way out of the birth canal without too much difficulty. That’s why a lot of babies have weirdly pointy, cone shaped heads shortly after birth – it’s because the head has been squeezed into a different shape during birth! But don’t worry about that; it’ll round out to a normal skull shape soon enough, and your baby won’t be stuck with a funny shaped head for very long. It’ll stay a bit soft and squishy for a while longer than you might expect, but it’ll solidify and harden in the end, making your baby’s head properly protected once it’s outside the safety of your womb.
The one thing that’s still growing at a high speed at 40 weeks pregnant is your baby’s fingernails and toenails. The rest of the baby’s growth might have slowed down completely, but those tiny little talons are still growing! You’ll want to clip them after the baby is born, as they can get surprisingly long and sharp if left unchecked!
Your body at 40 weeks pregnant
At 40 weeks, there aren’t all that many symptoms that will be new to you. You’ve been through pretty much everything over the last 40 weeks, and you’ve run the full gauntlet of weird, wild or gross symptoms. There are a few things you may well still be dealing with, though, so we’ll go through those briefly.
Your body may still be trying to get some last minute practice for labor in, even at this late a stage. You may well still be experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions, as your belly tightens up every so often in practice for the real thing. Soon enough, though, these should turn into the real thing, which will prepare your cervix for your baby’s big trip down the birth canal.
At this point, you might well find that your boobs are leaking quite a bit. That’s perfectly normal, and it’s entirely reasonable to wear nursing pads before your baby arrives. The leakage isn’t actually milk at this point, it’s colostrum, which is a sort of pre-milk liquid. It’s a yellowish substance that feeds your baby for the first few days, until the baby’s sucking motions trigger your normal breast milk to start flowing. So don’t worry if the liquid flowing out of your nipples doesn’t look like normal, healthy milk at this stage!
You’re also probably going to find that you’re just generally quite uncomfortable. When you’re 40 weeks pregnant, there’s a lot going on in your body, and a lot of it is not a great deal of fun. Everything hurts a bit, and you might have backaches, hip pain, pelvic discomfort, and headaches all going on at this point. The good news is that there’s not long left to go, and you won’t have to put up with this for much longer. The bad news is that there’s not much you can do about it at this point. Stretch regularly, do your best to find a comfortable position to lie down in, and keep your feet raised as much as possible while taking breaks (which should be frequent). You’re nearly there, and there’s not much longer that you’ll have to put up with this for!
By this stage in your pregnancy journey, there’s not much spare room in your belly. You’re basically completely full, and have probably gained somewhere between 25 and 35 lbs through the last 40 weeks. Your baby should still be moving around inside you at this point, but it might not be kicking quite as powerfully and energetically as it was a few weeks ago. That’s just because there’s not much room available in there for it to kick in! Keep on counting your baby’s kicks though, and if you notice any sudden change in the regularity of its movements, then call your doctor.
If you’ve seen no signs of your baby’s arrival yet, then you might be feeling a little on edge, but most babies are born at week 40 or potentially 41. It’s very rare for babies to hand on in there longer than 42 weeks, and most OBs will recommend a medical induction at the 41 week mark anyway. That depends on your OB and on how both you and your baby are doing, so it’s something to discuss in person at an appointment. Either way, your baby is only a matter of days away, and you won’t have to hang on for very long at all.
What to do if your baby doesn’t arrive on the due date
Chances are, you’ve been so focused on your due date for so long that you might not have spent much time thinking about what might happen if you go past it with no sign of your baby’s arrival at all. There are a few different things you might want to try out in this case. Let’s have a look at those.
First up, let’s look at three easy methods that anyone can try. How about exercise? It’s not proven to reliably induce labor, but a brisk walk is often thought to help things along a bit. Try going for a fast walk around the block, but don’t wander too far away from home, just in case it starts everything off a bit too efficiently!
There’s also no definitive evidence that sex induces labor effectively, but hey – it can’t hurt to try, can it? And besides, you might have a bit of fun in the process. While there’s no clear evidence that orgasms or sperm make much difference, one recent study indicated that women who had frequent sex past the 36 week mark were more likely to deliver their babies on time rather than going past the due date and needing an induction. It might be worth a shot!
If you’re into acupuncture, then, there’s a chance this method might help to kick start your labor. Check with your doctor before you try this, and obviously only do it if you’re into acupuncture in general, but it might help. Studies have had mixed results on this front, and acupuncture is not everybody’s cup of tea, but if it’s your thing then it might be a good option.
How about some slightly more intense options that you might need to take care with? Nipple stimulation is known for being a very efficient and effective option – perhaps a little too efficient for most people! This method can cause contractions to come on powerfully and efficiently, so maybe you should get to the hospital first before trying out nipple stimulation to induce labor!
The big thing you should always do at this point, though, is to keep yourself busy. If you’ve got plenty of things to do, then you won’t get stressed so easily. The baby will arrive whenever it’s ready to, and you might want to deal with a whole bunch of last minute jobs before that happens.