40 Weeks Pregnant: Dilation, Discomfort and your Due Date

What to expect at 40 weeks pregnant. Everything you need to know to get through your final week of pregnancy and prepare to meet your baby.

40 weeks pregnant – congratulations, you’re in your final week! In just a few days, all of the aches, pains and waiting will be over and you’ll get to meet your bouncing baby.

At 40 weeks pregnant, the most important stage is any day now – labour. You should spend this week relaxing and restoring your energy levels in anticipation for the big day, while doing all you can to ease any symptoms that may cause you discomfort as you wait.

Read on to learn about what to expect at 40 weeks of pregnancy, how to prepare for your labour and ways to make the last few days of pregnancy a little easier.

Think you missed something? Read up on everything you can expect at 39 weeks pregnant or head over to our pregnancy week-by-week guide for details at every stage of your pregnancy.

Your Baby at 40 Weeks Pregnant

Fully grown and ready for the world, at 40 weeks your baby will measure up at anywhere between 19 and 22 inches long, and will be roughly the size of a watermelon!

Along with your baby comes the umbilical cord, which is around twenty inches long. Don’t panic if it is in an awkward position during labour or ends up around your baby’s neck; your midwife will help to ensure that it doesn’t harm your baby during delivery. Once the cord has been clamped, all that will be left is your little one’s belly button.

At 40 weeks pregnant your baby has a fully functioning body, although their eyesight will be blurry when it arrives so be sure to say hello when you first meet. She will recognise your voice after all those months spent in your tummy, and your partner’s too!

Your Body at 40 Weeks Pregnant

While you may feel ready to say goodbye to nine months of pregnancy, your little one might have other ideas! If you are pregnant past your due date then don’t worry; 30 percent of pregnancies last longer than 40 weeks, and your midwife won’t let you remain pregnant past 42 weeks. Hang in there!

As you go into labour your water will break; this is your body’s way of letting you know that you are ready to deliver. Don’t worry about the dramatized deliveries you have seen on TV. In reality, fewer than 15 percent of mothers experience a rupture of the amniotic sac before labour really begins. Be sure to remember that amniotic fluid is normally clear and odourless – not to be mistaken for urine. Also, if your water does break and the liquid appears to be a greeny-brown colour, call your midwife as your baby may have had a bowel movement in utero.

At 40 weeks pregnant you are at your largest, and the idea of pushing out something so big can seem impossible. But don’t panic; your body is capable of amazing things, and your vagina will naturally stretch and contract to deliver your baby successfully. To keep your vaginal muscles strong, try doing your Kegel exercises before and after delivery.

Finally, don’t worry if your tummy still looks pregnant after you give birth. It can take six weeks for your body to bounce back, but it will! Keep doing gentle exercise and eating well, and you’ll be back to normal in no time.

Pregnancy Symptoms at 40 Weeks 

Dilation

You may not feel it, but at 40 weeks pregnant your cervix will be opening and thinning out in preparation for delivering your baby. While your midwife will be able to measure you prior to delivery, dilation will begin right from the early stages of labour.

Your Baby’s Movement

With only a few days to go, your baby will be moving around lots this week. This is a good sign, and it can be helpful to track your baby’s movements to ensure that he or she is happy. 10 flutters, wiggles or rolls an hour at 40 weeks is relatively normal.

Pain

Muscle cramps and pelvic pain is to be expected this week, as your baby is at its heaviest weight and pushing right against your pelvis. If you have time, a prenatal massage is effective in soothing this discomfort. Being comfortable is important at 40 weeks pregnant as you need to sleep as much as possible to store up enough energy for your labour.

Nesting

Overwhelmed with a sudden urge to scrub the kitchen floor? These peaks in energy levels are to be expected in your final week, as your hormones are telling you to prepare for your little one’s arrival. Just make sure that you aren’t carrying out any strenuous activity or exercise and get as much rest as possible.

For more information on development and milestones at every stage of your pregnancy, visit our pregnancy week by week page.

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