40 weeks pregnant, you may be impatient or worried or probably both. It is definitely time to start learning about giving birth and preparing your birth plan if you haven’t already.
Your baby is ready to be born, but that doesn’t mean labor will start when you want it to. Many moms will have to wait another week or two. Tired of waiting? Learn about inducing labor naturally here.
Week 39 | All Weeks of Pregnancy
What to Expect at 40 Weeks Pregnant
In this article…
How Many Months is 20 Weeks Pregnant?
You got to the end of month 9 of your pregnancy journey. However, the exact time of your baby’s arrival might not always be as expected (unless you’re having a planned c-section, of course). Many babies will either show up before or even after the predicted due date, with very few actually being born exactly on time.
Do not get anxious if you have reached the magical 40-week mark and are still waiting for your new baby. Remember that your baby will enter the world when ready, and not a moment before!
Actually, the way we calculate due date may not be completely correct, as research has shown it to vary. Already in 1990 (reference below), researchers re-examined the length of pregnancy for American women. Results indicated that for first-time Caucasian moms, an average pregnancy lasts 274 days from conception (i.e., approximately 288 days from the first day of your last period). That is 41 weeks, not 40 weeks!
Second-time Caucasian moms gave birth approximately 269 days after conception, which is a few days after the end of week 40. Non-Caucasian moms had slightly shorter pregnancies. For example, the average pregnancy for African-American women was 266 days, counted from conception.
Either way, you can be certain that a few weeks from now, you will NOT be pregnant anymore!
Your Baby at 40 Weeks
How Big is my Baby at 40 Weeks?
A big week for mom and maybe for baby. However, it’s not unlikely that your baby will sail through this week, completely ignoring the fact that this is supposed to be the last week of pregnancy! But if labor starts, your baby is definitely ready to be born!
Depending on your own genetics and body composition, your baby’s weight as a full-term infant will be from somewhere close to 7 pounds (3 kg) and above. Some babies are born smaller, while others can tip the scales at 9 or even 10 pounds (4-4.5 kg). Estimating an unborn baby’s size can be tricky. While doctors can use ultrasound measurements and other estimation methods, the baby’s true weight will not be known until they actually arrive.
It is also not easy to exactly estimate your baby’s length. But it is probably somewhere between 19 and 22 inches (48 and 56 cm). However, some healthy babies are born bigger or smaller than this.
To visualize how big your baby is at this point, imagine a pumpkin because that is how big the baby is approximately when you are 40 weeks pregnant.
What Does my Baby Look Like at 40 Weeks Pregnant?
Your baby now looks like a newborn that you will get to meet in person soon.
After you give birth, you’ll notice your baby’s body is covered in leftover blood, amniotic fluid, as well as lanugo (the thin, soft hair), and vernix (the waxy, white substance). The amount of it that will be found on the body is different from baby to baby.
One thing that’s certain, is that if your baby is born vaginally, he or she will not look like the cute newborn babies you’ve seen in movies. Instead, they are likely to have a cone-shaped head, due to the fontanels adjusting to make the birth easier. Read all about newborn baby appearance here.
40 weeks pregnant, there is practically no room left in your uterus for your baby, and you may feel more pressure as your baby stretches and continues to move within. Some will say that your baby’s movements will slow down during this time due to lack of space, but you should still be able to feel regular movements each day.
Your medical practitioner may have you keep a record of counted movements to ensure regular activity during this time in your pregnancy.
Mom’s Body When 40 Weeks Pregnant
Many women find themselves extremely uncomfortable now and are unable to do many daily tasks easily, such as tying their shoes, carrying groceries, or even climbing a short stair.
Remember that the end is near!
Isn’t it fascinating how big your pregnant belly can get? It is magnificent how much your body can adjust to create room and a safe home for your little miracle to grow big and healthy.
Heavy and uncomfortable. Impatient and nervous. 40 weeks pregnant, you may feel a variety of emotions that continue to build as you prepare for giving birth.
The uncomfortable symptoms that started some time ago, such as swelling, hemorrhoids, heartburn, trouble sleeping, pelvic pain, and other pains and aches, might all still be present, and you are ready for it to go away.
You might be thinking about labor, how it will all look and feel, and how you’ll know it is starting. Maybe you have been experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions for some time now. Some women might not even notice those or be unsure about whether they have experienced them or not.
These are false, practice contractions. But how can you be sure if the contractions are real or not?
True contractions start as irregular but become regular and predictable with time. They increase in frequency, duration, and interval and don’t stop even when you rest, sleep, or change positions. They will also become stronger and more painful with time. If you think you are having true contractions, contact your doctor.
There are also other signs that the labor is approaching, some of which might have already started in your case. Or maybe they haven’t. Every pregnancy and every woman’s body are different.
One of the signs that the labor is near is lightening or engaging. That means that the baby dropped lower into your pelvis. The labor is approaching, but it can be hours, days, or even weeks away if the baby engaged earlier.
For birth to happen, effacement and dilation of the cervix must take place. Effacement is the softening, shortening, and thinning of the cervix in preparation for birth. Dilation is the opening of the cervix. Both of these processes might happen slowly over the weeks for some women, while for some it happens quickly during labor.
As the labor start is nearing, you might experience more cramping or lower back pain. Some women might also experience diarrhea.
If you notice a thick, jelly-like, usually creamy or yellowish-white, pink, or slightly bloody substance, it means you lost your mucus plug. The mucus plug is a protective collection of mucus in your cervical canal that protects the fetus from infections.
Losing your mucus plug signals that the labor might start soon. However, depending on when it is expelled, the labor can be hours or days away. The plug may come out at once, or you might notice it happening gradually. Some women lose their mucus plug shortly before the labor starts. Each woman’s body is different, so you may find that your mucus plug is expelled early, or you may not notice it at all.
The most famous sign, besides contractions, that you usually see in the movies is your water breaking. However, that is one of the final signs of labor you might experience. Keep in mind that only 15% of women experience their water breaking before the labor starts. The rest might experience it during the labor, during the delivery, or even preterm in some cases.
The rupture of the amniotic sac is usually felt as a steady trickle or a gush of fluid. This fluid is usually clear and odorless. It might be tinged with blood or mucus.
If you notice it is brown or green, contact your doctor. It might mean that your baby already had the first bowel movement.
Things to Do and Buy This Week
Wondering about what your body will be like after pregnancy? Read about the post-pregnancy body here.
Some women will be impatient and want to try to get labor started through natural methods. Although there may be some things you can try, nothing is guaranteed, but it may be fun to see if one activity will work over another if you have been waiting for some time.
Nipple stimulation, walking, intercourse, and even acupuncture or homeopathic methods are just a few options that women have tried in the past, some with positive results. If you want to learn more about naturally induced labor, here are tips on several ways to get labor started..
Do not try any self-induction methods on your own without first asking your doctor or midwife if it is OK. While some options may seem harmless enough, you should always check with your doctor before consuming cod liver oil or any herbal remedies in order to speed up the birthing process.
While waiting, you can spend some time preparing by reading about giving birth or taking care of your baby, for example.
Week 40 Pregnancy Video
Diary of a Daughter
What’s it really like being 40 weeks pregnant…? Here’s a true diary from a mom who should have been 40 weeks pregnant. (Me..!) (You can read in the earlier weeks why I gave birth before this week. )
My daughter is soon two weeks old and still very sleepy. But wonderful :-)
My belly is becoming smaller, but I still look a bit pregnant! But hey, I’m a NEW MOM – soooooo cool!
Are you also 40 weeks pregnant? Please share your experiences and thoughts by leaving a comment below!
Prepare for Giving Birth
- How to induce labor naturally
- Why does labor have to hurt
- Newborn baby appearance – not as cute as in the commercials…
Week 39 | All Weeks of Pregnancy
- Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy
- Joanne Stone MD and Keith Eddleman MD, The Pregnancy Bible: Your Complete Guide to Pregnancy and Early Parenthood
- Nilsson, L; Hamberger, L. A Child Is Born
- Soderberg, L., Mammapraktika. B Wahlstroms.
- Mittendorf et al (1990), The Length of Uncomplicated Human Gestation, Obstetrics & Gynecology, V.75, N.6, June 1990