Baby Growth at 40 Weeks Pregnant
Congratulations, you are well into your final month of your pregnancy, month 9! If you haven’t already given birth, don’t worry, your time will come soon enough. And if you have passed your due date and are stressing, hang in there! In fact, 30% of pregnancies go past the 40 week mark. What’s important to remind yourself is your baby has reached full term and is fully grown – now that is an accomplishment! When your baby does arrive, their head may appear slightly pointed after delivery due to the passage through the birth canal; again this is completely normal and will reshape itself in the hours and days to come.
Your baby is now the size of a small pumpkin weighing roughly 8 pounds and reaching approximately 20 inches, which you could have probably guessed given the strain on your back. During this time it’s important to note that your baby will be born with a red or purple skin tint as her blood circulation is still maturing at week 40.
Because your baby's blood circulation is still maturing, after birth, their hands and feet may remain this purple/bluish color for several hours to days. This will change with time, and over the next six months, your baby's skin will develop into its permanent color.
You And Your Body at Pregnancy 40 Weeks
At this time your cervix will start preparing for birth or may have already. Due to the loss of your cervical mucus plug, you may experience some bloody discharge. Your cervix is actually opening and thinning (called effacement) to prepare itself for delivery day, and the cervix will continue to dilate until labor day. Unfortunately, you might also experience some labor pains so focusing on breathing techniques to get through those painful moments is crucial.
You may also be wondering when your water will break and if you are a first time mother, what the sensation of water breaking feels like. Unlike the movies where a woman’s water breaks during a dramatic scene with gushing water, your water breaking will most likely appear as a small gush or slow leakage of water that may or may not be associated with contractions.
A key way to tell if your amniotic sac has ruptured is checking if the fluid is colorless and odorless. If the fluid looks yellowish and smells of ammonia, then it is most likely just urine leaking. If your water breaks with brown or green fluid, make sure to call your practitioner as this could mean that your baby has had a bowel movement, releasing that sticky meconium prematurely into their amniotic fluid and your doctor will want to know in case interventions need to be made.
At the 40 week mark, your doctor may check your cervix to see if it's "ripening." Your cervical position, degree of softness, thickness, and dilation are all key indicators when determining how your labor will be induced if needed. You also may deny this exam if you choose to. You may be induced if you don't go into labor on your own by 41-42 weeks, but talk to your doctor about what your desires are so they can best meet your birthing desires and needs.
Typical Symptoms at 40 Weeks Pregnant
Common symptoms include Braxton Hicks contractions, leg pain and cramps, fatigue, pelvic discomfort and pressure, sharp pains, insomnia, contractions, anxiety, and a “nesting” urge. All of which are completely normal as you've reached a baby’s official deadline. If you are still waiting for your newborn to enter the world, keep reminding yourself that you haven’t got much longer now. You’ve made it this far, what is a couple more days?
As you are so close to labor, watch for these symptoms that can be key indicators of your baby’s arrival:
- Thick mucus, possibly with a tinge of blood (mucus plug released)
- Water breaking
- More frequent and more intense contractions
- Back pain
Along with these symptoms that occur prior to giving birth, you may also experience several symptoms post labor including weight loss, bloody discharge (formed from uterine lining), and a range of emotions (sometimes called “baby blues”). Your body will be sore in places you never quite thought possible but holding your little angel in your arms for the first time makes it all worth it. With the combination of excitement, discomfort, joy and hormonal changes you may feel a range of emotions as your body adjusts to having your baby earth-side. It’s perfectly normal to feel weepy and elated at the same time, however, never hesitate to reach out to your partner or doctor should you start to feel concerned about your mood.
Pregnancy Week 40 Tips and Advice
At this point you are probably thinking about how to naturally induce labor as you are more than ready to meet your little one!
You might consider taking long walks and having more sex, although there is little evidence to support that any natural induction methods actually work, though it might be worth a shot! You can even try relaxing and get acupuncture done to encourage the labor process, but check with your doctor first. Keep up with your doctor’s visits and keep yourself busy as you’re waiting for your baby. Many babies extend past the estimated due date, especially if you are a first time mother.
Other things to consider to be as prepared as possible for birth are to make sure your car is full of gas if you’re making that hospital trip, or that your transportation preference is in place. Install your baby’s car seat and pack your hospital bag.
You are so close to the finish line so the big question is: have you decided on any baby names? If not, now is the time to get brainstorming! You have been through so much and it can be very stressful if your baby still hasn’t arrived. Do things that will keep you busy and calm such as kicking back and watching TV, reading a good book, taking naps during the day, and speaking to close friends and family members. You’re almost there!
If you are still worrying why your baby passed their due date, here is some advice that could relieve some anxiety. There is no one specific reason why! This can happen with first-time pregnancies or if you had a previous pregnancy where your child arrived later than anticipated. It could also simply run in your family. The baby’s sex can even affect this as some believe boys are more likely to arrive later compared to girls. And most common, confusion over your last period date can thus lead to miscalculation of your due date, which means your baby isn’t even late at all! Remember, your baby’s due date is an estimation, not an expiration date. We hope this provides you some peace of mind. Think of a flower garden, you may plant all the seeds on the exact same day but each flower will not bloom on the same day, this is just like your due date.
After delivery, be sure to care for yourself and ensure you are fed and hydrated just like your baby, get plenty of rest whenever you are able and consider taking the baby in ‘shifts’ with your partner to sock away a few consolidated hours of sleep. Further, limit visitors while you get back on track (unless they are there to help, keep visits brief and to a minimum), drink plenty of fluids to keep your body hydrated and healthy, and always accept help when needed. Never be afraid to ask directly for exactly what you need help with; many people are willing to help but unsure how to best serve you. This is a massive transition period, give yourself and your partner grace as you navigate this new adventure, you’re doing great mom!