Your Baby is the size of a

Pumpkin

It’s time to meet your little one, if they haven’t graced you with their presence already! Your baby is fully cooked, and ready to go. Everyone deals with reaching this milestone differently, and everyone’s birthing experience is unique. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself, recognise how much of an amazing job you’ve done, and just embrace the emotions. We’re all proud of you, and it will all be worth it!

Week 40

Length : 51.3 cm

Weight : 3.4 kg

Week 40
Length : 51.3 cm
Weight : 3.4 kg

Your Baby is the size of a

Pumpkin

It’s time to meet your little one, if they haven’t graced you with their presence already! Your baby is fully cooked, and ready to go. Everyone deals with reaching this milestone differently, and everyone’s birthing experience is unique. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself, recognise how much of an amazing job you’ve done, and just embrace the emotions. We’re all proud of you, and it will all be worth it!

By week 40, your baby may have arrived already or be due any day this week. For 1 in 10 mums-to-be, their baby decides they don’t want to be evicted quite yet and hang on past 42 weeks.

Your baby will be at full birth weight by week 40 and can be anything from 6 to 12lbs. If you have a larger baby, it may be suggested that you are induced. The pros and cons will be discussed with you.

For smaller babies, your body is still providing all the nutrients your baby needs, as well as antibodies needed to fight infection following birth, so sit back and wait until your baby is ready. This could only be for a further week if your midwife thinks it’s safe to wait.

         

Everyone deals with reaching this milestone differently. For some, reaching their due date doesn't change anything, for others it can feel like a bit of an anticlimax. Don't worry if you are feeling a little emotional too, you are about to become a mum - it’s an emotional time.

You can use this time to perfect the little one's nursery, think about finalising baby names if you've not yet decided and get all your hospital bag contents packed and ready to go.

So when will you start feeling those all-important contractions? Some women, even when overdue, start experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions. If they don't increase in frequency and severity or go away after some light activity - they are just 'practise' ones. Once you've had Braxton Hicks, you'll know it when the real ones come, trust us!

One event however, that's not always guaranteed, are your waters breaking. Less than 8-10% of women experience a true rupture of the amniotic membrane, and if it does, it won't be that bucket-dump you see in movies. It's more like a trickle or small gush, like the little accidental wees you may have done as your pelvic floor has been weakening - except your waters will be clear and odourless!

When you're ready, your contractions are regular, and dilation has started. It's time to head to the hospital or birthing unit ready to meet your baby!

         

The final days of pregnancy are exhausting, but when you hold that little baby in the next week or so, you'll realise it was all entirely worth it. Here is a list of symptoms you may experience during week 40 as you wait for the big day.

Constipation and/or Haemorrhoids: In week 40, constipation might be getting worse again due to the pressure of the growing uterus on the intestines. This can lead to haemorrhoids, which are swollen blood vessels in the rectal area, causing discomfort and sometimes bleeding during bowel movements. Make sure you’re staying hydrated and try to get some more fibre into your diet if you’re suffering from this. Head here for more on constipation during pregnancy.

Increased Vaginal Discharge: As your body prepares for labour, you may notice an increase in vaginal discharge. This discharge, called leukorrhea, is usually thin and milky and helps to protect the birth canal from infection. Here’s everything to know about vaginal discharge.

Stretch Marks
: By week 40, your abdomen has likely expanded significantly to accommodate your growing baby, resulting in stretch marks. These pink, red, or purple streaks on the skin occur due to the stretching of the underlying tissues. They’re completely normal, but keeping up with moisturising or using stretch mark cream can help reduce the appearance.

Sweating
: Hormonal changes and increased blood flow can lead to excess sweating, particularly at night. This is your body's way of regulating its temperature during pregnancy. Here’s how to keep cool during pregnancy.

Braxton Hicks
: You may experience more frequent Braxton Hicks contractions in week 40, or experience them for the first time. These practice contractions help prepare your uterus for labour by toning the muscles, but they are typically irregular and less intense than real contractions. Consider having a cool flannel to hand by the side of the bed if you’re suffering from this. Here’s more on what to expect from contractions.

Heartburn
: As your baby grows, the uterus puts pressure on your stomach, leading to heartburn. This uncomfortable burning sensation in the chest occurs when stomach acid flows back into the oesophagus. Here’s more on heartburn during pregnancy.

Swelling or Bloating
: Swelling, especially in the feet and ankles, is common in the third trimester due to increased fluid retention. Bloating may also persist as the uterus continues to expand, putting pressure on the digestive organs. Be easy on yourself, and try elevating your feet in the evenings to ease the swelling.

Crazy Dreams
: Hormonal changes and subconscious anxieties about labour and motherhood may contribute to vivid and sometimes bizarre dreams during pregnancy, especially during these weeks. Here’s a guide to pregnancy dreams.

Interrupted Sleep
: Discomfort from heartburn, backaches, and frequent bathroom trips, can disrupt your sleep patterns in week 40, leaving you feeling fatigued during the day. Try to limit your water intake before bed if bathroom trips are keeping you up.

Nesting
: As your due date approaches, you may experience bursts of energy and an overwhelming urge to prepare for your baby's arrival. This nesting instinct can involve organising the nursery, washing baby clothes, and tidying up the home in week 40. Don’t attempt anything too energy-intensive!

Forty weeks have come and gone. You are ready. So... where is baby?

If one more person says you that you look like you are going to pop, you just might. Right? Just to shut them up! Your walk is a waddle, you probably haven't been able to give your legs a good shave in a while, and turning over in bed feels like an Olympic event.

Congratulations! You've done a magnificent job carrying your little one for nine months.

Gathering patience may seem challenging due to phone calls and questions from friends and family members, who are anxiously awaiting your little one's arrival.

Unfortunately, there is little that you can do to convince your baby to greet life on the outside. Your womb is a cosy little space with plenty of food and gentle rocking. It's the ideal place to be! There are, however, a few methods rumoured to naturally induce labour with varying degrees of success. Please speak with your midwife before taking any supplements claiming to kick-start labour.

Some experts say sex can help to induce labour! Sperm contains hormones that can help to soften the cervix, and an orgasm can cause uterine contractions. However, you should avoid sex if you have been advised to do so by your doctor or midwife, or if you believe your water has broken.

Going for a walk, or other any other gentle exercise that increases in your overall activity level, may help to induce labour as well. Just make sure you don't overdo it; and don't push beyond your comfort level. Now is not the time to start training for a road marathon! While the logistics surrounding how this works are unclear, many women claim their labour started after eating a spicy meal. Feel free to try it. But if you spend the evening with horrible heartburn and an upset stomach, it's on you.

Once you pass the 40-week mark, your doctor or midwife may speak about medical interventions for inducing labour. There are several options, from medications to breaking your water. Your doctor will inform you of the risks and benefits, and help you decide if induction is the right course for you.

It won't be long now, so hang in there! And don’t forget to write in your pregnancy journal.

         

At a Glance

  • Take it all in: You’re about to reach your due date! Don't worry if you are feeling a little emotional this week, you are about to become a mum - it’s an emotional time.
  • Check in: If this is your first baby, then you'll have an antenatal appointment this week.
  • Getting impatient: By now, you’ve likely read up on ways to bring on labour and found tips that range from sex to vindaloos!
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Louise Broadbridge

Expert Midwife

Hi, my name is Louise, I am a registered senior midwife, founder of Let's Talk Birth and Baby antenatal classes and the face behind instagram's The Honest Midwife. I have taught over 100,000 expectant parents since starting my antenatal classes which have 5* reviews.

Why not try for yourself - FREE Natural Labour & Birth Class with me?

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The information on the Your Baby Club website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always discuss any health concerns with a qualified healthcare provider and carefully review all guidance that comes with any medications or supplements before taking.