40 Weeks Pregnant
- July 15, 2021
- by Melissa Lawrence
Congratulations, mama and dada-to-be! You’ve made it to Week 40 — the week you set your eyes on since you learned you were pregnant. I gave birth to my sixth baby Bracey ten weeks ago at 30 weeks of pregnancy. And I actually never went past week 38 in my prior five pregnancies. But nevertheless, I’m finishing up this series so as to provide you with all the advice and information you might need. Hope it’s been helpful! Let’s get down to business and learn all about Week 40 of pregnancy.
40 Weeks Pregnant: Recurring Symptoms
40 Weeks Pregnant: Common Symptoms
Delivering a baby is a huge ordeal so it is entirely normal to be anxious, even if you’ve been through it already. Take a few minutes, practice some deep breathing, and clear your mind. Also, gather as much advice as you can (hint — review the other weeks of my series, smile!) and get as organized as possible in terms of your nursery essentials and hospital bag. Organization and preparation reduce stress.
When pregnant with my first child, I asked my OB-GYN “what does a contraction feel like?” “How should I know,” he replied, “I’ve never had one.” (He was a man). Not so helpful, right? In all seriousness, keep an eye out for pain and pressure that increase in intensity and don’t go away with movement. I found that contractions once they really began were so painful that there was no doubt about what they were. If you are not sure whether you are experiencing contractions, call you doctor. Describe your symptoms and get advice about how to monitor your contractions and when to come to the hospital.
Did the dams break? Nope! You’re amniotic sac just ruptured. The scientific term for water breaking is the rupture of membranes — impress your friends with that! If you are unsure as to whether you’re leaking amniotic fluid or urine, take a sniff: if it smells like ammonia, then it’s urine. Unlike urine, amniotic fluid is clear and has a slightly sweet smell. My water broke with my first baby Hedley (I gave birth less than an hour later!). I remember the quantity being about half a cup of water. So in my case, there was not a huge quantity of water, but this certainly varies. If your water has broken, the good news is that you’ll likely be giving birth within 24 hours!! See below for more detail on water breaking.
Stages of Fetal Development: Baby Growth & Size at 40 Weeks
At week 40, your baby weighs 7 to 9 pounds pounds and is 19 to 21 inches long, about the size of a pumpkin. Your baby is officially full term this week. All of their organ systems and individual organs are up and running and your baby has finished perfecting their reflexes. Simply put: your baby is ready for the world outside your uterus! The stress hormone, cortisol, is being pumped throughout your baby’s body to help them immediately adapt to the environment outside the uterus following birth.
All of your baby’s bones have been hardened, except for the skull, which remains soft and pliable and contains fontanelles (the space in between pieces of your baby’s skull). Fontanelles allow your baby to fit through your birth canal. Some babies may have a cone shaped head after birth as a result of being squeezed. Don’t worry, your baby’s skull will return to normal shortly. Despite all the fanfare surrounding week 40, there is a chance that your baby may not make their appearance this week. After all, only 4% of babies are actually born on their due date!
Fun (or not so Fun!) Fact About Pregnancy
During pregnancy and especially while breastfeeding, your breasts may grow unevenly.
Right after your little one is born, in the normal course of things, your doctor will place the baby right on your chest. This practice of skin to skin or “kangaroo care” is considered to help start a lifelong bond between you and your baby and to encourage breastfeeding. Even with my little premie Bracey, born at only 30 weeks of pregnancy at a mere 3.3 pounds, the doctors put him immediately on my chest. We continued to practice kangaroo care with Bracey during his six weeks at the NICU.
At 1 minute post birth and 5 minutes post birth, your baby will undergo a newborn assessment called the APGAR test, which is a simple evaluation of your baby’s health. The APGAR looks at appearance, pulse, grimace — meaning responsiveness to stimulation, activity and respiration, rating each of these considerations on a scale of 0-2. If your child receives a score of 7 or higher, they are doing well and are healthy. Just a side note: don’t worry if your child doesn’t get a 10, which is pretty rare. If your child receives a score lower than 7, they will be monitored closely or will receive emergency medical care (and even be taken to the NICU, as were two of my six children, Beckett (my third boy who was born at 36 weeks and had immature lungs and trouble breathing, and Bracey). Here’s a quick guide to what the APGAR test measures:
Your Pregnancy at 40 Weeks: Prenatal Appointments
You undoubtedly will be meeting with your doctor this week to see what is up! Here are the prenatal tests that remain available to you at week 40 of pregnancy:
Week by Week Pregnancy Food Guide
Please check out Week 4 and Week 5 or a thorough guide on which foods to consume and which foods to avoid during pregnancy! Take a look below and check back in each week for a healthy pregnancy recipe.
Quick, Healthy Snack Tip
Pita Nachos: Cut whole wheat pita slices into wedge shapes and broil until golden. Top with sliced cheddar and salsa and broil until the cheddar melts. Sprinkle with chopped scallions. (OneIngredientChef)
Why Scallions? Scallions may be an afterthought in this recipe, but the health benefits they bring surely stand front and center. Scallions — or green onions — are pungent veggies that contain 2x the amount of Vitamin K you need daily, as well as Vitamin C, folate, and fiber. Vitamin K is great for helping blood clotting and encourages bones to be strong. Scallions have also been shown to prevent cancer growth, keep you feeling full, and lower your cholesterol!
How Many Weeks in 9 Months?
Despite the imprecise math surrounding this issue (!), 40 weeks equals 9 months or more. If people ask, you most certainly can respond that you are 9 months pregnant! The big day is fast approaching.
Week 40 Pregnancy Checklist
- Keep an eye out for the signs of labor
- Know when you need to head to the hospital
- Prepare and freeze some meals for later
- Go on a walk or get some form of exercise
- Relax and get lots of rest — you’ll need the energy to go through labor
- Schedule your week 41 prenatal appointment (just in case)
- Purchase a waterproof mattress cover for your bed
- What to Expect & What to Expect When You’re Expecting – 5th Edition (2016)
- The Bump
- Baby List
- The Mama Natural Week to Week Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth (2017)
- Mayo Clinic’s Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy – Second Edition (2018)
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists