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40 Weeks Pregnant

Updated on August 21, 2011

If you've reached 40 weeks pregnant, you're likely to go into labor at any time. Although some women do go beyond this stage, most will either have already delivered or will do so in the next couple of weeks. Make sure that you know what to expect, what the signs of early labor are and as with the previous few weeks - make sure your bag is packed!

It's amazing how many expectant parents forget about the hospital bag and end up doing it at the last moment. Make sure you're fully prepared. After all - you've had nine months to get ready for the labor and delivery aspect of your pregnancy!

Being 40 weeks pregnant means one thing - you're now classed as 'full term pregnant'. However, the fact is your body will enter into labor as and when it's good and ready. And that should be anytime within the next couple of weeks. What’s worth bearing in mind is the fact that there are only around 5% of pregnant women that actually deliver on their due date. Another interesting piece of information is that over 90% of pregnant women give birth within a fortnight either side of their expected date of delivery.

And I know you’ll be tired of the weight, the worry, the aches, pains and a myriad of other pregnancy niggles but ... honestly … you’re almost there. The waiting is often worse than the actual labor (I’m not kidding!) because you’re in ‘anticipatory mode’. At least when your labor begins, you’ll know that within a few hours, you’ll be safely delivered, babe in arms, the joys of motherhood in front of you and just as wonderful – you’ll have your body back!

Of course you may be tempted to naturally induce labor – I was with my last pregnancy – but I’m a big advocate for leaving nature be. Your baby will come when he’s ready. If you go into labor tonight, or two weeks from now … then you, your body and your baby will be working as nature intended. That said, there’s always the possibility that you may require medical intervention to stimulate your labor, especially if you reach 42 weeks pregnant and there are still no signs of labor on the horizon.

40 Weeks Pregnant

But – once you're past 40 weeks pregnant, that’s a decision that will be made with regard to the well being of your baby and you. The the decision will be undertaken by your anti-natal team, along with your input. I found myself in this position with my daughter. I was almost three weeks over my due date and I was starting to struggle. My daughter was laid in the wrong position and there wasn’t a whiff of a labor sign in site. However, having been closely examined, we knew she was perfectly fine where she was. I went home from the hospital and went into labor that night – naturally.

Labor and delivery aside, at least there’s a positive. By this stage in your pregnancy, your weight will have pretty much reached a plateau. Understandably, you’ll be struggling to move with any real ease now – you’re baby may be lying awkward, or he may in fact be presenting for birth. Unfortunately, that can often cause you to feel a lot of pressure in your pubic region, which is often rather uncomfortable and can be quite unpleasant at times.

You’ll also find that you’re given a thorough check-up, with regard to how you and your baby are. It’s prudent to keep a closer eye on things once you've reached this stage, because there are occasions when labor doesn't occur naturally. And don’t be alarmed if this happens to you – there are many reasons that precede a medically induced labor and it doesn't always mean that something's terribly wrong, just that things need to be 'moved along'.

Fetal Development


40 Weeks Gestation

The fetal development of your baby puts him at around 20 inches in length, give or take and somewhere between 6 and 9 lbs in weight. As always, this is a guide as babies can vary quite wildly in length and weight, even when full term. Otherwise, your baby is fully prepared for life beyond the womb.

He can suck, grip, blink and react to touch. Once he’s born, all his other motor skills will kick in – the first of which you’ll probably be aware of will be his ability to cry. Hopefully he’s fully engaged, presenting head down, in the fetal position, ready to be born. You may notice that his movements aren’t as vigorous but he can still surprise you by turning bodily or with a swift kick in the ribs!

40 Weeks Pregnant – In General


Being 40 weeks pregnant causes many a woman to feel anxious. If you can, try to push any anxious thoughts away and simply relax and enjoy the time between now and your baby’s arrival. You will need all the rest you can get, partly for the birth, as it will take a lot of energy but also because once you’ve delivered, you’ll be in for a lot of sleepless nights.

If you do feel anxious to the point you’re feeling stressed out, share your worries and concerns. Talk to your partner, family or friends. Many of us have been through this and will know exactly how you’re feeling. All women become understandably anxious as their due date approaches – you really won’t be the first, or the last, to feel this way.

If you go into birth soon after reading this – remember … it’s a natural process and your body was designed to cope with what’s ahead. Try to let go of the worry and fear and go with your instincts. And sincerely … the very best of good wishes!


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