40 Weeks Pregnant: Fetal Development and Natural Birth

Overview

At 40 weeks pregnant, you are now at the final week of your pregnancy. Congratulations!

At this point, your baby weighs 6 to 9 pounds and measure 19 to 22 inches, same in size to a small pumpkin.

You and your little one are certainly ready to meet each other at 40 weeks pregnant.

How’s the Baby this Week

40 weeks pregnant

At 40 weeks pregnant, he is still curled up inside your uterus. Your baby continues to remove vernix caseosa or the white and greasy fluid that serves as the protection on his skin. He’s gaining more weight as he stays inside your womb, making it heavier to carry around (boys are heavier than girls). You baby has 15% layers of fat which can help him warm his body when on the outside. The main organs and his body systems are all ready to function well on the outside world. Your baby should be on a head-down position to start for delivery.

The bones are now hard, but not his skull bone, which is good to make it easier to overlap, passing through the birth canal (skull bone will eventually become hard over time). Because of this, your baby’s head may take a shape of cone for the first several days and the process is called molding. But it will still return to its normal shape.

The two soft spot of your baby’s skull bone is called fontanelles which functions to easily slip during delivery. His front fontanelle, another soft spot, will become hard from 8 and 15 months after birth. On the other hand, the fontanelle at the back part of his skull bone will become hard between the 3rd and the 4th month.

While at the final week of your pregnancy, the baby is more than ready to be born, same to you to give birth. Your baby’s eyes cannot still see more clearly, only around 2.5cm. But babies can recognize their parent’s voice when they talk to them following the weeks of pregnancy. On the first days after birth, your baby will still adopt his fetal positions.

How’s Your Body this Week

Your due date may have gone pass, and may be feeling tired of waiting and becoming more frustrated because your baby is still not out yet. There are still a couple of weeks (at 42 weeks) to consider your pregnancy as post-term, so you should not worry. However, your health care provider may discuss some options that will help understand your condition. But still, you are not considered late!

Your midwife may recommend you to undergo a sweep, in which the midwife will conduct internal examination on you. Using her fingers to sweep your cervix, she will try to loosen your membranes to release prostaglandins hormones, which will get you to start your labor. Another option to be offered to you is to get induced, an artificial method of labor.

Even if this has been the final week of your pregnancy (still not overdue), body discomfort and achiness will still continue. The pain increases on your pelvic area, backache as well as the feeling of heaviness. This will keep you from sleeping soundly at night and again Braxton Hicks contractions will still frequently kick in intensely. If they bother you so much, take a warm shower or change, always change, your position to relieve from pain.

You may also feel sensitive, irritable and restless. Your hands and feet may be all swollen. To ease it, try not to stand for a long period of time. You already know that giving birth is painful and may wonder how you will respond to it. This will make you more worried and gives you more restless thoughts. Talk to your midwife regarding how you will handle it. She may offer you effective pain relief options.

Things to Do at 40 Weeks Pregnant

Monitor baby

While this is the final time of your pregnancy, make sure that you still and regularly monitor your baby inside you. Keep track of your baby’s activity and movements, including his kicks. Once you notice that he is making lesser movements than normal, inform your health care provider regarding it.

Double check things

This is also the best time to recheck your things such as your hospital bags, the necessities of your newborn and yours, and emergency contact list. If you are having normal vaginal delivery, it may only take you three days in the hospital. So, you should only pack fewer things. Choose clothing that is comfortable and easy to put on. If you are breastfeeding your newborn, bring one with front openings.

If you don’t want to breastfeed, you should already have formula and feeding equipment ready. Make sure that the bottles and teats are washed and sterilized well. However, most doctors will go against this choice.

On your phone’s contact list, include your midwife, your husband and the person who will take care of your children while you are in the hospital. You may also check your car and must have a full fuel tank. Make sure that you have all the things you need before you indulge yourself on some relaxations.

Stay calm

If you have still enough time, use that time to relax and calm yourself rather than be scared and worry about when will your water break (imagining the embarrassment when it breaks in front of many people or while you are out shopping). It is not true that water breaks come like a flowing water faucet. If you experience water break in the crowded street or place, it is more like a slow leak or a small gush.

For physical relaxation, use your knowledge on breathing techniques that you learned from your childbirth classes. This will keep you from being nervous and overly excited, and as well relieve you of pregnancy discomforts. You may feel like the waiting game makes you feel tired and impatient. But, spending time with your family and friends will prevent you from experiencing these things.

Final word

Now that you’re 40 weeks pregnant, you might be in mixed emotions — the excitement, the nervousness, anxiety and the happiness to meet your little bundle of joy. Don’t rush. Try to enjoy the last moment that your baby is staying inside your womb.

Stephanie
 

Editor in Babiology, mother of two, highly passionate about sharing the pregnancy care and post delivery care learning with the readers.

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