When you’re 40 weeks pregnant, you’re at the very end of your pregnancy. Your baby is ready to come out into the world and can make an appearance at any time now. Your body has done all it can to nourish him and now awaits the telltale signs that he’s making an entrance.

Proceed below to find out what the baby is doing at this time and how your body is holding up. You will also find a checklist to ensure you’ve got all the essentials to welcome your baby home.

40 weeks pregnant in months

At 40 weeks pregnant, you have completed nine months carrying and nourishing your baby.

Your baby at week 40 of pregnancy

At this point in time, your baby has developed plenty to enable it to survive in the outside world with your guidance. The rest of the development will continue outside of your womb. There are still a few things going on, though.

How big is your baby at 40 weeks pregnant?

When you’ve done the full nine months, your baby is at the length and weight it will be when you push it out into the world. The baby is about a half meter in length, which is around 19 to 21 inches.

The fetal weight is about 6.75 to 10 pounds or 3 to 4 and a half kilograms. This means that your baby is about the same size as it was last week, resembling a mini watermelon.

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Pregnancy week 40 fetal development

At the very end of your pregnancy, the bones of the baby have become hard except for those that make up the skull. The bones remain pliable so that they can fit through the birth canal when you are giving birth. It’s because of this that your newborn’s skull might be a bit point when you have just given birth.

Apart from the hardening of the bones, the brain is also still growing and developing at a fast pace so that the baby can handle life out of the uterus. Everything else is pretty much developed and the baby can flex the limbs every now and then.

Your body at week 40 of pregnancy

Not much has changed since the 39th week of your pregnancy. You might start to feel a few new symptoms and notice a few changes in your body as your expected due date approaches.

40 weeks pregnant belly

Your belly is distended to the maximum as the uterus occupies all the space it can to hold the developed baby. Your stretch marks have been around for a while now and you are now probably used to them.

For some women, there's a possibility of developing PUPPP — pruritic urticarial papules also known as polymorphic eruption of pregnancy (PEP), is a rash that usually develops in the stretch marks on your stomach in the latest stages (3rd trimester) of your pregnancy. 

The rash typically begins with the skin around the abdomen as pink pimples in the stretch marks. These then aggregate and form wheals or plaques that are very itchy. These itchy plaques spread over your torso but rarely do they ever go past your breasts.It usually recedes a few weeks after you have delivered your child.

40 weeks pregnant symptoms

There are a number of symptoms that you will feel and recognize at the tail end of your pregnancy.

These are:

  • Braxton Hicks contractions. As you get nearer to getting into labor, your body prepares for this process. You might feel a few short-lived and light contractions. These last from about 30 seconds to 2 minutes. They usually subside when you change position or if you empty your bladder and drink some water. The real thing — labor — increases in intensity and frequency as time goes on. They will progress even if you get some rest. Real labor contractions do have an effect on the cervix opening. You should watch out for the first of these labor contractions so that you can go to the hospital to deliver your little one.
  • Effacement. This is also known as cervical dilation. At this stage, the cervix becomes smaller and thinner in readiness to let the baby leave the uterus. The cervix also begins to open although you might not feel it. This process will continue to progress all through the beginning and active part of labor contractions.
  • Changes in the baby’s activity. The baby seems restless and eager to come out of the womb when you reach this stage of the pregnancy. You will notice that there’s a lot of wriggling and nudging as well as rolling. At 40 weeks, you should notice at least 10 instances of these activities in an hour.
  • Pelvic pain. The baby is nestling closer to the cervix in the lower part of the womb and pushing up against it. This will cause you to feel some pressure in your pelvic area. Sometimes the lower part of the uterus will nudge some nerves in the area, causing you to feel some painful sensations and discomfort.
  • Diarrhea. While you have been battling with constipation in the previous weeks, you might find yourself with loose bowels this time around. This is usually a sign that the genuine labor contractions are approaching — time for the baby to come out and meet the world.

40 weeks pregnant ultrasound

During your last screening tests with your doctor, you might do an ultrasound. At this point in the pregnancy, you will be able to see your fully formed baby. You can clearly see him snuggling comfortably in your womb.

If you do 3D or 4D ultrasound, you can see other small features like the fully grown fingernails, the hair, the eyebrows, and genitals.

An ultrasound at this stage is usually part of the non-stress test taken to find out how the baby is holding up and if it can endure the rigors of labor.

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40 weeks pregnant lifestyle and diet

When you’re expecting your young one to come into the world at any second, your social activities might be restricted to your home or in the neighborhood. Your extended family and friends can always come over to keep you company and chip in where needed.

This final period should be about relaxing so that you’re not stressed. You should also feel comfortable in your surroundings and attire. You should, therefore, even choose the pregnancy bra that will make sure your swollen and tender breasts are comfortable.

Your diet should be one that doesn’t stress your digestive system. Otherwise, it will sap your body of the energy it needs when the time comes to push.

You should, therefore, have light but nutritious snacks and meals. Try as much as possible to eat bland foods whose main use is to provide energy and other nutrients. This includes toast, crackers, and nuts.

Drink enough water to keep you hydrated

Sex at week 40 of pregnancy

If your doctor sees no problem with your pregnancy and deems it safe to have sex, you can go ahead and engage in intercourse. However, remember to always have protection so as to prevent spreading infections that can harm your baby.

Find comfortable positions to have sex so that you can enjoy and reduce the risk of harming the baby.

40 weeks pregnant checklist

With the end of your pregnancy in sight, you need to make sure that you have taken care of everything and everything is ready.

40 weeks 1 day pregnant 

Go for your last prenatal visit to see if everything is fine with the baby.

40 weeks 2 days pregnant

Check to see if all your postnatal supplies are ready in the nursery.

40 weeks 3 days pregnant

Read about other mothers' experience with childbirth. It will give you an idea of what to expect.

40 weeks 4 days pregnant

Pack your hospital bag and double check to see that it has everything you will need at the hospital.

40 weeks 5 days pregnant

Check if the hospital cafeteria has the foods you will need. These should be light and bland snacks.

40 weeks 6 days pregnant

If you had made a shortlist, you should now be settling on the final one and choosing a name for your baby.

40 weeks 7 days pregnant

Relax and wait for the baby to arrive.

What you should ask your doctor

If the thought of pushing out a 10-pound human being is giving you undue stress, you should consider cesarean birth. Ask your doctor how safe cesarean section is.

You should also ask your doctor what you should expect on the day that your contractions start. You will get advice so that you’re not caught unaware.

If you’re not sure what you will need on D day, ask your doctor. They will give you a few recommendations that you can add to your hospital bag.

If you experience any pains and bleeding, you should get in touch with your doctor as soon as possible.