40 Weeks Pregnant
Congratulations! You are officially at the end of your pregnancy and this could be your last week. Studies show that only 5% of the babies are born on their estimated due date, the rest come earlier than expected and some happy babies even plan to stay back longer. These are post term babies and in case yo u have crossed the 40 week mark and pains have not started, the doctor may let you to continue for another week or two. That’s the maximum you can go! This week you are 40 weeks pregnant and your little one is all set to make his appearance and he is as big as a pumpkin weighing 3.45 kg and almost 50 cm tall.
How Your Baby is Growing This Week?
The sensory organs are ready and already functioning when your baby is born. He can recognize your voice and can feel the sense of security in your smell. A surprising fact is that the amniotic fluid which surrounded the baby for all these months has a particular smell which the baby is familiar with and the same smell is present in breast milk due to which the baby knows exactly how to latch onto the breast and start sucking. This is an inborn reflex which is needed for survival. The other reflexes present at birth are rooting, grasping and startle reflex.
The fine hair and layer of vernix covering the skin is still shedding off at 40 weeks pregnant time. In case the baby is post term, the skin will be clean and relatively dry. The finger and toe nails are already there when the baby makes its grand appearance and within a week, you will have to trim those little nails.
During all these months, the baby stays within the womb in a curled position with the hands and feet flexed in front of the body. After birth, the limbs will initially be scrunched up together till he gets used to the ample space available to him. The skull bones are not completely fused and this is mainly to allow over riding of the bones making it easy for the baby to pass through the narrow birth canal. The two soft spots on the skull of the baby are called fontanelles. The diamond shaped anterior fontanelle fuses by 8-15 months of age and the triangle shaped posterior fontanelle fuses by 3-4 months of life.
At 40 weeks pregnant, the internal organs are all functioning and in sync. The lungs and brain continue to grow even after birth. The liver has begun the production of glucose which will provide the baby with energy immediately after it is born.
Changes in Your Body at 40 Weeks Pregnant
This week your due date is here and your body has prepared itself. The baby is ready now and the only anxiety is about how and when the baby will make its appearance. Most pregnant women experience labor pains between the 38 weeks and 40 weeks pregnant period. However, as every pregnancy is different, the pregnancy symptoms for labor are different as well.
This week symptoms of pregnancy are different from your previous symptoms. If your water bag breaks, the contractions are likely to begin followed by active labor. In case you are outdoors and you suspect that the water bag has ruptured, then there are ways to confirm it. Squeeze your pelvic muscles like in kegels exercises and if the discharge stops then it is urine that you are leaking. If it is amniotic fluid, it will continue to flow first as a trickle and later the flow may increase. If you notice that the fluid leaking is greenish in color, then you need to rush to the doctor immediately as it indicates meconium stained liquor and is a sign of fetal distress (the baby has pooped inside the womb).
If your water bag has broken but the pains haven’t started, then the doctor will wait for 24 hours before you can be induced. The process of induction means augmenting or speeding up the labor and this is done by using an oxytocin drip which increases the contractions and shortens the first stage of labor.
After your cervix is dilated to 10 cm, the second stage of labor begins where the contractions are very strong and you feel the urge to push. With each push the baby comes lower down until crowning takes place – the head of the baby is seen from outside at the opening of the dilated cervix.
After the baby is delivered, the third stage of labor comes where the placenta is delivered spontaneously due to the uterine contractions. The cord and placenta once completely out are checked and the umbilical cord is clamped and cut. From then onwards, the baby becomes a separate entity and he begins to survive independently.
Week 40 Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms
The baby due date calculator is marked red as you are due this week. Anytime soon you will be going to the hospital and your little baby will join you. It’s been 9 long months since you last took that pregnancy test.
- Feeling the baby lower down
- Braxton Hicks contractions
- Pelvic pain
- Oedema of hands and feet
- Anxiety about labor
- Frequent urination due to pressure on the bladder
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Involuntary urination on coughing or sneezing
- Round ligament pain
- Hot flushes
- Stretch marks on your pregnant belly, breast and thighs
- Strange Dreams
- Cramps in legs
- Itching of skin over abdomen and breasts
- Varicose veins and hemorrhoids
- Stretch marks
- Leaking of colostrum
- Darkening of nipple and areola
- Increased pigmentation of skin
Diagnostic Tests and Ultrasound Results in Week 40 of Pregnancy
This week, while you are 40 weeks pregnant, you may have an ultrasound and it is mainly to check for fetal well being. The doctor will check the baby’s heart rate, breathing movements, placental blood flow, amount of amniotic fluid, and condition of the cervix. These parameters will help the doctor decide if you can wait for a week or two more past your due date.
The antenatal check up will mainly be to check your blood pressure and cervical dilatation to predict the onset of labor. You may also need to undergo a test called NST (fetal Non Stress Test) to check for the baby’s movements if they have reduced.
Pregnancy Health Tips
- You need to relax in this last week and keep a watch for contractions. If you have pains more than 5 times in one hour, you could be on the verge of labor.
- Keep the essential items in your kitchen ready so that when you come back from the hospital things are organized.
- Wash all the baby clothes and blankets that you plan to use. The chemicals and colors in new clothes can harm the baby’s delicate skin.
- Continue to walk and do your yoga till the last day and don’t worry about your pregnancy weight gain.
- If your water bag has broken, try to stay calm. It indicates that you are likely to go into labor but it’s not an emergency. Rush to the hospital as soon as you can.
- Keep your birth plan ready and ensure you have discussed it with your spouse and doctor so they know what you wish for yourself and the baby.
- Accept help from family and friends in the first few weeks with the baby or you can also keep a full time help to do the household chores while you attend to your baby.