By moms. For moms.

40 Weeks Pregnant: Symptoms & What to Know

40 Weeks Pregnant: Symptoms & What to Know

third trimester symptoms

You did it! You’ve reached week 40 of pregnancy! As you wait for your baby to make their grand entrance, try to keep your mind busy by finding small ways to celebrate each day until you go into labor (finally). If you feel like going out, go shopping with a friend (walking might help induce labor), schedule a pedicure for those swollen feet, or grab a bite to eat at your favorite restaurant. 

If you’re past your due date, try not to worry: about 1 in 3 pregnancies go to 41 weeks. Relaxing is easier said than done (especially if you're still experiencing pregnancy symptoms like heartburn, diarrhea, and mood swings), but your baby (and body) will let you know when it’s time. 

At the beginning of your pregnancy, your due date is calculated as 40 weeks after the day you started your last period. But it’s really more of an estimate. Irregular periods or prior birth control use may cause your due date to be inaccurate, and your doctor might adjust your due date after seeing your baby’s growth during ultrasounds. 

Rest assured that you won’t be pregnant forever (even though it may feel like it). If you don’t go into labor on your own, your doctor probably won’t let you go much past 41 weeks of pregnancy. There are many reasons care providers might recommend inducing labor (aka labor induction), which prompts the uterus to contract before labor begins on its own. Talk to your doctor or midwife about when you might be induced (probably between 41 and 42 weeks for a vaginal birth) and how they'll induce labor.

Some common ways of inducing labor include using prostaglandin (a version of the chemicals your body naturally produces) or a balloon to ripen the cervix, taking Pitocin to start contractions, and performing membrane sweeps to loosen the amniotic sac from the uterus. 

Your health care provider may also recommend a non-stress test – a standard test to check on your baby’s health and your amniotic fluid levels (you may have received non-stress tests earlier in pregnancy if you’re having twins or have an underlying medical condition such as high blood pressure). During a non-stress test, your baby's heart rate is monitored to see how it responds to their movements.

Your baby at 40 weeks pregnant is the size of a watermelon. Soon you’ll meet your little one, and they’ll likely recognize your voice, so make sure to keep talking to them.

how big does baby get before born

40 Weeks Pregnant Symptoms

Changes in Fetal Movement

Your baby’s movements may have changed or slowed down by this point in your pregnancy due to their increasingly tight quarters. Even so, you should still be able to feel them moving. Normal movement is usually 10 flutters, wiggles, or rolls an hour, but check with your doctor or midwife since “kick counts” or other methods of monitoring your baby’s movements can differ. 

Cervical Dilation and Effacement

Your cervix is likely opening or thinning out this week, even though you can’t feel it. If you give the go-ahead, your doctor or midwife may do a cervical exam to check your cervix for dilation (how open your cervix is, measured in centimeters) and effacement (how thin your cervix is, measured in percentages). Your cervix will continue to dilate and efface through early and active labor. (Remember, you need to be 10 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced to start pushing.) 

what are fake contractions

Braxton Hicks Contractions

These practice contractions might make you wonder if they’re the real deal, especially when you’re full term. If you can’t feel the contractions increasing in severity or frequency or if they go away when you walk around or change positions, they’re probably still practice contractions. Take this opportunity to practice some deep breathing techniques to prepare for when you’re in labor.

Pelvic Pain

If your baby has dropped, you can expect uncomfortable sensations in your pelvic region, especially as your baby’s head bumps up against your hips and bladder. With your health care provider’s permission, you may want to schedule a massage with a certified prenatal massage therapist. It should soothe discomfort and help you relax while you wait for your baby to arrive. 

Leg Cramps

You might experience more leg spasms this week. Even though no one knows what exactly causes these painful leg cramps, it’s a safe bet that carrying around that pregnancy weight – especially now that your baby has reached their birth weight – is a contributing factor. Gently flex your ankle and toes when you feel a spasm coming on, and make sure to stay hydrated.

full term pregnancy 40th week

Baby on Board

Your baby at week 40 probably measures between 19 and 22 inches long and weighs between 7 and 8 pounds, though many babies are born bigger or smaller. They’re getting ready to meet you by putting on fat; these fat stores will allow them to adjust better to life outside the womb by providing energy, helping them with temperature regulation, and more. 

Don’t be alarmed if your baby doesn’t look quite how you imagined at first. Their skull will be soft and pliable and may appear temporarily cone-shaped if you deliver vaginally. (Pro tip: If you’re worried about your baby’s soft spots after delivery, ask a nurse to point them out and show you how to hold your baby without hurting them.) You may also notice vernix (the white substance that covered their skin in utero) and some lingering lanugo (thin, soft hairs). Some babies are born with white dots, acne, or a red rash on their skin. These are all normal signs of a healthy newborn, but don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor, midwife, or pediatrician about any concerns you have. 

best nursing pajamas

What to Wear This Week

We know it's hard to find anything that feels comfortable on your body at 40 weeks pregnant. We get it if you want to stay in your pajamas all day (and you totally should). If you want to gift yourself a gorgeous pair of nursing pajamas for after you deliver, our Jane Nursing Pajama Set is comfortable, practical, and cute. The pants feature a wide waistband while the nursing top is perfect for feeding your new baby on chilly mornings.

Treat yourself to a pretty and functional nursing bra while you wait for your baby's arrival. Our Minimalist Hands-Free Pumping & Nursing Plunge Bra features our EasyClip® so you can wear the same bra all day for pumping, nursing, or both at the same time. This dual nursing and pumping bra has fixed padding and a streamlined silhouette that will make a sultry yet functional addition to your postpartum wardrobe.

Congratulations! You made it! After nine months of waiting, and dealing with pregnancy symptoms (and the endless anticipation), your little one is finally here (or will be soon). Remember to savor all of the firsts – from feedings to cuddles to skin-to-skin – but don’t forget to take care of yourself too. 

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This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice that has been medically reviewed. Please reach out to your doctor or midwife with any questions.

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