The size of a baby at 40 weeks is similar to a small pumpkin. They are approximately 48 to 56cm from the top of their head to their heel (crown-heel length). Curled up, they are between 45 to 51cm from the top of their head to their buttocks (crown-rump length). They weigh roughly 2.7 to 4kg.
Remember, the above numbers are just averages. Your baby could be born smaller or bigger and still be perfectly healthy.
40 weeks in months is 9 months – and a bit. But as you’ve found out by now, pregnancy is recorded by weeks, and you’ve made it to the last one! It won’t be long now until you meet the new love of your life.
Babies at 40 weeks gestation
Pregnancy at 40 weeks marks your official due date, meaning your baby could be born any day now. Here are some things to keep in mind when you meet your little guy or gal.
No matter the ethnicity of your baby, all newborns are born with skin that is deep red or purple in colour. This is because their skin is still thin, which makes their red blood vessels more noticeable.
You may also notice that their hands and/or feet are blue after birth. This is completely normal. Their circulation system just needs a bit of time to get up to speed.
Your baby’s bones have hardened, except for their skull. This needs to remain soft so their head can move easily through the birth canal. Don’t be surprised if your baby has a cone-shaped head when you first meet. Eventually, it will round out.
Newborns and swaddling
After spending 40 weeks curled up inside of you, your baby isn’t used to being spread out. They’ll take comfort in being swaddled in a blanket, as this will remind them of your uterus (their first home).
Your body at 40 weeks pregnant
During the last weeks of pregnancy symptoms, you may find yourself the most uncomfortable. Luckily, you don’t have much longer to go. Here are the things you may be experiencing this week.
- Signs of labour. If you haven’t already experienced these pregnancy symptoms, this could be the week. Here are some common signs that may signal childbirth is near.
- Losing your mucus plug
- Experiencing a bloody show
- Diarrhoea or loose stools
- Your water breaking
- Contractions. You may have already experienced Braxton Hicks contractions during your pregnancy. However, this week, real contractions are more likely to occur. If the contractions start to come on more frequently and don’t go away when you move around or change positions, this could be a sign that your little one is ready to arrive.
To know how close they are, time your contractions by counting from the beginning of one to the beginning of the next.
- Swelling. Your body produces about 50% more blood and bodily fluids when you’re pregnant. This makes swelling (also referred to as edema) in your feet, legs, ankles, and hands more common. It can be worse at the end of the day, and during the last few weeks of pregnancy.
If the swelling becomes particularly bad, reduce your sodium intake, keep hydrated, wear loose clothing, and avoid spending too much time on your feet.
- Pelvic pressure. Now that your baby is nestled deep down in your pelvis in preparation for birth, you may experience an increasing amount of pelvic pressure. To relieve some of the pain, take a warm bath (never hot), go for a casual swim, book a prenatal massage, or try wearing a pelvic support garment.
Taking care of yourself when pregnant at 40 weeks
You’ve done an amazing job at nourishing your body and keeping your baby healthy these past 40 weeks. Now, it’s just a waiting game for your little bundle of joy to arrive. To help you feel better prepared and more comfortable, here are some things to focus on this week.
- Relax as much as you can. You’re in the home stretch of pregnancy now. You won’t have to wait much longer to meet your baby and start a new chapter in life. Take these last few days to enjoy some “me time”. After all, you’ve earned it.
Binge-watch your favourite TV show, start a new book, catch up with a friend, and rack up those zzz’s while you still can. You’ll need plenty of energy for labour, so don’t feel guilty about enjoying some R&R.
- Meditate. At 40 weeks pregnant, you probably have just one thing on your mind – baby. You might be feeling anxious not knowing what to expect from labour and delivery. Meditation can help calm your mind and relieve some of the worries you may be experiencing. For a guided option, download an app or look for videos on Youtube.
- Consider these tips to naturally induce labour. Two natural ways thought to induce labour are walking and sex. Although these methods haven’t been scientifically proven, they are both safe activities you can enjoy right up until the contractions hit.
Walking helps gravity push the baby further down onto your cervix, which can help with dilation. And as for sex, there is a correlation between women who have more sex being less likely to go over their due date.
- Protect your mattress. Your water could break at any time, including while you’re sleeping. If you’re worried about this happening when you’re in bed, consider buying a waterproof mattress protector.