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weeks pregnant

40 weeks pregnant - what to expect

If you’re reading this, the chances are you’re still waiting for your little bundle of joy to arrive. Not long now. It’s a tight fit in your womb for your baby now and they’re ready to be born.

40 weeks infographic.

What does my baby look like?

Most babies put in an appearance between 38 and 42 weeks of pregnancy, so it’s not unusual to go past your due date.

The average baby is about 3-4 kg at this point - try to imagine a pumpkin, or a watermelon!

Remember that no matter how tight the fit is, you should be feeling baby move in the same pattern as they always have.

Movements do not slow down in late pregnancy.

Watch our film on why your baby's movements matter here.

Your symptoms - what to expect

Swollen feet and hands?

Take a load off - avoid standing for long periods of time

Prop your feet up so they’re higher than your heart for about an hour each day

Do some stretches - point your toes down and release upwards, 30 times. Then circle your ankles eight times - both feet.

If your swelling is severe or comes on suddenly, is particularly in your face as well as hands and feet, or comes with a headache or problems with your vision, you may have pre-eclampsia and should call your midwife, hospital or doctor immediately.

Having hot flushes?

Your body is working extra hard to carry your baby. Some tips to keep cool:

  • Invest in a desk fan for your bedroom
  • Carry a small, battery-operated fan around with you
  • Wear loose, breathable fabrics
  • Always have a bottle of water handy
  • Take a dip in a refreshing bath. Or, better still, go for a swim.

Actions to take

What’s a membrane sweep?

If you go over your due date, you might be offered a membrane sweep by your midwife.

It’s a drug-free way to help induce labour and involves your midwife making a circular, or sweeping, movement with her fingers on your cervix.

Your antenatal care

You should have a routine antenatal appointment booked for week 40 and you should also have one booked for 41 weeks in case your baby doesn’t arrive on time.

It's important not to miss your antenatal appointments in these final weeks. If you do have a problem, your antenatal team can spot the warning signs early and take action straight away.

Find out more about your antenatal appointment schedule.

How is labour induced?

As many as one in five pregnancies in the UK can end in an induction - where labour is started artificially. Here’s what you need to know about induction of labour.

I’m worried about meeting my baby. What if I don’t love him?

Some women feel an intense love for their babies when they are born, but for many others it takes a few weeks or even months to adjust and to grow into loving their baby.

Either way, it’s entirely normal. It doesn’t have to be love at first sight for you to be a great mum.

If you feel anxiety or depression now or after the birth, do talk to your doctor, midwife or health visitor.

Find out more about getting the help and support you need.

The waiting game

It can be torturous. Your due date has been and gone, you feel the size of the Mothership and you’re oh so tired of waddling to the loo every five minutes. It’s time for this baby to make an appearance.

Only problem is it’s out of your control. Or is it? We asked mums what they think encouraged their baby out.

“For every day or two I went over my due date I gave myself a treat, like getting my nails done.” Emma, mum of one

Read more about your mental wellbeing in pregnancy

Sources

1. You and your baby at 37–40 weeks pregnant, NHS Choices:http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pregnancy-weeks-37-38-39-40.aspx [accessed 12 June 2015] (last reviewed: 11 February 2015; next review due: 11 February 2017).

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Last reviewed on April 1st, 2015. Next review date April 1st, 2018.

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