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40 weeks pregnant - all you need to know

If you’re reading this, the chances are you’re still waiting for labour to begin. It will not be long now.

40 weeks infographic.

What does my baby look like in week 40?

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

Film published in Oct 2016. Review date Oct 2019

Your pregnancy symptoms in week 40

Swollen feet and hands

If your feet are swollen, try propping them up so they’re higher than your heart for about an hour each day.

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.

What to do in week 40

Go to sleep on your side if you're not already doing so

When you reach your third trimester, the advice is to go to sleep on your side because research has shown that going to sleep on your back is linked to an increased risk of stillbirth. This advice includes daytime napping and night sleeping. Read more about safe sleep positions in pregnancy.

The membrane sweep

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

It’s a way to help bring on labour without using any drugs.

Your midwife will put two fingers into the vagina and make a circular or sweeping movements in your cervix.

It happens at the antenatal clinic and takes around 10 minutes. It shouldn’t be painful but some women said they found it uncomfortable. It is normal to have a small amount of spotting afterwards so it may be helpful to bring a thin pad with you for afterwards.

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.

What if I don’t love my baby?

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.

Waiting to give birth

It can be torturous. Your due date has been and gone, you feel huge and you’re tired of going to the loo every five minutes.

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

NHS Choices. You and your baby at 37–40 weeks pregnant. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pregnancy-weeks-37-38-39-40.aspx (Page last reviewed: 31/03/2017 Next review due: 31/03/2020).

Macdonald S, Magill-Cuerden J (2012) Mayes’ Midwifery, 14th edition, London, Ballière Tindall

Heazell AEP, Li M et al (2017) Association between maternal sleep practices and late stillbirth – findings from a stillbirth case-control study. BJOG 2017; https://doi.org/10.1111/1471-0528.14967.

Stacey T, Thompson JM et al (2011) Association between maternal sleep practices and risk of late stillbirth: a case-control study. BMJ. 2011 Jun 14;342:d3403. doi: 10.1136/bmj.d3403.

Gordon A1, Raynes-Greenow C et al (2015) Sleep position, fetal growth restriction, and late-pregnancy stillbirth: the Sydney stillbirth study. Obstet Gynecol. 2015 Feb;125(2):347-55. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000000627.

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Last reviewed on June 28th, 2018. Next review date June 28th, 2021.

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Comments

  • By Sara (not verified) on 2 Jul 2018 - 09:49

    I had a Stillbirth at 41+5 weeks, my baby’s heart stopped just before I got to the hospital in labour.
    I was devasted to loose my baby girl, we were both healthy as far as we know. I am still waiting on the post-mortem results.

    I would like to get pregnant again, as being a mother is everything I always wanted But I am afraid if I try again I won’t bring my baby back home like before.

    How can I get an appointment with Professor Alex Heazell when I Live in London?

    What would you advise me to do first?

    Thank you

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 2 Jul 2018 - 15:55

    Dear Sara, Really sorry that you have been through such a traumatic time and devastated about the loss of your beautiful daughter. We have a phone line and you are most welcome to call us 0800 0147 800. We can talk you through how to get a referral to see Prof Heazell in Manchester. He is happy to see couples who live anywhere in the country. If you would prefer to discuss via e-mail we can be contacted at [email protected]'s.org. Take good care of yourself. Tommy's midwives x

  • By PregnancyBNP on 9 Jun 2018 - 07:35

    Hello,

    Would you have recommendation on websites to find maternity nurse?

    Thank you.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 Jun 2018 - 14:31

    I am sorry that we do not have any suggestions to help you find a maternity nurse.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 7 Dec 2017 - 01:43

    much waiting due 12th n no sign f labour

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 7 Dec 2017 - 11:51

    Hi, Thank you for your comment.

    Only around 5% of babies will be born on their due date. It can be very common that you reach the 39th week of your pregnancy and there are no signs of labour. Please feel reassured that this can be very normal. Try and keep mobile and maintain a health diet, rest well and if you are worried about your baby's movements or anything about your pregnancy then please contact your maternity unit for further advice. Hope this helps, take care, Tommy's Midwives x

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