Your baby is now the size of a watermelon, measuring between nineteen (19) and twenty-one (21) inches from head to heel and weighing about seven and a half (7.5) pounds. You are in your ninth month of pregnancy. Your pregnancy is considered full term. You are not considered overdue until after the end of week 42 of pregnancy.
Congratulations! Your baby is due during week 40 of pregnancy. Keep in mind, however, that only 5% of babies are born on their due dates. Furthermore, roughly 50% of babies are born after forty weeks during week 41 of pregnancy or week 42 of pregnancy. Although 88% of babies are born between weeks 38 and 42, 1.8% are born after week 42 of pregnancy. Even if your baby is late, keep in mind that an estimated due date is just that: an estimate. You and your health care provider might think that your baby is overdue, but, in reality, your baby will be born right on time. Just sit back, relax, and try to enjoy your last few moments before you become a mommy.
During week 40 of pregnancy and beyond, all of your baby’s internal organs and organ systems including the lungs are fully developed. The lungs also continue to produce surfactant in preparation for breathing. Now smooth because of the layers of fat deposited under the surface, the skin is pink, ruddy red, or brownish in color. The brain and nervous system continue to fine-tune, which is a process that will continue after your baby is born. Your baby continues to practice skills such as breathing, swallowing, sucking, and blinking that will be necessary for life outside of the womb. Your baby’s lanugo is gone and the vernix continues to disappear. Your baby may also drop into the pelvis during week 40 of pregnancy, which can make breathing easier for you.
By week 40 of pregnancy and beyond, 97% of babies have moved into the head down position in preparation for birth. A small percentage of babies will remain breech or even sideways. Although your health care provider might suggest an automatic cesarean section for a baby in a non-optimal, you have the right to decline and wait until labor progresses before making the decision. A breech vaginal delivery does come with additional risks, but a vaginal birth under the supervisor of a trained professional is almost always safer than a surgical birth. You can also try external cephalic version, which is a procedure in which your health care provider coaxes the baby to turn from outside the womb.
During week 40 of pregnancy and beyond, you can expect the same symptoms as the past couple of weeks including Braxton Hicks contractions, enlarged breasts, leaking colostrum, stretch marks, itchy abdominal skin, PUPP, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, backaches, leg cramps, mild swelling of the feet and ankles, frequent urination, bloating, headaches, heartburn, indigestion, flatulence, constipation, loose joints, pelvic pressure and discomfort, cervical dilation or effacement, and a protruding belly button. You may also experience increased fatigue, difficulty sleeping, odd dreams, nervousness or anxiety, forgetfulness, clumsiness, and nesting behaviors in the days leading up to the birth of your baby.
Contractions that feel like menstrual cramps are a sure sign of labor during week 40 of pregnancy. Your water may break before contractions begin or during labor. You may also notice mucus tinged with a tiny amount of blood, which is referred to as bloody show, in the toilet or in your underwear. Contact your health care provider when you think that you are in labor. Also contact your health care provider if you experience heavy bleeding or spotting or any other unusual symptoms including any signs of pre-eclampsia. The two most common symptoms of pre-eclampsia are high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Other signs of the life-threatening condition include rapid weight gain, extreme swelling of the face, severe or persistent headaches, double vision or blurred vision, sensitivity to light, temporary loss of vision, intense pain or tenderness in the upper abdomen, and vomiting.
Learn about your baby during week 39 of pregnancy.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not meant to replace the professional medical advice of your health care provider.
40 weeks pregnant: http://www.babyzone.com/pregnancy-week-by-week/40-weeks-pregnant_70932
Breech birth: http://www.babycenter.com/0_breech-birth_158.bc
Curtis, Glade B. & Judith Schuler. 2011. Your pregnancy week by week. 7th edn. Philadelphia: Running Press.
Stone, Joanne & Keith Eddleman, eds. 2003. The pregnancy bible: Your complete guide to pregnancy and early parenthood. Willowdale, Ontario: Firefly Books.
Weeks 41-42: http://www.birth.com.au/Pregnancy/Pregnancy-29-40-weeks/Pregnancy-week-by-week/Weeks-41-42#
Your pregnancy: 40 weeks: http://www.babycenter.com/6_your-pregnancy-40-weeks_1129.bc
Your pregnancy: 41 weeks: http://www.babycenter.com/6_your-pregnancy-41-weeks_5904.bc
Your pregnancy week by week: Weeks 35-40: http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/your-pregnancy-week-by-week-weeks-35-40
Baby Bump at 40 Weeks: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sheila_40_weeks.jpg