Pregnancy

40 Weeks Pregnant: What to Expect During Pregnancy

Team Peanut11 months ago7 min read

So, you’re 40 weeks pregnant – congratulations, soon-to-be-mama! You’re on the home stretch.

Nine months of pregnancy are nearing their end and you’re officially full-term.

40 weeks pregnant

40 weeks pregnant is how many months?! you cry.

Yep, that’s right: nine whole months of growing a human are under your belt (no pun intended…). What a superstar!

At 40 weeks, you’re right around your due date, and we know what a crazy mixture of nerves and excitement you’re feeling at the moment.

When will the baby get here? Did I buy enough diapers? When can I get another foot massage, already?

Well, sit back, relax and spend a few minutes with us, as we go through what you can expect the next few days of your pregnancy to bring.

Your baby at 40 weeks pregnant

At 40 weeks pregnant, your baby will be about the size of a small pumpkin (or a watermelon, if you prefer fruit).

That’s somewhere around 19 to 22 inches from head to heel and 6 to 9 pounds in weight.

However, many perfectly healthy babies are born smaller or bigger than this.

Inside your belly, your baby is cozily tucked up with their head pointing downwards towards your pelvis, getting into position for the big day.

But not to worry if your little one hasn’t quite got the memo and is still pointing head up (aka they’re in the breech position).

In that case, your healthcare provider may try to coax baby to turn around by applying pressure to your abdomen.

If that doesn’t work out, your HP may discuss the option of a Caesarean delivery (C-section) with you, if that wasn’t already part of your birth plan.

In other news, your baby’s hair and nails are continuing to grow, and their lungs are coming along nicely – ready to take their first breaths in the outside world.

Your baby will still be moving around quite a bit, but if you do sense any decreased fetal movement at 40 weeks, just mention it to your HP.

They’re sure to be keeping a close eye on you and baby in your check-ups anyway.

Week 40 pregnancy symptoms

Your 40 weeks pregnant belly should be looking pretty impressive at this point.

Unluckily, you’ll probably still be experiencing some of those third trimester pregnancy symptoms, along with a few special ones for your last few days before lift-off.

Braxton Hicks contractions

You may have been feeling these little tightening sensations since the second trimester, and they can continue into week 40.

When the contractions start to become more regular and more painful, that’s a sign that you’re heading for the first stage of labor (more on this later!).

Back pain

If you’re sporting a big bump, this could be putting strain on your back and causing some pain.

Try a warm, soothing bath or ask your partner for a massage to ease the soreness.

Pelvic pain

As your baby drops down towards your pelvis, they can nudge up against your hips and your bladder, which can cause achiness – and the frequent urge to pee!

Disturbed sleep

With all these aches and pains, hormonal changes, and frequent bathroom trips, it’s no wonder that you may be struggling to get to sleep.

The main thing is not to worry too much about this, as anxiety can also get in the way of those Zs.

You could try giving yourself a relaxing time before bed, with some soothing music or a good book.

Leg cramps

At 40 weeks pregnant, cramps in your legs can also be an annoying symptom.

No one is 100% sure why they happen, but it’s not much fun when they break into your already less-than-perfect night’s sleep.

Try gently stretching the muscles in your legs to relieve cramps.

Is it normal to be 40 weeks pregnant?

If you’re a little past your due date, the question may have crossed your mind about whether it’s normal to still be pregnant at 40 weeks.

But don’t worry, it’s actually very common to run over your due date.

Research has found that 60% of women give birth on or before their due date, but another 35% get going in the 41st week or 42nd week of pregnancy.

In fact, with the majority of delayed births, newborns are “late” turning up because their due date was slightly miscalculated.

It’s quite hard for HPs to pinpoint exactly when conception took place, particularly if your periods are irregular.

And in other cases, for Mother Nature’s own mysterious reasons, your baby just needs a little extra time to get ready for their new adventure.

Try and be patient (we know it’s hard!) and consult your HP if you have any concerns at all.

Signs of labor at 40 weeks

As we saw above, it’s totally possible (and normal) to be 40 weeks pregnant with no signs of labor.

But if you do start to see some of the following, there’s a good chance that your baby is on their way:

Loose bowels

Sorry, not much fun – but experiencing loose bowels or diarrhea when you’re 40 weeks pregnant could be a sign that your body is having a bit of a “clear out” in preparation for labor.

Try to drink plenty of water and keep your energy up with some healthy, low-fat snacks.

Bloody show

If you’re near your due date and you have slightly pink or brown discharge – so-called “bloody show” – that’s a sign that your cervix is starting to dilate ready for labor.

Not to be confused with the loss of your mucus plug (which handily prevents bacteria getting into your uterus during pregnancy) – this may already have happened a few weeks ago.

➡️ Learn more about bloody show

Contractions

Move over Braxton Hicks – it’s the real thing at last.

Your first true contractions show that your cervix (the entrance to your uterus) is starting to dilate (open), preparing to let baby out into the world.

You may feel tightening that starts at your back and moves to the front of your belly.

If you feel some pain with the contractions and they’re happening at regular intervals (it’s a good plan to time them), you’re probably entering the early stage of labor. You’re on the way!

Waters breaking

Contrary to what we often see on TV, many women have already begun labor when their waters break.

And it’s not necessarily going to flood out in a tidal wave, either!

Your waters break when the amniotic sac (the bag of fluid that’s been protecting baby inside you) splits and the fluid flows out.

It’s clear and odorless, and it may come out quickly or gradually.

When it does, that’s a sure sign that labor should begin in the next 24 hours – if it hasn’t got underway already.

➡️ Learn more about water breaking

Looking after you in week 40

If those tell-tale signs of labor haven’t yet appeared, try to relax and enjoy some “me-time” before you embark on the new challenge of life with a newborn.

Call a friend, re-read a favorite novel, go for a walk somewhere green – whatever it takes to help you rest and take your mind off the nerves.

Your little one will be along to greet you before you know it!

🤰Read next:
41 Weeks Pregnant: What to Expect
Your Pregnancy Week By Week Guide
40 Week Ultrasound: Key Facts