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Week 40 of Pregnancy: All You Need to Know

Baby Development|Body & Life Changes|Your Doctor Visits|Health & Safety
Week 40 of Pregnancy: All You Need to Know

Baby Development

How is my baby growing?

At week 40 of pregnancy baby development, baby development is so advanced you can give birth to a healthy infant any time. Since your baby is due any time now, your ninth month of pregnancy, you cannot travel too far away from home. In fact, some airline companies forbid pregnant women to travel. It is best for you stay somewhere near your doctor or health provider should you go into labor.

Now is the best time for you and your partner to attend childbirth classes to guide you on childbirth and labor. Make sure you have enough baby supplies like food and clothes and file your maternity leave with your employer.

At 40 weeks of pregnancy baby development, your infant has thicker, coarser hair. The baby is as big as a small pumpkin. It is 20.2 inches (51 cm) long and weighs 7.4 pounds (3.3 kg). Its body hair has disappeared.

Your baby also has:

  • Fully developed lungs
  • Longer nails
  • Two soft spots on the skull called fontanelles. These aids the skull bones in shifting as the baby emerges from the birth canal. They also help the baby’s brain develop further after birth.
  • Meconium. This green, sticky substance in the gut forms your infant’s fecal matter after being born.
  • A creamy coating called vernix caseosa that protects the baby’s skin

Body & Life Changes

How is my body changing?

At 40 weeks of pregnancy baby development, your body is adjusting fast to various changes. These include:

  • A bigger belly. Your belly button sticks out, making it hard for you to walk and engage in regular activities.
  • Stretch marks. These become more pronounced. You may apply moisturizing cream for itchy stretch marks.
  • Formation of colostrum. This yellowish substance, the first milk the breasts produce, begins to leak from your nipples.
  • Cervix dilation. This cylinder-shaped tissue in your uterus starts widening to accommodate your baby. Cervix dilation can cause true contractions or false Braxton Hicks contractions. Check with your doctor when the contractions become regular or stronger.
  • Emotional changes. You might feel anxious, impatient, and worried about childbirth and parenthood. Sleep may be difficult. Hormonal changes cause mood swings as well.
  • Lightening feeling. Your baby’s downward movement releases pressure from your ribs, making you breathe better and easing heartburn.
  • Pelvic pain. This is an offshoot of the baby’s continuous downward movement. The movement of your baby’s head in your womb could cause a sharp pain in the pelvis.
  • Presence of a clear white, slightly pinkish, and blood-tinged vaginal discharge. This bloody-looking discharge is actually the thick mucus plug, that falls from the cervix as childbirth draws near.
  • Leg cramps. This painful condition usually occurs at night. Flex your ankle and toes towards the shin to reduce pain.
  • Backache. This is caused by the pressure the baby’s head exerts as it moves further down the pelvis. Changes in posture can also cause backache.
  • Low blood pressure. This is due to hormonal changes that expand the blood vessels. The growing uterus puts pressure on these expanded blood vessels and reduces blood flow from the heart to the body’s lower parts.
  • Varicose veins and hemorrhoids. Reduced blood flow to the heart can make blood pool in the leg veins and near the rectum, leading to varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
  • Frequent urination. Trips to the restroom increase as the growing uterus puts pressure on your bladder. Greater blood flow to the kidneys and relaxed urinary tract muscles also lead to frequent urination.
  • Swelling. Your hands, face and feet become severely bloated. Higher estrogen levels cause water retention. Avoid swelling by raising your feet. Rotate ankles clockwise and counterclockwise to ease discomfort. Stretch toes in and out. Walk as regularly as possible.
  • Hot flashes. Help yourself by choosing loose clothes and taking lots of water and juice.

What should I be concerned about?

At 40 weeks of pregnancy, baby development, you should watch out for:

  • Foul-smelling discharge. This may signal an infection. Ask your doctor about it.
  • No sign of labor. At this point, it is sometimes advisable to give birth sooner rather than later. A dilated cervix means fewer chances of childbirth by cesarean section. Ask your doctor about the advantages and disadvantages of induced labor when you do not show any sign of labor.
  • Sore breasts. Try using nursing pads to keep nipples from rubbing against clothes.
  • Reduced fetal movement or fewer kick counts.
  • Pain during urination.
  • Nonstop abdominal pain
  • Bright red bleeding in the vagina
  • Fever and chills
  • No contractions after your water breaks
  • Yellowish or greenish liquid when your water breaks
  • Postpartum depression. Consult a doctor if you feel extra low and moody after childbirth.

Your Doctor Visits

What should I tell my doctor?

At 40 weeks of pregnancy baby development, you must discuss:

  • The timing of contractions. How long do they last? How far apart is one contraction from the next? Note when there are changes over time.
  • Pre-existing conditions. These include high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Induced or spontaneous labor
  • Breastfeeding
  • Rooming-in
  • Complications. These include placenta previa, breech birth, and others.
  • Sexual activity. This includes contraception and resumption of sexual contact after delivery because you can get pregnant soon after childbirth.
  • Post-delivery care and follow-up visits
  • Overdue delivery

What tests should I know about?

At 40 weeks of pregnancy baby development, you should undergo the following tests:

  • Pelvic examination to find out how far your cervix has expanded, thinned out, or softened. This will guide the doctor in determining when you will enter labor.
  • Amniotic fluid index (AFI), which checks the volume of amniotic fluid. The normal value is 5 to 25 cm. At 40 weeks of pregnancy, baby development the normal average value is 7 cm.
  • Non-stress test (NST) to check the baby’s heart rate and movements
  • Contraction stress test when NST results are not what they should be. This checks fetal heartbeat response during the contractions.
  • Biophysical profile test (BPP) is an ultrasound procedure that checks the baby’s movements, breathing, amniotic fluid, and body tone. This is done when NST values are not normal or when the baby’s well-being must be assured.
  • Pap test to determine the presence of abnormal cervical cells
  • Perineum exam to check swelling and/or episiotomy or tear recovery
  • Breast exam to check for abnormal growths and blocked milk ducts
  • Cesarean scar exam (if needed)
  • Postpartum depression screening

Health & Safety

What should I know about being healthy and safe while pregnant?

At 40 weeks of pregnancy baby development, you should continue staying healthy by:

  • Continuing to take prenatal vitamins.
  • Staying active unless you encounter swelling or pain.
  • Working out your pelvic floor through Kegel exercises.
  • Taking a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat protein, and fiber.
  • Drinking lots of water
  • Getting enough calories (around 300 more a day)
  • Staying mobile by walking
  • Staying calm and in control so you can handle labor pains well
  • Keeping teeth and gums healthy. Poor dental health can cause premature labor.
  • Getting lots of rest and sleep.

At 40 weeks of pregnancy baby development, you must avoid:

  • A heavy exercise that can hurt your belly
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine (do not consume over a cup of coffee or tea a day)
  • Smoking
  • Illegal drugs
  • Raw fish or smoked seafood
  • Shark, swordfish, mackerel, or white snapper fish which are laden with mercury
  • Raw sprouts
  • Cat litter, which can have a parasite that brings toxoplasmosis
  • Unpasteurized milk or other dairy products
  • Deli meats or hot dogs
  • Prescription drugs like isotretinoin (Accutane) for acne, acitretin (Soriatane) for psoriasis, thalidomide (Thalomid), and ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure
  • Long car trips and airplane flights

Forty weeks of pregnancy, baby development can signal the onset of childbirth. Your long wait for your baby may soon be over.

Hello Health Group does not offer any advice, diagnosis, or medical treatment.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Maridol Ranoa-Bismark Updated May 08, 2020
Medically reviewed by Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, M.D.