40 Weeks Pregnant Baby Size

40 Weeks Pregnant: Your Baby's Development

At 40 weeks pregnant, your little one could arrive any day, but he might also prefer a few more weeks in the coziness of your belly. If you don’t go into labor within a week of your expected due date, your healthcare provider will keep an extra close eye on your baby’s heart rate and movement to be sure that all is well. Your baby’s head has likely dropped lower into your pelvis, and his body is curled up tightly. He doesn't have much choice — it's pretty crowded in there. If your baby is in a breech position (rump down), your provider may attempt to turn him by placing firm pressure on your abdomen. If that doesn't work, your provider may discuss the possibility of a cesarean delivery with you. You've been getting ready to meet your baby, and he's been getting ready to meet you too! His little body has been gaining fat up until this point so that he can more easily adjust to life outside the womb, and his liver, lungs, and brain are also still developing.

The Size of the Fetus at 40 Weeks Pregnant

At 40 weeks, the average fetus is about the size of a pumpkin. On average, babies weigh between six and nine pounds at birth, and measure between 18 and 20 inches from crown to rump. This is just an average — pretty soon you’ll know your baby’s exact birth weight and length. Although not ever baby is positioned in the head-down position this week, here’s an illustration of how your baby may be positioned at 40 weeks:

Mom's Body at 40 Weeks Pregnant

Your body has done an amazing job of housing and nourishing your baby throughout your pregnancy. Read on to discover what happens during labor and delivery for both a vaginal delivery and a cesarean section. Vaginal birth If you’re having a vaginal birth, when the time comes you’ll go through three stages of labor before you get to meet your baby. During the first stage, which includes two phases called early and active labor, your cervix will start to open by stretching and thinning. At this stage you’ll feel contractions that start out in your back area and move towards your belly. These contractions move your baby lower down into the birth canal. Although each woman's labor experience is different, some moms-to-be can be in the early labor phase for as many as 14 to 20 hours before progressing to active labor, which is when the cervix is dilated about 6 centimeters. Active labor may last between four and eight hours. It’s not uncommon to spend most of early labor at home; your healthcare provider will be able to give you personalized advice as to when you should head to the hospital. When you start to notice the early signs of labor, try to make the time as relaxing as possible. You might want to go for a walk or take a warm bath at home, or you could listen to your favorite music or start practicing any breathing techniques you’ve learned in your childbirth education classes. Once your cervix is fully dilated (10 centimeters), you’ve made it to the second stage of labor. This is when you will be encouraged to push to help move your baby through the birth canal and out into the world. This part is usually a bit quicker (lasting between about half an hour to three hours, on average) but can be more physically demanding and painful than the earlier stage of labor. Finally, after you deliver your baby, you’ll reach the third and final stage of labor. This is when you’ll deliver the placenta. You’ll probably still feel contractions as the placenta detaches from the uterus and comes out, but this stage is usually quicker and less uncomfortable than delivering your baby. If you haven’t already, you might like to read up on the medical interventions that your healthcare provider may recommend or that you may prefer. These include having an epidural or getting an episiotomy. Discuss your preferences for either with your provider in advance, or add your preferences to your birth plan. If you’re unsure exactly what your preferences are, ask your provider why such medical interventions may be recommended, and what the risks and benefits are of each. Cesarean section Not all moms-to-be deliver vaginally. You may have a scheduled cesarean section, or your healthcare provider may decide that a c-section is the best course of action once you’re already in labor. For a cesarean delivery, you’ll first be given anesthesia to numb you or put you to sleep before surgery. Then, after being prepped for surgery, your doctor will make an incision in your abdomen and uterus and remove the baby and placenta manually. If your c-section is planned, it’s likely that your partner will be allowed in the operating room with you during surgery.

40 Weeks Pregnant: Your Symptoms

At 40 weeks pregnant, here are some of the symptoms you may be experiencing:

  • Snoring. Most moms-to-be experience some changes in their breathing during pregnancy, and you might be snoring more than usual as you approach your due date. This could be because hormonal changes can cause your nasal passages to dry out. If snoring is a problem for you or your partner, try using a humidifier in your bedroom or sleeping with nasal strips across your nose.

  • Losing the mucus plug. During pregnancy, this plug sealed off your cervix to prevent bacteria from entering your uterus. When you go into labor — or even a few days or weeks before — you’ll lose this plug. You might not even notice it but, if you do, it can look like a pinkish, bloody, or clear discharge.

  • Contractions. You may have felt Braxton Hicks contractions earlier in your pregnancy, but you’ll know it’s the real deal when your contractions hit at regular intervals and come more and more frequently. Another way to tell true labor contractions from the false variety is that true labor contractions will not subside when you move or change positions. If you think you are experiencing true labor contractions, or you’re unsure, contact your healthcare provider for advice. You can also download and print our contraction tracking chart to help keep track of your contractions more easily.

  • Water breaking. This happens when the amniotic sac surrounding your baby ruptures, releasing the amniotic fluid. It can be one of the signs of labor at 40 weeks pregnant. Your water can break several hours before labor starts or even once labor has begun. When it happens, you might find it’s not as dramatic as the movies would have us believe. Some moms-to-be experience a gush of fluid and others only notice a trickle. Watch our video guide to learn more about what happens when your water breaks.

40 Weeks Pregnant: Things to Consider

40 Weeks Pregnant: Ask Your Doctor

  • At this stage, do you recommend waiting or inducing labor?

  • What, if anything, can you do at home to jumpstart labor? Can castor oil help induce labor?

  • Is it safe to have sex so close to your due date?

  • What should you do if you notice changes in how much your baby is moving?

  • What should you expect in terms of postpartum recovery? Are there any postpartum symptoms you should contact your healthcare provider about?

  • How soon after giving birth can you start breastfeeding? (If this is something you would like to do.)

40 Weeks Pregnant: Your Checklist

  • Check with your hospital or birth center to see if their facilities include bathtubs or showers that you can use during labor. Some moms-to-be find that this hydrotherapy can help lessen pain and discomfort.

  • Read up on how to time contractions.

  • Make a list of all the people you want to tell as soon as your little one’s born so you don’t forget anyone. If you plan to make a social media announcement you may want to draft something now, then just fill in details like the time of birth and your baby’s weight later on.

  • If you haven’t got your hospital bag packed and ready to go at 40 weeks pregnant, now would be a really good time to start getting together the essential items you’ll be needing at the hospital or birthing center. Use our handy hospital bag checklist to make sure there’s nothing you’ve missed.

  • Download the Pampers Club app to earn discounts and gifts on all the diapers and wipes you’ll be buying in the coming years.

  • If possible, organize some help around the house for the first few days and weeks after your baby is born. Friends, neighbors, or nearby family members may be happy to pitch in with meal preparation, grocery shopping, or caring for your older children.

  • Have a few spare minutes of downtime before the big day arrives? You might want to take a look at our video guides that can help you navigate the first few weeks with your newborn.

  • It’s not too late to source any last-minute items you still need ahead of your baby’s arrival. For example, check out the best diaper bags, the best swaddle blankets, and the best nursery gliders as voted by thousands of Pampers Parents.

  • Sign up for even more weekly pregnancy tips.