Your Body at Week 40 Pregnant
You’re About To Pop
At 40 weeks pregnant, you could go into labor at any minute. The third trimester was a blast and all, but you’re so ready to get this show on the road and finally meet your little bundle of joy. Contrary to what movies and TV shows have lead us all to believe, only 15 percent of women actually have their water break before they go into labor.
When your water (which is actually the amniotic sac fluid that cushioned your baby for the last nine months) does break before labor, it’s called premature rupture of membranes (PROM). It can be hard to tell if your water has actually broken and you may have a false alarm (or five). For example, it’s easy to mistake a trickle of urine for the “big moment!”
When your water breaks, it’ll typically feel like a slow leak or a gush of water. The fluid is usually either clear or pale yellow and has no scent, which is a good way to differentiate between urine and amniotic fluid. If you have any doubts or concerns, call your doctor. If you’re fairly confident your water has broken, make note of the time and then start timing your contractions.
Your water may or may not break before labor, but the contractions will definitely come and you’ll recognize those bad boys for what they are. In early labor, contractions last for between 30 and 60 seconds with a five to 20 minute break in between. When they get more intense (and yes, by “intense,” we mean “painful”), they’ll last for between 45 and 60 seconds and the breaks will shorten to between three and five minutes. This is active labor and it means it’s time to head to the nearest hospital because your baby is officially ready to enter the world and meet its mommy.
Your Baby at Week 40 Pregnant
At 40 weeks pregnant, your baby is about the size of a turducken or, well, an actual baby. They typically weigh in at anywhere between six and nine pounds, and are 19 to 22 inches long. If they’re a little smaller or larger than this, don’t sweat it.
It’s gotten quite crowded in your uterus, so your baby isn’t moving around much. You probably feel around ten kicks, jabs, or rolls per hour as they wait to make their grand entrance. If this is your first baby, they’re more likely to arrive fashionably late, but hang in there!
Except for the skull, your baby’s bones are now hard. The skull bones need to be soft and pliable in order for your baby to make the journey through the birth canal, and these bones actually won’t be fully formed and hardened until your baby is anywhere between eight and 15 months old. If you have a vaginal birth, when you first meet your baby, their head will likely be cone-shaped and possibly a bit bruised — but they’ll be absolutely perfect and beautiful (we didn’t need to tell you that, though).
Your Symptoms and Health at Week 40 Pregnant
Cervical Dilation & Effacement
As your body gets closer to going into labor, your cervix will slowly begin to open up and thin out. This is known as dilation and effacement, respectively. The process begins earlier for some women and it’s not something you feel — but during week 40 of pregnancy, cervical dilation and effacement are most likely happening. Dilation and effacement will continue throughout early and active labor.
Expect the Unexpected
You’ve planned everything and you know exactly what you want — and it’s entirely possible that the birth will be how you envisioned it. But there are certain things that are out of your control, so try to stay calm if things don’t go exactly as you planned. You got this, Mama. It’s time to meet your baby.
The contents of this article have been medically reviewed by Ruth A. Tessler, M.D. in July, 2019.
Written by Caitlin Flynn.
Follow Preggo Nancy’s pregnancy journey week-by-week and share in her joy, her symptoms, and even her pregnancy cravings.