40 Weeks Pregnant—What To Expect And Best Ways To Prepare For Delivery

40 Weeks Pregnant

At 40 weeks pregnant, you’re ready to give birth any day now! This is a time of excitement and anticipation as you enter the week of your due date. 

Know that these are all normal feelings if you’re feeling nervous, anxious, joyful, or terrified. You’re about to complete your pregnancy journey and embark on a new journey of motherhood, and that’s a big deal!

Below is useful information on your baby’s development by pregnancy week 40, your symptoms, self-care for this week, and FAQs for moms-to-be. 

Congratulations on making it this far in your journey, and good luck on the journey ahead

Pregnancy Nutrition Course

Your baby at 40 weeks pregnant

By 40 weeks pregnant, your baby is considered full term, likely weighs around 7 to 9 pounds, and measures about 20 to 22 inches long. 

Here are some other developments that may be happening at this stage:

Final stages of lung development

Your baby’s lungs will continue to mature until delivery, but by this point, they should be fully developed and ready to breathe independently outside of the womb.

Shedding of vernix and lanugo

The white, waxy substance called vernix that has been protecting your baby’s skin will begin to shed, and the fine hair called lanugo that has covered their body will disappear.

Brain development

Your baby’s brain has been developing rapidly throughout pregnancy and will continue to do so after birth. They are forming the final connections between neurons, which will help with their cognitive, behavioral, and physical development.

Digestive system

Your baby’s digestive system is fully formed and ready for its first meal. After birth, they can start digesting breast milk or formula.

Sleeping patterns

Your baby is likely sleeping a lot at this stage, and you may notice their sleep and wake patterns beginning to align with your own.

Note that every baby develops at their own pace, so not all babies will reach these milestones simultaneously.

Your symptoms at 40 weeks pregnant

At 40 weeks, you’re considered to be at full term and may experience various symptoms as you prepare for labor and delivery. Here are some common pregnancy symptoms at 40 weeks:

Braxton Hicks contractions

These irregular contractions may feel like a tightening or hardening of the uterus. They are usually painless and help to prepare the body for labor.

Increased vaginal discharge

As the body prepares for labor, the cervix may start to soften and thin out, causing an increase in vaginal discharge.

Back pain

As the baby drops lower into the pelvis, it can pressure the lower back, causing discomfort and pain.

40 Weeks Pregnant


As the body prepares for labor and delivery, many women may feel more tired than usual.

Trouble sleeping

Finding a comfortable sleeping position can become difficult as the baby grows larger and takes up more space in the uterus.

Increased frequency of urination

As the baby drops lower into the pelvis, it can put pressure on the bladder, causing the need to urinate more frequently.

Diarrhea or loose stools

In preparation for labor, the body may release prostaglandins, which can cause the bowels to become more active.

Every woman’s experience during pregnancy is unique, and not all women will experience the same symptoms. 

If you have any concerns or questions about your pregnancy symptoms, it’s always best to speak with your healthcare provider.

Self-care at 40 weeks pregnant

Practicing self-care is essential during pregnancy, especially as you approach your due date. Your health is your baby’s health as you come to the end of this miraculous journey. 

Here are some self-care tips that may be helpful at 40 weeks pregnant:

  1. Rest and relaxation: Getting enough rest is crucial during pregnancy, especially as you approach your due date. Take frequent breaks throughout the day and prioritize getting enough sleep at night.
  2. Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water is important for both you and your baby. Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water daily to stay hydrated.
  3. Gentle exercise: Gentle exercises, such as walking or prenatal yoga, can help to relieve stress and tension in the body. It can also help to prepare your body for labor and delivery.
  4. Pamper yourself: Treat yourself to a prenatal massage, a warm bath, or other self-care activities that make you feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
  5. Eat well: Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important during pregnancy. Focus on eating nutrient-dense foods that will give you and your baby the necessary nutrients.
  6. Connect with loved ones: Spending time with loved ones and engaging in activities that make you feel happy and supported can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
  7. Prepare for labor and delivery: Taking a childbirth education class, packing your bag for the hospital or birth center, and creating a birth plan can help you feel more prepared and in control as you approach your due date.

How to prepare for delivery

Preparing for delivery can help you feel more confident and in control as you approach your due date. 

Here are some things you can do to prepare for delivery:

  1. Attend childbirth education classes: Childbirth education classes can help you understand what to expect during labor and delivery and provide you with techniques for coping with pain and stress.
  2. Create a birth plan: A birth plan can help you communicate your preferences for labor and delivery to your healthcare provider. It can include your preferred labor positions, pain management options, and who you want to present during delivery.
  3. Pack your hospital bag: Pack a bag with essentials for your hospital stay, including comfortable clothing, toiletries, and anything else to help you feel more comfortable at the hospital or birthing center during labor and after delivery.
  4. Choose a healthcare provider: It’s important to have one you trust and feel comfortable with. Choose a provider who aligns with your values and preferences for childbirth.
  5. Practice relaxation techniques: Practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or visualization, can help you cope with pain and stress during labor and delivery.
  6. Consider a doula: doula is a trained professional who provides emotional and physical support during labor and delivery. Consider hiring a doula to provide additional support and guidance during childbirth.
  7. Discuss your options for pain management: Talk to your healthcare provider about your options for pain management during labor, including natural pain relief techniques, epidurals, and other medication options.

Remember, every birth experience is unique, and it’s important to be flexible and open to changes in your birth plan. 

Trust in your body and your healthcare provider, and don’t be afraid to ask for support or clarification.

FAQs at 40 Weeks pregnant

Is it normal to reach 40 weeks in pregnancy?

It’s completely normal to reach 40 weeks in pregnancy. Forty weeks is considered full-term, meaning that the baby has reached a point of development where they are ready to be born.

Note that not all pregnancies last exactly 40 weeks. Some babies may be born a few weeks before or after their due date because due dates are estimated based on the first day of the mother’s last menstrual period and may not always be accurate.

40 Weeks Pregnant

What happens if you don’t go into labor at 40 weeks?

If you don’t go into labor at 40 weeks, your healthcare provider may recommend monitoring your pregnancy more closely to ensure your baby is healthy.

Your healthcare provider may perform non-stress tests to monitor your baby’s heart rate and movements and perform an ultrasound to check your baby’s growth and the amount of amniotic fluid in your uterus.

If everything appears normal, your healthcare provider may discuss the possibility of waiting a bit longer for labor to start on its own as long as there are no medical concerns for you or your baby. 

However, if there are concerns about your baby’s health, your healthcare provider may recommend labor induction to ensure your and your baby’s safety.

What causes a baby to be overdue?

The exact cause of why some babies are overdue is not fully understood, but several factors may contribute to it:

  1. Incorrect due date: The due date is calculated based on the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period and may not always be accurate. If the due date is miscalculated, the baby may not be overdue.
  2. Genetics: Some research suggests that genetics may affect a pregnancy’s length. Babies born to mothers who were overdue may be more likely to be overdue.
  3. First-time pregnancy: First-time pregnancies are more likely to go past the due date than subsequent pregnancies.
  4. Age of the mother: Women over 35 are more likely to have overdue pregnancies.
  5. Health of the mother: Certain conditions, such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or thyroid disorders, may increase the likelihood of an overdue pregnancy.

Even if your baby is overdue, it does not necessarily mean something is wrong with your baby or pregnancy. 

However, healthcare providers will usually monitor overdue pregnancies more closely to ensure that the baby is healthy and to consider the possibility of induction if necessary.

Pregnancy Nutrition Course

How many days overdue can you go?

Full-term pregnancy is defined as lasting between 37 and 42 weeks, so it’s possible to go up to two weeks past your due date. Most healthcare providers will not consider a pregnancy “overdue” until after 42 weeks. 

However, they will likely monitor you and your baby more closely as you approach the 42-week mark to ensure that everything is still going well.

If you are approaching 42 weeks and have not gone into labor, your healthcare provider may recommend inducing labor to ensure the safety of you and your baby. Induction of labor may involve using medications or other techniques to start contractions and bring on labor.

It’s important to discuss your options with your healthcare provider and to attend all prenatal appointments so that they can monitor your pregnancy and ensure a safe and healthy delivery for you and your baby.

What does it feel like to give birth?

The experience of giving birth is unlike any other, and you may experience it differently from someone else.

The stages of labor are known as early and active labor. 

Early labor begins when you first feel those labor-signaling contractions. When it comes to actually pushing during labor – the second stage, or ‘active labor’ – you may feel a similar sensation to needing to move your bowels.

Each time you push, your baby moves slightly further down the birth canal. You will push until your baby’s head remains visible (this is called ‘crowning’) and then continue to push as guided by your midwife until your baby’s birth.


If you don’t go into labor this week, it will most likely happen next week. 

If you give birth this week, remember to take it easy in the following days, weeks, and months. Sure, there’s a lot more to think about now that your baby has arrived, but you’ve been through a lot over these past nine months, and you deserve to slow down and go easy.

Remember that every pregnancy is different, and however yours goes is completely normal. 

Whether you had a cesarean or vaginal birth, you’ll be in recovery from a monumental journey, and you deserve all the rest and relaxation you feel necessary.

You might Also like...

Subscribe to
receive your FREE
"58 Newborn Essentials"
Registry Guide