40 Weeks Pregnant
You’re 40 weeks pregnant! This is the week you’ve been waiting for. The date that’s been circled on your calendar is passing.
Of course, this doesn’t mean your baby or your body is ready to give birth. Only 3-5% of babies are born on their estimated due date.
Keep in mind that many babies, especially those in first pregnancies, arrive late.
Unfortunately, your mind has likely zeroed in on this week’s date, so if it passes without the arrival of your baby, you may start to feel a little stressed out.
Try to relax. Most babies will come without intervention, in their own time. Keep busy to keep your mind off when baby will come. However, it’s also a good idea to try and rest as much as is physically possible, since you have some sleepless nights ahead.
Your Body When You’re 40 Weeks Pregnant
You’ll continue to see your midwife or doctor weekly, so you’ll be up to date on how your body is doing, and any signs of impending labour.
Once your due date passes, it’s a good idea to go ahead and read up about labour induction, just in case it’s put on the table. If you haven’t already, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about their beliefs and philosophies around induction of labour and how long they are comfortable to wait before inducing labour.
There are 5 main forms of induction, however the most commonly used is synthetic oxytocin, given via an intravenous drip.
Labour induction involves checking you into hospital and attaching you to the drip. The drug is called Syntocinon in Australia or Pitocin in the US. This is the man made form of the hormone oxytocin, which is produced by the brain when you go into labour naturally. However, synthetic oxytocin doesn’t work the same way as natural oxytocin – it doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier.
The synthetic oxytocin will cause contractions to start, and your body will progress into labour. Unfortunately, some inductions do fail, which means a c-section is the next step.
If your cervix is not sufficiently effaced (thinned out ready for labour), you will need a prostaglandin treatment before you can be induced. Usually, this treatment is given about 12 hours before induction is to start.
Most women who need both prostaglandin and induction are checked into the hospital in late evening. The prostaglandin treatment is given in the evening, and the synthetic oxytocin administered the next morning, after the doctor breaks your water.
In some women, induced labour moves much more quickly than natural labour. Labour pains may begin much more closely together, and may be much stronger from the start. For this reason, it’s important to have an idea of your pain management plan before you begin. It can always be changed, if needed, but it’s a good idea for your doctor to know your plans before the induction is administered, in case things move very quickly afterward.
Not every woman who goes past her due date will be scheduled for an induction right away. Most doctors wait until at least week 41, and many will wait beyond that. Remember, you’re still full term until 42 weeks, and if there are no signs that you or baby have any complications, you can tell your care provider that you want to wait. You might like to offer to come in for daily monitoring if push comes to shove.
Inductions are scheduled more quickly for older mums and for any woman who might have a medical condition that makes carrying the baby hard on her body.
Your Baby When You’re 40 Weeks Pregnant
Your baby’s weight is likely somewhere between 3 and 4 kg now, and she is anywhere from 47-53 cm long.
She continues to gain weight, and her lungs continue to develop until she’s ready to be born.