40 weeks pregnant: Any day now
This is it, your last week of pregnancy. Officially anyway. The thing is, babies don’t keep a diary, or have notifications turned on, so it’s perfectly normal to deliver either side of your due date.
Week by week guide
Week by week guide
Week by week guide
At a glance
Maintain your energy levels by eating little and often, with the occasional treat
Don’t worry if there’s a bit of a delay – it’s normal for babies to be overdue
If you’re more than 14 days overdue, you’ll be offered an induction
Keep your hospital bag and birth plan by the front door ready to go
Baby’s development at 40 weeks
At this stage, there are no new developments. Your baby at 40 weeks is ready to be born and you’re both just waiting for the big day now. Tick tock, tick tock…
One thing isn’t quite finished, however - but it’s totally by design. Baby’s two cranial bones haven’t fused together yet. This is so they can press together during birth to help baby squeeze through the birth canal. The gaps between the bones in your baby’s head will fully close within about 18 months. As engineering goes, it’s pretty impressive.
Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t make its appearance on the exact, calculated due date. It’s quite normal for babies (especially firstborns) to be overdue. However, if your labour hasn’t begun after the due date, your doctor or midwife will discuss with you the possibility of inducing the birth.
Changes in you and your body at 40 weeks
This is the last official week of your pregnancy. Once baby is born you can finally put a name to a face. You’ll find carrying the baby outside the womb quite different especially since it’s no longer hands-free. Both your body and your days are about to get busy. Physically you will be gearing up for breastfeeding which gives the best possible start for your baby. Here’s a few things you can do to prepare for it.
Breastfeeding techniques. Read up on getting your baby to ‘latch on’ or suckle, and the best ways to hold your baby when breastfeeding. Here’s some handy advice on breastfeeding techniques.
Breastfeeding essentials. From nursing bras and support pillows, to breast pads, breast pumps and nipple cream, gather the things you’ll need so you’re ready to go as soon as baby is.
Breastfeeding diet. It’s important to continue eating well following the birth. As well as helping you recover, your diet needs to provide the nutrients both you and baby need while you’re breastfeeding, because, technically, you’re still ‘eating for two’ (well, one and a bit, really). Keep up your strength with these nutrition tips and advice.
If you choose not to breastfeed, remember that your body will automatically go through the process of preparing for it. So you may need a pack of breastpads for those first leaky days. Speak with your healthcare professional about how best to deal with the physical changes and effects you’re likely to experience.
Comfy clothes. While some mums’ bodies appear to snap back quickly, many women find they still have a bit of a soft bump for some time. So it’s nice to have some stretchy clothes ready to wear yourself. It’s so much easier to adapt to your new role as mum when you’re comfortable. Remember, your body has just done something amazing, so don’t put pressure on yourself to achieve a certain look or weight. Your happiness and your baby’s healthy growth are the most important things.
Pregnancy nutrition at 40 weeks
As previously mentioned, a nutritious pregnancy diet will give your little one the healthiest start in life. That’s why you’ve been eating so well for the last nine months. But with your stomach so squashed in the last few weeks of pregnancy, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to handle a three-course meal in one sitting.
Instead, you can maintain your energy levels by eating little and often. Now’s the time to indulge yourself a bit and enjoy a few treats - you’ve earned it.
Depending on your personal birth plan, most midwives will lay your baby on your chest straight after birth. This is known as ‘skin-to-skin’ contact.
Feeling your warmth, smelling your skin, recognising your voice and hearing your heartbeat will help your new arrival feel comfortable and safe while they adjust to the world. And you won’t be able to keep your eyes (or hands) off this incredible little being you’ve just spent nine months making.
It’s also a great time to put your newborn to your breast to suckle for the first time. At this point, it’s more about bonding than feeding, so don’t worry too much about getting it right. Focus instead on holding your baby, stroking them and speaking to them and enjoying this very special moment. You may be surprised at how instinctively baby goes for the breast, this is called the ‘rooting reflex’.