Pregnancy Week 40

Congratulations! You will probably be welcoming your baby this week. Here is a list of things to remember.

Pregnancy Week 40 – What Changes are Occurring With Your Body?

Mother in labor after being pregnant for 40 weeks

During pushing and delivery, your baby’s head will begin to make an appearance through your vaginal opening with each contraction. When your baby’s head remains visible and does not slip back in, it is known as crowning.

As your baby’s head crowns, you will experience a burning or stinging sensation, often referred to as the ring of fire, as your baby stretches the vaginal opening. As soon as you feel this, stop pushing! If you continue to push and bear down, you increase your risk of tearing or needing an episiotomy.

The burning or stinging sensation only lasts for a short time and is followed by a numb feeling. This is due to your baby’s head stretching your vaginal tissue so thin that the nerves are blocked. The result is a natural anesthetic.

Pregnancy Week 40 – Tips to Fight That Urge to Push:

  • Lean back and try to go limp.
  • Make a conscious effort to relax the muscles of the perineal floor (the layers of muscles and tissue between the vagina and rectum).
  • Focus your energy into deep breathing techniques.
  • Allow your contractions to do the work for you during this time.

How Big is Your Baby?

Your baby should be between 19 and 21 inches (48.3 to  53.3 cm) long and weigh anywhere from 6 ¾ to 10 pounds (3 to 4.5 kg). If you are having a boy, then he is most likely on the larger side of these ranges, because on average boys are bigger than girls.*

Pregnancy Week 40 – What is Happening With Your Baby?

Your baby’s bones have become hard, with the exception of his/her skull. The bones in the skull need to remain soft and pliable for delivery so that they can overlap as they pass through the birth canal. Because a newborn’s skull is designed this way, your baby’s head may have a cone appearance for the first several days of life. Your baby will actually have two soft spots, or fontanelles, on his/her head which allow for an easier delivery. The front fontanelle will become hard between the eighth and fifteenth month of life. The back fontanelle becomes hard between the third and fourth month.*

Pregnancy Week 40 – What Should You Plan for This Week?

During this last visit be prepared for the following tests:

Your healthcare provider will discuss the following possibilities:

Tips for Making Your Pregnancy Better:

Once you have delivered your baby, he/she will be given their first test in life, the APGAR. Put away the flash cards, and don’t expect too much too early; rarely does any baby get a perfect score on this test. Although it is your child’s first assessment, it is not a predictor of their future behavior or intellect.

The APGAR is a quick assessment of overall newborn well being. The APGAR is used immediately following the delivery of the baby. The scores are recorded at one minute and five minutes of life. At the one minute APGAR, scores between seven and ten indicate that the baby will need only routine post delivery care. At the five minute APGAR, a score of seven to ten is normal.

Tips for Mom’s Partner:

You and your partner may hear of a wide variety of techniques to help labor get started. While it may be tempting to try one or all of these, it is important that you discuss these wives’ tales with your healthcare provider before utilizing them. Most of these techniques have not proven to be consistently effective, and some are not safe.

Last Updated: 11/2008