Pregnancy Information Center

Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources


Your Third Trimester - Week 40


Week 40


What's Happening to Your Body

Congratulations! After weeks of preparation, your baby is finally ready to be born! If your baby isn't ready yet, don't worry: 95% of women don’t deliver on their estimated due dates. In fact, many first-time mothers end up waiting up to 2 weeks beyond their due date for their baby to arrive. Just take your time and prepare yourself for your coming baby.

The first stage of labor works to stretch, thin (efface) and open (dilate) your cervix by contracting your uterus at regular lengths. When your cervix is completely dilated, you enter the second stage of labor, called the “pushing” stage. In this stage you push the baby through the birth canal (a 9-inch journey!) and out into the world into your welcoming arms. The third stage delivers the placenta.

If you don’t give birth within a week of your due date, the doctor might recommend that you take a nonstress test. This tests the heart rate of the fetus and checks its movement to see if it's healthy and getting enough oxygen. Your doctor might also induce labor by artificially breaking your water and/or injecting hormones if you're overdue. 


What's Happening to Your Baby

Your baby is the size of a small pumpkin. A baby born at week 40 measures about 20.2 inches (51.3 cm) long from head to heel and weighs on average 7 pounds (3.3 kg), or roughly the weight of a small pumpkin. 

At birth, your baby might be covered with some vernix and blood, and may have some skin discolorations. Don’t worry, this is all normal.

After birth, the mucous will be suctioned out of your baby’s mouth and you will hear the baby’s first cry. Some mothers elect to hold their baby right after delivery, before the umbilical cord is cut. This allows for bonding between mother and baby. The umbilical cord will then be cut, often by the baby’s father, and a series of quick tests (such as the Apgar, which checks breathing, heart rate, muscle tone, reflexes, and skin color) will be done. 

As your baby takes his or her first breaths, the umbilical cord will stop working and the breathing will trigger changes in the structure of the heart and arteries, diverting blood to the lungs to make them work now that baby's born.

Around 60% of newborns are diagnosed with jaundice — a buildup of yellow pigment in the skin — in the week after delivery. It's normal and caused by the immature liver's inability to process a waste product called bilirubin. Though jaundice can disappear on its own, the hospital may recommend light therapy to break down the excess bilirubin. 

At the time of birth, your baby has 300 bones — more than adults who have only 206 bones. Some of these bones will fuse together as the baby grows. Your baby also has 70 different reflexes at birth, ready to start his or her new life.

Congratulations on delivering your baby! Your journey through pregnancy has now come to an end and your family has grown. However, your journey with your newborn is just beginning. Enjoy!


In Case You Missed It: Week 39


Anna Omelchenko/iStock/ThinkStock
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