pregnancy week 40

Your developing baby

Although you reach your estimated due date this week, not all mothers (especially first timers) give birth around that date.

First time mothers averagely go over their due dates by eight days and second time mothers by three days. At your antenatal appointment this week you will be checked just to make sure you and your baby are doing well.

Your baby probably measures around 14 to 15 inches in length and is now completely ready to be born. When you meet your baby you may be surprised by how he looks, as newborns don’t often resemble chubby picture-perfect babies, because they are often swollen from their journey down the birth canal. They are more likely to be born with puffy eyes, (sometimes crossed-eyes) rashes and misshapen heads from their squashed journey. Don’t worry, all these conditions are minor and will disappear a few days after birth.

Your developing body

You are probably feeling big, frustrated and anxious to meet your baby. Read up about ways you can kick-start labour at home, from nipple stimulation to walking in the park! You may also be worrying about what contractions feel like and whether you’ll know you are in labour. The general rule is; if you can’t speak during a contraction – you are in labour! When your contractions get to five minutes apart and last for 45 to 60 seconds its time to go to the hospital.

The latent stage of labour can last for a good few hours so make sure you have your birthing ball and TENS machine ready and waiting.

Most women go into labour about 24 hours after their waters have broken and sometimes labour can start without the waters having ruptured. If this is the case the midwives will probably break your waters for you. If your waters break at home, phone the hospital to inform them and make a note of what they look like, how much water there is and whether there is a greeny black colour to them as could mean your baby has passed a meconium stool and you may need medical attention.

Lots of women go overdue, especially with their first baby. Read up about what happens when you are overdue, and any methods, such as a membrane sweep, are used to help labour along. Keep taking short walks every day as activity can help to encourage your baby into a good position for birth.

You may not feel like it but sex can also help because female orgasms stimulate the first uterine contractions and semen contains the hormone prostaglandin, which softens the cervix, so having sex can be a double labour-starting whammy. On the downside, sex can be pretty difficult when your belly gets in the way, and you may not be feeling particularly sexy. Try lying on your side with your partner behind you, or on all fours with plenty of pillows to support your knees, or a bed or chair in front of you to support your forearms.

This is your last attempt to have a meal out with your partner before your baby (and mum-in-law, cousins, long lost aunties…) arrives. Enjoy each others company and give yourselves pats on the back for having already come so far on this amazing journey into parenthood. Oh, and if you do have a meal, make it a curry, because some women swear spicy foods helped to kick-start labour.

If you haven't read already-look at our guide on What contractions really feel like - and what to expect when meeting your newborn!

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