40 Weeks Pregnant
What’s happening this week?
You’re now 40 weeks pregnant and you’ve reached the end of your pregnancy. If there’s no signs of your baby yet, find out about natural ways to induce labour.
How is my baby developing?
At 40 weeks pregnant, this week marks your due date. However, only 5% of babies are born on their due date!
If you don’t go into labour naturally over the next 2 weeks, your doctor will induce you as post-term babies are at higher risk of stress. Your baby is fully formed ready for delivery and may weigh around 3-4 kg and measure 50-52 cm.
How is my body changing?
You’re 40 weeks pregnant and wishing your baby decides to come out! It’s time to be patient and wait for signs that labour is starting, which may include pelvic pressure, bloody show, flu-like symptoms, waters breaking, cervix dilation and contractions.
You may have gained 30-35 pounds. This is the recommended weight for average size women, if you’re underweight you may need up to 40 pounds, or if you’re overweight, you should restrict your weight gain to 15-25 pounds.
Occasionally, women may need a little assistance during delivery in the form of forceps or a ventouse. These may be used if you baby stops moving down the birth canal and is in distress.
Forceps are like tongs and are placed on the sides of your baby’s head and a ventouse is like a cup, placed on your baby’s head. Both are used to pull your baby down. They may cause a little bruising, but done properly, will not cause any lasting damage.
How to induce labour
You’re 40 weeks pregnant, and you may be thinking about natural ways to induce labour. Just make sure you don’t do anything that may harm your baby.
- Sexual intercourse is the most popular option! Semen contains prostaglandins, which stimulate the cervix to contract. Orgasms can also trigger labour.
- Walking can help your baby to move down into your pelvic area ready for delivery.
- Spicy foods, in particular cumin and garlic.
- Nipple stimulation can cause the release of oxytocin, which causes uterine contractions and induces labour.
- Castor oil triggers spasms in the intestine, which may be able to start uterine contractions. However, NEVER try this without speaking to your healthcare provider first.
- Membrane striping, done by your doctor, may help labour to start. This may release prstaglandins, which promote the onset of labour.
- Supplementation with evening primrose oil may help soften the cervix, but ask your healthcare provider first.
These methods only work if your body is ready for labour, so don’t try anything before you’re 40 weeks pregnant. If still no signs of baby by 42 weeks, as a last resort, your doctor may have to use chemicals to induce your labour.
These mimic the effects of hormones needed to trigger labour, but may cause contractions much stronger and much quicker than normal labour would.