40 weeks pregnant

Your baby is the size of a


Welcome to the final stretch of your pregnancy journey! You’re now 40 weeks pregnant, and your belly is proudly carrying a full-term baby. Our article sheds light on what you can expect during this significant milestone. We’ll discuss the common symptoms you might experience at 40 weeks pregnant and how your body prepares for labour and delivery. Remember, every pregnancy is as unique as the baby it brings into the world, so read on and embrace these final moments with excitement and anticipation.

Highlights at 40 Weeks Pregnant

You’ve now been pregnant for 40 weeks! So, what should you know about or do during this special period?

  • At 40 weeks pregnant, your baby is approximately the size of a pumpkin and may have moved into a head-down position inside your bump in preparation for delivery.

  • It’s possible that you may experience a pinkish or bloody vaginal discharge, which is known as the mucus plug, and is a sign that labour may be near.

  • If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to educate yourself on both vaginal and caesarean delivery options, even if you haven't made a decision yet.

  • If you are still looking for the perfect name or you want to add to your shortlist, our Baby Name Generator can help:


Baby Name Generator

Baby name generator

By gender:




By theme:









Your Baby’s Development at 40 Weeks Pregnant

At 40 weeks pregnant your little one could arrive any day now; but then again, they might want to spend just a bit more time inside your cosy belly.

  • Your baby is now curled up tightly, and will usually be in a downward-facing position by this stage.

  • Not all babies get into the head-down position in time for labour, though. If your little one is still in the ‘breech’ position, with the bottom or feet facing downwards, for example, your midwife or doctor may offer to turn them by applying gentle pressure to your abdomen.

  • This procedure, known as External Cephalic Version (ECV), works about 50 percent of the time and is generally considered safe. Your midwife or doctor can tell you more about the risks and benefits.

  • If this doesn’t work, you may be offered a caesarean section. Keep in mind that not all ‘breech’ babies are born by caesarean section. In some cases, a vaginal birth may be the safest option.

  • The type of birth that’s best in your situation depends on a variety of factors specific to your pregnancy, including the position of your little one’s feet and how the placenta is positioned inside your uterus.

  • If the need arises, your doctor or midwife will discuss the available options with you, based on an assessment of your situation.

How Many Months is 40 Weeks Pregnant

Now that you’ve been pregnant for a whopping 40 weeks, you may be wondering how many months that translates to. Although there are various ways to group the weeks into months, we generally consider 40 weeks to be nine months pregnant.

Your Baby's Size at 40 Weeks Pregnant

Now that you’re 40 weeks pregnant, your baby is about the size of a pumpkin, measuring close to 51.2 centimetres from head to heel, and weighing in at around 3.5 kilograms (7.7 pounds).

These are just average figures though. It’s not long now until you discover the actual weight and length of your newborn baby.

Your Baby: What Does 40 Weeks Pregnant Look Like?

Although not every baby is positioned in the head-down position this week, here’s an illustration of how they may be positioned inside your bump at 40 weeks pregnant:

Your Body at 40 Weeks Pregnant

Your due date is at 40 weeks, but labour can start anytime between 38 to 42 weeks. You have done a great job of nourishing and housing your baby throughout your pregnancy, and now it's time to prepare for childbirth.

Take the time to ask questions and read on to discover what happens during labour and delivery for both vaginal delivery and a caesarean section.

The First Stage of Labour

Whether it’s now, at 40 weeks pregnant, or a little later, once you start to feel the early signs of labour it probably won’t be long before the first stage begins. These early signs at 40 weeks pregnant or around this time, could include period-like pains, cramping, an unusual backache or even just feeling a little sick.

More obvious signs might be your waters breaking, or a pink or blood-streaked discharge as your mucus plug is released.

Sooner or later though, you’ll start to feel regular contractions, which will get stronger and more frequent as your labour progresses.

Contractions help slowly open up (dilate) your cervix in the first stage of labour. This is usually the longest part of labour. Your midwife or doctor may advise you to spend the early part of labour in the comfortable, familiar surroundings of your own home, rather than heading for the hospital as soon as you start experiencing contractions.

Try to make this time as relaxing as possible. You might like to try some of the relaxation techniques you may have learned at birthing classes.

Your midwife may have told you when to call them and when to head for the hospital or birthing centre. Most experts recommend calling your doctor or midwife once you start having regular contractions (every 5 minutes and for at least 60 seconds). Also let your midwife or doctor know if your waters break, if the contractions are so strong that you might need pain relief, or if there’s anything you’re worried or unsure about.

The Second Stage of Labour

Once your cervix is fully dilated to about 10 centimetres (your midwife or doctor will be able to tell you when this has happened), the second stage of labour begins.

You’ll be asked to push during contractions if you feel that urge. When your baby’s head is nearly out, you may be asked to stop pushing and take shorter breaths, to let the head come out slowly. This allows the skin and muscles in your perineum (the area between your anus and vagina) to stretch gradually, reducing the risk of tearing.

Sometimes you may be offered an episiotomy – where a small cut is made in the perineum – to reduce the risk even more.

Once the head is born, the rest of your baby usually comes out fairly quickly and easily.

Third Stage of Labour

The third stage of labour takes place after your baby is born. This is when your uterus contracts and the placenta is delivered.

Sometimes treatment may be available to speed up this process, but your midwife will discuss the risks and benefits of this with you.

Caesarean Birth

Not all pregnant people have a vaginal birth. You may have opted for an elective caesarean section, or perhaps factors arise during your pregnancy or labour that make it necessary to have one.

If you have a caesarean section, the doctor will deliver your baby through an incision made in your tummy and uterus. This is usually done under a spinal or epidural anaesthetic, so you won’t feel any pain.

After the operation, you’ll be given an injection of oxytocin, the hormone that would be naturally released during a vaginal birth. This helps your uterus to contract and regain its original shape.

Just like after a vaginal birth, you’ll experience a discharge made up of blood, mucus and tissue (known as lochia) for several weeks after your baby is born.

The operation itself commonly takes around 40 to 50 minutes. If you were wondering whether having a caesarean section means you miss out on skin-to-skin contact when you’re little one is born, don’t worry: In most cases, you and your birth partner will be able to hold your baby immediately after delivery.

You may worry that having your first baby by caesarean section means any other babies will also have to be born this way, but this isn’t necessarily so. A little extra monitoring might be needed, but usually, it’s safe to have a vaginal birth after a caesarean if that’s your choice. Whatever kind of birth you have (even if not everything goes quite as expected), your doctor and midwife are there to help you make the best choices for you and your little one.

It won’t be long now before you’re holding your newborn baby in your arms!


Giving Birth
Labour advice and tips for childbirth

Your Symptoms at 40 Weeks Pregnant

Here are some of the symptoms you may be experiencing at 40 weeks pregnant:

  • Cramps or period pain. If you feel period-like pains, cramping or a lot of pressure but no contractions at any time around 40 weeks pregnant, this could be a sign that your labour is about to start. Let your midwife or doctor know if you notice this, especially if it’s accompanied by other symptoms such as an unusual backache, feeling sick or regular contractions begin.

  • Losing the mucus plug. For most of your pregnancy, the opening to the uterus – known as the cervix – has been sealed with a plug of mucus. Just before labour starts, or sometimes in the early stages of labour itself, this plug becomes detached and comes out of your vagina. This is called a ‘show’, and it indicates that your cervix is starting to open. You may not notice the mucus plug, but if you do, you might see a sticky, jelly-like blob of clear, pink or blood-streaked mucus on your underwear or on the toilet paper after you wipe. The pink colour happens if the mucous is tinged with small traces of blood. This is normal, but if there’s a lot of blood, call your midwife or doctor immediately.

  • Contractions. You may have already experienced Braxton Hicks contractions from time to time, and perhaps you’re wondering if you’ll be able to tell when the real ones hit. Once true labour contractions start, you’ll probably notice that they’re coming at regular intervals and becoming progressively stronger, longer-lasting and closer together as time passes. If you think your contractions may have started, or you’re unsure whether it’s Braxton Hicks or true labour contractions, call your midwife or doctor.

  • Waters breaking. Your little one is surrounded by a bag of fluid called the amniotic sac, which has protected them since the very beginning of your pregnancy. At some point, the membranes holding this fluid in will break or rupture, letting the fluid out. This is what’s referred to as your waters breaking. For most pregnant people this happens during labour, but it can also happen earlier. It might be a gush, or just a trickle of clear, pale straw-coloured liquid. You may have trouble telling it apart from urine, and it could be a little bloodstained. Symptoms not to ignore at 40 weeks pregnant, or whenever your waters break, include the fluid being smelly or coloured, or if you’re bleeding from the vagina. These could indicate a problem that needs urgent treatment.

What Size Is a Pregnant Belly at 40 Weeks?

Your uterus has probably finished expanding now—there’s been a lot of growth in the past nine months!

You and your midwife or doctor have likely been monitoring your weight gain throughout your pregnancy. Most of this weight comes from your own stores of fat, your baby’s body weight, and extra blood and fluid volume. You’ll lose most of the weight gained during pregnancy once your baby is born. Keep in mind that you’ll have a lot on your plate when your newborn is here, so take things slowly and try not to put too much pressure on yourself to “bounce back” into shape.

What Does 40 Weeks Pregnant Look Like?

Here’s a general idea of how your belly might look around 40 weeks pregnant:

Things to Consider at 40 Weeks Pregnant

Before your little cutie arrives, here are a few things you might want to consider at 40 weeks pregnant:

  • At 40 weeks pregnant it’s a good idea to review your pain relief options for labour if you’re planning to give birth vaginally. Medical options range from ‘Entonox’, a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide gas, to pain-relieving injections of pethidine into the thigh or buttocks, and epidural anaesthetics which are administered into your back. All these methods have benefits and risks, so talk to your midwife or doctor about which might work best for you. There are also many natural comfort measures and relaxation techniques that can help you through labour, such as the use of a birth pool, or hypnobirthing. Speak to your midwife or doctor about what comfort measures are available to you at the hospital or birthing centre. Whatever you decide, you can always change your mind during labour, so the most important thing now is to know what your options are.

  • Now might be a good time to chat with your birth partner or doula about your preferences for labour and childbirth, so that they can give you the support you need. This is also an opportunity to discuss any concerns or questions your birth partner might have.

  • Although by now, likely, you can hardly wait to greet your baby, try thinking of these final days as an opportunity for a little self-indulgence. If you’re 40 weeks pregnant and see no signs of labour, why not treat yourself to a pedicure, go out for a meal or film, or just catch up on some reading? You could also use this time to sleep in and take regular naps so that you’re well-rested for what’s to come. Once your baby is born, you'll be on call 24 hours a day, and it'll be a while before you can squeeze in a little ‘me time’.

  • It might help you feel more prepared to read up in advance on the kinds of things that may be in store for you after you have given birth. Here are just a few articles that you may find interesting on the postpartum period:






Tip for Partners

Let your pregnant partner know that you’re there to support them each step of the way. Ask them how they’re feeling and discuss what may be in store in the next week. If you’re going to be the birth partner, review what you’ve learned during the childbirth classes, such as breathing and relaxation exercises. Your pregnant partner will be grateful for your calming and reassuring help during labour.


Questions for Your Doctor at 40 Weeks Pregnant

Although your pregnancy journey is nearly over, your doctor and midwife are still there to support you and answer any of your questions. Here are a few things you might like to ask at 40 weeks pregnant:

  • What are some symptoms not to ignore at 40 weeks pregnant? If at around 40 weeks pregnant you experience vaginal bleeding, a severe and persistent headache, vision problems such as blurred vision, sensitivity to light or seeing spots, or sudden swelling of the face, hands, feet, and ankles, contact your doctor immediately.

  • At 40 weeks, does my doctor recommend waiting a little longer or inducing labour?

  • If I’m expecting to give birth vaginally, what are the benefits and risks of having an episiotomy?

  • Will my partner be able to cut the umbilical cord after my baby is born?

  • Is it safe to have sex so close to my due date?

  • What, if anything, can I do at home to jumpstart labour?

  • What should I do if I notice changes in how much my baby is moving?

  • What should I expect in terms of postpartum recovery? Are there any postpartum symptoms I should contact my doctor or midwife about?

  • How soon after giving birth can I start breastfeeding? (If this is something you would like to do.)


Absolutely, giving birth at 40 weeks is considered normal. In fact, a ‘normal’ pregnancy term is generally anywhere from 37 weeks to 42 weeks. So, delivering a baby at 40 weeks fits comfortably within this timeframe.

40 Weeks Pregnant: Your Checklist

Here’s our helpful checklist to help you get by at 40 weeks pregnant:

  • Check with your hospital or birthing centre to see if their facilities include bathtubs or showers that you can use during labour. Being in water can relax you and make it easier to manage pain in all the stages of labour. By counteracting gravity, the water makes it easier to move and change position, while the calming sensation can relax you by lowering your adrenaline levels and stimulating natural hormones that help you cope with labour pains.

  • Make a list of all the people you want to tell as soon as your little one is born so you don’t forget anyone. If you plan to make a social media announcement you may want to draft something now, then just fill in details like the time of birth and your baby’s weight later on.

  • If you haven’t got your hospital bag packed and ready to go at 40 weeks pregnant, now would be a really good time to start getting together the essential items you’ll be needing at the hospital or birthing centre. Use our handy hospital bag checklist to make sure there’s nothing you’ve missed.

  • If possible, organise some help around the house for the first few days and weeks after your baby is born. Friends, neighbours or nearby family members may be happy to lend a hand by preparing meals, shopping for essentials or simply looking after your older children and pets if you have them.

How We Wrote This Article The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

chatbot widgethand
Cookie Consent