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40th Week Of Pregnancy

The 40th Week of Pregnancy: A Comprehensive Guide


The 40th week of pregnancy marks the culmination of a transformative journey that has spanned nine months. As you approach the end of this extraordinary period, it is natural to experience a mix of anticipation, excitement, and perhaps even a touch of trepidation. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to the 40th week of pregnancy, empowering you with the knowledge and understanding you need to navigate this final stage with confidence and preparation.

Physical Changes

  • Increased Braxton Hicks Contractions: As your body prepares for labor, you may experience more frequent and intense Braxton Hicks contractions. These practice contractions can be uncomfortable but are generally not a cause for concern unless they become regular and painful.
  • Pelvic Pressure: The baby’s head is now engaged in the pelvis, which can put pressure on your bladder and rectum. This may lead to increased urination and difficulty with bowel movements.
  • Lightening: The baby has dropped lower into the pelvis, which can relieve some of the pressure on your lungs and diaphragm, making it easier to breathe.
  • Cervical Changes: The cervix is gradually softening and dilating in preparation for labor. You may notice a slight amount of bloody discharge known as "bloody show" as the cervix sheds its mucus plug.
  • Weight Gain: Your weight gain may slow down or even plateau during the last few weeks of pregnancy.

Emotional Changes

  • Mood Swings: Hormonal fluctuations and the anticipation of labor can lead to mood swings and emotional sensitivity.
  • Anxiety: It is common to feel anxious or apprehensive as you approach the end of pregnancy. Talk to your healthcare provider or a trusted friend or family member about your concerns.
  • Excitement: The excitement of meeting your baby can outweigh any feelings of anxiety. Allow yourself to embrace the joy and anticipation of this special moment.

Medical Appointments

  • Weekly Checkups: Your healthcare provider will continue to monitor your progress and the baby’s well-being with weekly checkups. These appointments typically include blood pressure and weight measurements, a physical exam, and a fetal heart rate check.
  • NST or BPP: Your healthcare provider may recommend a non-stress test (NST) or a biophysical profile (BPP) to assess the baby’s well-being and monitor for any potential complications.

Preparing for Labor

  • Create a Birth Plan: Consider your preferences for pain management, delivery position, and other aspects of labor. Discuss your birth plan with your healthcare provider to ensure they are aware of your wishes.
  • Pack a Hospital Bag: Pack a bag with essential items you will need during labor and your hospital stay, such as toiletries, comfortable clothing, snacks, and a birth ball.
  • Arrange Childcare: If you have other children, make arrangements for their care during labor and your hospital stay.
  • Get Plenty of Rest: Rest as much as possible in the last few weeks of pregnancy. Labor can be physically and emotionally demanding, so it is important to conserve your energy.

Signs of Labor

  • Regular Contractions: Contractions that occur at regular intervals and gradually increase in intensity and duration.
  • Water Breaking: The amniotic sac ruptures and releases a clear or slightly yellow fluid.
  • Bloody Show: A small amount of bloody discharge that indicates the cervix is dilating.
  • Backache: A persistent backache that does not go away with rest or changes in position.
  • Pelvic Pressure: A feeling of pressure or heaviness in the pelvis.

When to Call Your Healthcare Provider

Call your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM): Water breaking before 37 weeks of gestation.
  • Heavy Vaginal Bleeding: Bleeding that is heavier than a menstrual period.
  • Severe Abdominal Pain: Pain that is sudden, severe, or persistent.
  • Decreased Fetal Movement: A noticeable decrease in the baby’s movements.
  • Fever: A fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher.


The 40th week of pregnancy is a time of both anticipation and preparation. By understanding the physical and emotional changes you may experience, attending regular medical appointments, and preparing for labor, you can approach this final stage with confidence and excitement. Remember that every pregnancy is unique, and it is important to listen to your body and communicate any concerns with your healthcare provider. As you eagerly await the arrival of your precious little one, embrace the journey and enjoy the special moments that lie ahead.

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