Congratulations, you made it to week 40! Your baby is truly full-term, and you must feel really ready to meet your child. It may seem like one of the longest weeks of your life as you wait for the signs that it’s time, so make the most of it if you can: go for walks, to the movies, or out to dinner. All of these activities should be self-nurturing, and some of them may even help the labor process begin. In order to limit the number of phone calls or emails you have to manage, you should feel free to leave a message on your voicemail/email that says something like, "Hey, it’s me. We’re doing great, but no news yet. We promise we’ll let you know as soon as the baby’s here."
Your health care provider will often start doing some testing to make sure that your baby is still doing well. The most common test done is the Non Stress Test (NST). The NST involves the placement of a small device on your abdomen, above the baby's heart, that can hear the heart rate. The heart rate will be traced on a strip of paper for approximately 20-30 minutes. Predictable patterns in the heart rate will let your provider know if your baby is getting enough oxygen. If you have a "reactive" NST, the baby is doing well and there is only a small chance of complications over the following week. If the heart rate pattern is "non-reactive," your health care provider will take the appropriate actions.
Another common test to ensure that your baby is doing well is an ultrasound. The ultrasound will allow your provider to ensure good growth of your baby and to look at the amniotic fluid around the baby. Often as the placenta gets older, the baby may not get enough nutrients to continue to grow well or the amniotic fluid around the baby goes down. If these things are noted, your health care provider will take the appropriate actions. The ultrasound will also allow your provider to look at the presence of baby muscle tone, movement, and breathing. This testing is called a Biophysical Profile (BPP). The presence of these activities are reassuring that the baby is doing well.
If your testing is not reassuring, your health care provider might suggest that your baby gets delivered soon. An induction of labor is often done if you don't go into labor on your own. If the baby is struggling, your birth team may advise a cesarean section. Some providers will often recommend an induction at 41 weeks, even if your NST and ultrasounds are good. Studies have shown that after 41 weeks, the placenta can start to deteriorate quickly. Very few providers will allow you to go beyond 42 weeks, as the chance of problems with your baby becomes exceedingly high at that point.
Your Body at 40 Weeks Pregnant
First pregnancies can often be a little late. The hardest part right now is waiting. Hang in there, and do whatever makes you feel most comfortable.
Your Baby at 40 Weeks Pregnant
Your baby is now about the size of a pumpkin at 20 inches (51cm) in size, and weighs a little over seven and a half pounds. She continues to move down the pelvis. Fingernails extend beyond the fingertips. In males, the testicles have fully descended into the scrotum.