What to Expect when You’re 40 Weeks Pregnant
Congratulations! 40 weeks is the official length of a pregnancy and that date on your calendar is here. Don’t be too disappointed if your baby isn’t right on time, though – around 30% of pregnancies go longer than 40 weeks. Hang in there and trust that your baby will come when he or she is ready (although most practitioners will look seriously at inducing after 41 weeks). Read on to find out more about what to expect when you’re 40 weeks pregnant.
Symptoms at 40 Weeks Pregnant
Your body probably feels like it’s all over the place right now. The fact is, it’s working really hard to prepare you for labor, delivery, and motherhood. The major symptoms you can expect are:
Edema: Swollen feet and ankles from fluid build up.
Bloody show: A sign of the cervix dilating.
Diarrhea: Your body making more room for Baby and “clearing out” in preparation for labor.
Incontinence: Caused by pressure on the bladder and decreased sensitivity (you don’t KNOW when you need to GO!)
Leaky nipples: Your breasts are preparing for nursing and are already making colostrum.
Braxton Hicks Contractions: Your uterus “practicing” for labor.
Signs of Labor
A lot of these symptoms have the potential to trick you into thinking that you’re going into labor when you may actually carry for another two or three weeks. However, there are a few sure symptoms of pregnancy coming to an end and labor beginning. Look out for:
The Mucous Plug: Throughout your pregnancy, you’ve had this little “plug” in your cervix. Leading up to the start of labor, you may pass this thick glob of mucous, which can be a sign that your cervix is becoming more dilated and labor will begin in the next couple of days.
Waters Breaking: The sac of amniotic fluid that has nurtured your baby throughout your pregnancy may rupture and a flood of water will come from your vagina. Depending on how dilated you are, this may be closely followed by contractions or you may still have a day or two to wait. Contact your professionals as soon as this happens. Be aware that not all women’s waters break without assistance.
Actual Contractions: You’ll be able to tell the difference between real contractions and Braxton Hicks because they come at regular intervals and you can not ease or stop them by changing positions or walking around. If you think you’re having real contractions, get out a timer and measure the intervals between them.
If in Doubt, ask for Help
If you’re ever in any doubt about whether what you’re experiencing is a normal symptom of late pregnancy or the beginnings of labor, it doesn’t hurt to check with your professionals.
To Do List
Make sure you’ve packed your hospital bag! You might need it any minute. Use our handy hospital checklist if you’re not sure what to put in.
Get some sleep! It may be a very elusive commodity in a few days time! You’ll be better prepared for labor (and for the late night nursing that follows!) if you’re well rested.
Don’t let yourself get anxious or depressed – this final week or so can be an isolating time and it’s hard to see that others understand how you feel, but they do – women have been doing this since time began. Call your Mom (or your BFF – whatever works!).
Keep watching out for those signs of labor and stay in close contact with your maternity practitioners.
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