Pregnancy Calendar Week 40 – You Are Proud Parents This Week

Pregnancy Calendar Week 40 – You Are Proud Parents This Week

If you missed the opportunity last week, hopefully this will be the week when you will add up a new family member. With the baby taking more time, the excitement and nervousness will be mounting on your head. Know more about the eventuality of the labour and delivery this week.

Week 40

Though you have officially and successfully completed the pregnancy phase, you are still on the brink of culminating it. Whether it happens today or coming days, rest assure that the road ahead will be a short one and all the discomforts will come to rest.

Your body this week

Pregnant belly – What’s happening inside?

Your body has accommodated itself brilliantly so far. If you have not delivered last week, this is the week where you will be 100 percent full term. According to author Allison Hill, mere 19 percent pregnant women go into labour this week with 14 percent delivering next week. But this could be the week of the ‘big day’, so as a reminder you must know everything related to labor and delivery.

Contractions

Though, you have been experiencing the ‘false contractions’ till date, the early phase of the labor can be a mix of both Braxton Hicks and real labor contractions. It can be both infrequent and not-so painful contractions that would last about 30-40 seconds. But whichever is the case, with each contraction the cervical effacement (thinning) and dilation (widening) will continue.

Labor contractions usually begin at the back and radiates to the front and they get stronger. This can be termed as early stage labor and it can last maximum 2 days.

Active Labor

If those contractions were not Braxton Hicks, then you have entered the active stage of labor. In this phase, the dilation of the cervix will be approximately 1cm/hour. And this will come as a result of contractions becoming more frequent so much so that you will experience them every 2-3 minutes and lasting up to 90 seconds with increased intensity.

This will be the phase during which you will want to move to the hospital. So, the best bet is to keep the doctor updated and keep the travel time in mind well in advance so that you can avoid last minute run due to weather or traffic.

This active stage is topped with what is called as transition. And this is the shortest part of the labor which would last 30-90 minutes, however it would be the toughest phase. Reason? The intensity of contractions will now take place every 1-2 minutes. This is actually the uterus’ way of transitioning you to the second stage of labor in which dilation of the cervix will be 10cm/hour.

In this phase the contractions will slow down with a strong urge to push. The second phase can last from few minutes to hour depending on pregnancy to pregnancy. But don’t be anxious, just wait for the green signal of the doctor.

Push and deliver

In this phase, the head of the baby with each contraction start appearing from the vagina. Once the head of the baby becomes visible without any chances of slipping back, you will hear the good news within an hour.

Placenta delivery

The job is not over yet, you have to go through the last stage. After the baby comes out, you will now be delivering the placenta. Nursing the baby can be helpful in this process as this practice can put pressure on the uterus to contract and expel the placenta.

Symptoms at 40th week

If labor does not occur this week, then you will continue to experience the previous symptoms including:

  • Insomnia
  • Leg cramps
  • Contractions
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Heartburn

Keep checking the signs of labor including the most obvious i.e. water-breaking. You will experience slow trickling of watery discharge which is actually the amniotic fluid.

Complications at 40th week of pregnancy

There are many complications that still haunt a woman at this stage. Depending on the individual and her history of pregnancy, fetal distress can occur during the labor. In fetal distress, the baby does not get adequate oxygen supply during the labor. This can be due to fetal anomalies, problems with umbilical cord or the stress of labor.

Fetal distress can also occur because of abnormal positioning of the fetus and placental problems. If the doctor suspects that the baby can experience distress during the labor, the baby’s heart rate will be continuously monitored using various techniques to ensure safe delivery.

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Your baby this week

If the baby was not delivered last week, be rest assure that he or she has successfully crossed all the major developmental phase and just waiting for the right time to exit out of the womb. The baby at week 40 just continues to grow hair and nails and stock up antibodies. However, if the delivery happens this week, the newborn will be experiencing below things:

Soft and flexible skull – This let the baby smoothly exit the birth canal but, this flexibility can make her head cone-shaped during the vaginal delivery. However, after a few days the skull will become normal round-shaped but the soft spots (fontanelles) on the head will take 3-15 months to revert to normal.

Vernix and lanugo – The cheesylike substance (vernix) that covers the baby’s skin and soft silky hair (lanugo) on the body can be spotted.

Eyes and limbs – At the time of birth, the eyes might be swollen while the hands and feet might be tinged blue or small redness (nevus simplex) can be seen on the forehead. So don’t worry, all these changes are completely normal.

Amniotic fluid and mucus suction – The doctor after delivering the child will be suctioning amniotic fluid and mucus out of your baby’s mouth. He will then try mother-to-baby skin contact by placing him or her on the stomach or chest. This will be your first hug to your baby.

Umbilical cord cutting followed by screening – The doctor will then cut the lifeline of the womb i.e. the umbilical cord followed by various tests to make sure everything is up and working in the newborn. These will include weight and length, apgar score, vitamin K injection, hearing test, blood test (PKU) and hepatitis B vaccination.

Size, weight and appearance

A 40 weeks baby in gestation will be around 20-inches long and weight varying between 3-4 kgs or the size of a pumpkin. The normal weight of a newborn can be anywhere between 2.5-4 kgs.

Expecting dads

Though your wife is undergoing the troubles of labor and delivery, your job at this moment becomes more critical. Right from noting the contractions timing and helping her reach the hospital, your encouragement and support should not decline.

  • Time the contractions using stopwatch on your smartphone and take her to hospital when you see contractions last 45-60 seconds with 3-5 minutes gap.
  • Hold her hands till she reaches the hospital, it will definitely give her comfort
  • After the baby is home, let her focus more on her recovery and help her in nursing, bringing water and changing diapers or ask what supplies she want

Screening

If you are still pregnant, then you will be visiting the doctor this week as well. Remember, till 42 weeks you are not considered post-term. The science behind due dates is not precise and certain things such as irregular periods and medical history can affect delivery calculations.

But if you are still pregnant, the doctor will be doing her job of triggering labor and delivering your child as safely as possible. For this, the doctor would be stripping off your membranes to start the labor. You would also be suggested to take a walk or stay active in order to push your baby into the pelvis.

However, for women who do not go into the labor within a week, she would likely undergo non-stress test and biophysical profile (BPP). These procedures will determine baby’s movement, heart rate and the overall well-being. After reviewing the results, the doctor may induce labor through different methods.

Next week events

If you have delivered your child this week, you would be staying in the hospital for a few days to a week, depending on the type of delivery. However, if you are still expecting, next week depending on your case, the doctor will conduct following procedures to start your labor:

  • Sweeping the membranes using gloved finger to help produce prostaglandins. This procedure can create menstrual cramps-like discomfort
  • Use synthetic medication named pitocin
  • Rupture the amniotic sac using thin plastic hook

Tips of the week

Expecting women need to focus more on starting the labor. Following tips can help them:

  1. Stimulate nipples which causes contractions and releases oxytocin hormone
  2. Walking which let the baby move further into the birth canal
  3. Sex with the advice of your doctor, it can help induce labor

FAQs at 40th week of pregnancy

How can I ease pain and soreness post-delivery?

No doubt you have been through disturbing event. To ease pain, you can use anesthetic spray to numb the region. Besides, you can soak the bottom area by taking warm sitz bath for soothing the soreness. You can also ask your doctor for ibuprofen.

I have lost 2-3 pounds instead of gaining, is it a cause of concern?

No its not. Weight gain in the last month slows down. So, as long as your doctor says that you are measuring fine, don’t worry.

Sources

1. American Pregnancy Association. Pregnancy Week 40. read more
2. The Nemours Foundation. Kidshealth.org. Pregnancy Calendar, Week 40 read more
3. National Women's Health Resource Center. Healthywomen.org. Pregnancy & Parenting Second Trimester of Pregnancy: 40 Weeks 
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