Your Fetus at 40 Weeks

The 40 week old baby is ready for his entry into the world. He is settling into the position easiest for birth. His head will be up against the birth canal. His legs will be tucked up against his chest and his knees will be by his nose. Many mothers worry about the umbilical cord wrapping about the baby’s neck and cutting off air supply. While this does happen in a small percentage of births, nature is taking steps to avoid the situation. The cord is experiencing rapid blood flow to keep it taut so it can’t easily tangle. If you have any concerns regarding reduced movement, or anything else, contact your doctor immediately. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

At this stage, your baby will probably be rolling around inside the womb. He’s gotten big so his movement is restricted. You’ll probably feel him kicking less and squirming more. He’s resting lower in your body now so his punches and kicks will feel a bit different. You will probably notice that your breathing is easier but he’s putting increased pressure on your bladder, causing you to urinate more frequently.

You’re likely to have backaches and soreness in the pelvic region due to the extra weight you’re carrying. Many women experience Braxton Hicks contractions or false labor. It’s just your body getting ready for the main event. Use them, if you can, to practice your breathing techniques. You and your baby are getting ready to meet face to face and feelings of restlessness and impatience are common. It’s normal to give birth a little early or a little late. If you go past the safety point, your doctor will probably recommend inducing labor. Be assured the hospital personnel will keep a close and watchful eye on you and your baby.

The average full term baby is about seven and half pounds and nineteen to twenty two inches long. These are averages and many smaller or larger children are born perfectly healthy. Babies are usually born with a combination of blood, vernix, lanugo and amniotic fluid.

When you first see him, he may have a cone head appearance. It’s due to his trip down the birth canal. The bones on top of his skull haven’t yet fused together so his journey into your arms is a little easier on both of you.

As he takes his first breaths, the umbilical cord will stop working. His first efforts to breathe will signal changes in his heart structure. Bypass arteries will now begin to force blood into his lungs. Your placenta will detach and come out the birth canal shortly after you give birth.

Upon reaching his destination, your baby will probably see the world with blurred vision. He will likely be curled up (fetal position) because he’s so used to being in cramped quarters. It will take him awhile to adjust to having so much space. It’s comforting for him and is the main reason he’ll probably like being wrapped tightly (swaddled) in a soft blanket.

When you say hello, he’ll likely recognize your voice and probably that of your partner. He’s been listening to you from inside the womb. Now you get to see who you’ve been nurturing and loving for the past nine months.