40 Weeks Pregnant

Your baby is the size of a


Welcome to 40 weeks pregnant! This could be the final week of your pregnancy, and the thrilling moment of meeting your little one may be just days or hours away. During this time, your body and baby are preparing for the miraculous experience of birth. In this article, we’ll review the signs of labor, discuss what happens during labor and delivery, and suggest some key points to keep in mind when you're 40 weeks pregnant.

Highlights at 40 Weeks Pregnant

You’ve made it to 40 weeks pregnant! So, what should you know about or do during this special period?

  • At 40 weeks, your baby is about the size of a small pumpkin—and they’re getting ready to meet you!

  • They may be moving into a head-down position in preparation for delivery.

  • You may see a pinkish/bloody vaginal discharge at 40 weeks pregnant—likely the mucus plug. It’s one sign that labor may be near.

  • Whether you're expecting a vaginal birth or cesarean delivery, read up and become informed about both options.

  • Still haven't decided on a name? Let our Baby Name Generator help:


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40 Weeks Pregnant: Your Baby's Development

At 40 weeks pregnant, your little one could arrive any day, but they might also prefer a little more time in the coziness of your belly. If you don’t go into labor within a week of your expected due date, your healthcare provider will keep an extra close eye on your baby’s heart rate and movement to be sure that all is well.

  • Your baby’s head has likely dropped lower into your pelvis, and their body is curled up tightly. They don’t have much choice—it's pretty crowded in there.

  • If your baby is in a breech position (bottom down or bottom and feet down), your provider may attempt to turn them by placing firm pressure on your abdomen. If that doesn't work, your provider may discuss the possibility of cesarean delivery with you.

  • You've been getting ready to meet your baby, and they’ve been getting ready to meet you too! Their little body has been gaining fat up until this point, so they can more easily adjust to life outside the womb, and their liver, lungs, and brain are also still developing.


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How Many Months Is 40 Weeks Pregnant?

Now that you’ve reached the amazing milestone of 40 weeks pregnant, you may be wondering what that is in months. Although there are various ways to group the weeks into months, we generally consider 40 weeks to be nine months pregnant—and you’re now full-term!

Baby's Size at 40 Weeks Pregnant

At 40 weeks pregnant, the average baby is about the size of a small pumpkin. Babies generally weigh between five and a half and nine and a half pounds at birth (if they’re full-term). Keep in mind that this is just an average—pretty soon, you’ll know your baby’s exact birth weight and length.

Your Baby: What Does 40 Weeks Pregnant Look Like?

Although not every baby is head-down this week, here’s an illustration of how your baby may be positioned at 40 weeks:

Your Body at 40 Weeks Pregnant

Your body has done an amazing job of housing and nourishing your baby throughout your pregnancy. Read on to discover what happens during labor and delivery for both a vaginal delivery and a cesarean section.

Vaginal birth

If you’re having a vaginal birth, when the time comes, you’ll go through three labor stages before you meet your baby.

First Stage

During the first stage, which includes two phases called “early labor” and “active labor,” you will experience cervical effacement, which means your cervix will start to open by stretching and thinning. At this stage, you’ll feel contractions starting in your back area and moving toward your belly. These contractions move your baby lower down into the birth canal.

Although each person’s labor experience is different, some can be in the early labor phase for as many as 14 to 20 hours before progressing to active labor, which is when the cervix dilates about six centimeters. Active labor may last between four and eight hours.

It’s not uncommon to spend most of your early labor at home; your healthcare provider will be able to give you personalized advice as to when you should head to the hospital. If you start to notice the early signs of labor any time around 40 weeks pregnant, try to make the time as relaxing as possible.

You might want to go for a walk or take a warm bath at home, or you could listen to your favorite music or start practicing any breathing techniques you’ve learned in your childbirth education classes.

Second Stage

Once your cervix is fully dilated (10 centimeters), you’ve made it to the second stage of labor. This is when you’ll be encouraged to push to help move your baby through the birth canal and out into the world.

This part is usually a bit quicker (lasting about half an hour to three hours, on average) but can be more physically demanding and painful than the earlier stage of labor.

Third Stage

Finally, after you deliver your baby, you’ll reach the third and final stage of labor. This is when you’ll deliver the placenta. You’ll probably still feel contractions as the placenta detaches from the uterus and comes out, but this stage is usually quicker and less uncomfortable than delivering your baby.

If you haven’t done this already, you might like to read up on the medical interventions your healthcare provider may recommend or the ones you prefer. These include having an epidural or getting an episiotomy.

Discuss your preferences with your provider in advance or add them to your birth plan. If you’re unsure exactly what your preferences are, ask your provider why such medical interventions may be recommended and what the risks and benefits are of each.

Cesarean Birth

Not all pregnancies deliver vaginally. You may have a scheduled cesarean section, or your healthcare provider may decide that a c-section is the best action once you’re in labor.

For cesarean delivery, you’ll first be given anesthesia to numb you or put you to sleep before surgery. Then, after being prepped for surgery, your doctor will make an incision in your abdomen and uterus and remove the baby and placenta manually.

If your c-section is planned, your partner will likely be allowed in the operating room with you during surgery.

40 Weeks Pregnant: Your Symptoms

At 40 weeks pregnant, here are some of the symptoms you may be experiencing:

  • Snoring. Many pregnant people experience some changes in their breathing during pregnancy, and you might be snoring more than usual as you approach your due date. This could be because hormonal changes can cause your nasal passages to dry out. If snoring is a problem for you or your partner, try using a humidifier in your bedroom or sleeping with nasal strips across your nose.

  • Losing the mucus plug. During pregnancy, this plug seals off your cervix to prevent bacteria from entering your uterus. You'll lose this plug when you go into labor—or even a few days or weeks before. You might not even notice it, but it may look like a pinkish, bloody, or clear discharge if you do. If you experience heavy vaginal bleeding (that’s heavier than spotting) at any time around 40 weeks pregnant, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

  • Contractions. You may have felt Braxton Hicks contractions earlier in your pregnancy, but you’ll know it’s the real deal when your contractions hit at regular intervals and become more and more frequent. If you’re experiencing cramps or period-like pains but no contractions at any time around 40 weeks pregnant, take note of whether those pains get closer together or more intense over time—if so, what you may be feeling is contractions!

    • If you think you’re experiencing true labor contractions at 40 weeks, or you’re unsure (perhaps they’re painful but irregular, for example), contact your healthcare provider for advice. You can also download and print our contraction tracking chart to help easily track your contractions.

  • Water breaking. This happens when the amniotic sac surrounding your baby ruptures, releasing the amniotic fluid. It can be one of the signs of labor at 40 weeks pregnant. Your water can break several hours before labor starts or even once labor has begun. When it happens, you might find it’s not as dramatic as the movies would have us believe. Some experience a gush of fluid, and others only notice a trickle.

How Big Is a Pregnant Belly at 40 Weeks?

Your uterus has probably finished expanding now—there’s been a lot of growth in the past nine months! Before your pregnancy, your uterus started out at around two ounces, and at 40 weeks, it may now weigh about two and a half pounds.

You and your healthcare provider have likely been monitoring your weight gain over the course of your pregnancy. Most of this weight comes from your own stores of fat, your baby’s body weight, and extra blood and fluid volume. You’ll lose most of the weight gained during pregnancy once your baby is born. Then, once you're fully recovered from childbirth, you can read up on postpartum weight loss. Keep in mind that you’ll have a lot on your plate when your newborn is here, so take things slowly and try not to put too much pressure on yourself to “bounce back” into shape.

What Does 40 Weeks Pregnant Look Like?

Here’s a general idea of how your belly might look around 40 weeks pregnant:

40 weeks pregnant belly

40 Weeks Pregnant: Things to Consider

Before your little one arrives, here are a few things you might want to consider:

  • Don’t be surprised if your baby doesn’t arrive exactly on their due date. Remember that your due date is just an estimate and that your pregnancy won’t be considered post-term until you hit 42 weeks. If you give birth a bit later than expected, it could be because your baby just wants a little extra time in your comfy belly. You can read up on what full-term, late-term, and post-term pregnancy means.

  • During the final weeks of your pregnancy, you’ll probably visit your healthcare provider about once a week. At these visits, the provider will check your cervix and the baby’s health and movements. If you haven’t gone into labor by 41 or 42 weeks, your healthcare provider might make a plan for inducing labor.

    • After 40 weeks of pregnancy, the amount of amniotic fluid in your uterus may start to decrease, and the placenta might not be as effective at nourishing and protecting your baby as it once was. Try not to worry, as your healthcare provider is closely monitoring you and your baby and will know the best course of action. If you go into labor but it doesn’t progress normally, your healthcare provider may recommend inducing labor or suggest another method to help it progress.

  • Though you're eager to greet your baby, try and consider these final days as an opportunity for a little self-indulgence. If you’re 40 weeks pregnant and see no signs of labor, why not treat yourself to a pedicure, take in a movie, or read a book from cover to cover? You could also use this time to sleep in and take regular naps so that you’re well-rested for your new arrival and all the fun that’s to come.

  • When the time comes, let your birth partner support you during labor. Your partner can help keep you company, time your contractions, and take your mind off any pain or discomfort by offering a soothing massage.

  • It might help you feel more prepared to read about the things that may be in store for you after you give birth. Here are just a few articles that you may find interesting on the postpartum period:

40 Weeks Pregnant: Questions for Your Healthcare Provider

These are a handful of questions you may have for your healthcare provider:

  • What are some symptoms not to ignore at 40 weeks pregnant? (Tip: Contact your healthcare provider if you’re 40 weeks pregnant and have a severe headache, fever, persistent nausea, heavy vaginal bleeding, or chest pain.)

  • At this stage, do you recommend waiting or inducing labor?

  • Is my baby being very active at 40 weeks pregnant a sign of labor?

  • What, if anything, can I do at home to jumpstart labor? Can castor oil help induce labor?

  • Is it safe to have sex so close to my due date?

  • Is it ok if I’m not dilated at 40 weeks?

  • What should I do if I notice changes in how much my baby is moving?

  • What should I expect in terms of postpartum recovery? Are there any postpartum symptoms I should contact my healthcare provider about? How soon after giving birth can I start breastfeeding?

40 Weeks Pregnant: Your Checklist

Use our handy checklist at 40 weeks pregnant:

  • Check with your hospital or birth center to see if their facilities include bathtubs or showers that you can use during labor. Some pregnant people find that this hydrotherapy can help lessen pain and discomfort.

  • Read up on how to time contractions.

  • Make a list of all the people you want to tell as soon as your little one’s born so you don’t forget anyone. If you plan to make a social media announcement, you may want to draft something now, then just fill in details like the time of birth and your baby’s weight later on.

  • If you haven’t packed your hospital bag at 40 weeks pregnant, now would be a really good time to start getting together the essential items you’ll need at the hospital or birthing center. Use our handy hospital bag checklist to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

  • Download the Pampers Club app to earn discounts and rewards on all the diapers and wipes you’ll be buying in the coming years.

  • If possible, organize some help around the house for the first few days and weeks after your baby is born. Friends, neighbors, or nearby family members may be happy to pitch in with meal preparation, grocery shopping, or caring for your older children.

  • Have a few spare minutes of downtime before the big day arrives? You might want to take a look at how to navigate the first few weeks with your newborn.

  • It’s not too late to shop for any baby items you still need. For example, check out our list of the best diaper bags and the best swaddle blankets as selected by thousands of Pampers Parents.

How We Wrote This Article The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.