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01st Jan 2016

Your baby at 40 weeks pregnant: Week-by-week guide to development

pumpkin pregnancy image

Welcome to week 40 of your pregnancy! This week, your baby is as big as a pumpkin. YOU DID IT, you’ve made a full baby.


Week 40, and here you are at the finish line – a full-term pregnancy! It’s okay if you’re feeling a mix of excitement and impatience. Many mums-to-be reach this stage and find themselves wondering when labour will begin. On average, first-time mamas in Ireland tend to give birth at around 40 weeks and three days. It’s also typical to experience increased backache and more frequent visits to the bathroom as your baby’s head puts pressure on your bladder. Keep yourself occupied with gentle activities and, if the weather is nice, some leisurely walks can help. And don’t forget to savour these last moments of your pregnancy because soon, you’ll be with your baba.

Your baby

Your baby is now fully developed and ready for life outside the womb. They are around 50 centimetres long and weigh approximately 3.4 kilograms, which is a similar weight to a watermelon. While you might be feeling the anticipation, your little one may need a bit more time to decide when to make their entrance. At 40 weeks, nearly all babies are positioned head down in the uterus, which is the optimal position for birth. You can read about other positions HERE. Their skull bones are still relatively soft and haven’t fused together yet, making it easier for their head to mould and pass through the birth canal.

Anything else?

It’s a waiting game at this stage. Remember, only about 5% of babies are born on their due date, so patience is required (although admittedly, probably not plentiful). If you notice your waters breaking, or if you experience any bleeding or reduced baby movements, contact your maternity hospital or midwife immediately. To help naturally induce labour, you can try gentle walks and eating spicy food – although there’s no guarantee it’ll work! Keep communicating with your healthcare provider about any concerns, and be sure your hospital bag is packed and ready. It’s baby time!