40 weeks 


Highlights this week

You made it!

Congratulations – you made it to your due date! Your pregnancy is full term and your baby is fully developed and ready to meet you.

How to get labor going

Natural ways to induce labor aren't proven to work – and some can be dangerous. But there are two methods that are worth a try: walking and having sex (if sex is still safe and comfortable for you). There's no solid proof that these will start your labor, but they could help, and you may enjoy them!

Staying positive

If you're anxious about going through labor or having a C-section, or frustrated with being hugely pregnant, practice a few helpful pregnancy affirmations. "I trust my body to know what to do" and "I am capable of amazing things" are good ones to start with.

Baby development at 40 weeks

How big will your baby be?

It's hard to say for sure, but the average baby weight for newborns in the United States is between 7 and 8 pounds. The average length is about 20 inches.

Your baby's skin color

Babies of all ethnicities are born with reddish-purple skin that changes to pinkish-red in a day or so. The pink tint comes from the red blood vessels that are visible through your baby's skin. Because your baby's blood circulation is still maturing, their hands and feet may be bluish for a few days. Babies of darker-skinned parents typically have lighter skin that gains pigment over time. Around 6 months old, your baby's skin will reach its permanent color.

Soft spots

Your baby's skull isn't one large bone, like an adult's. It starts out as separate bones joined by flexible tissue. After your baby is born, you'll be able to feel the soft spots between the bones, called fontanels, on the top and back of your newborn's head.

baby with head with soft spots called fontanels
Your baby at 40 weeks
Tap the plus for more details
Advertisement | page continues below

Your baby is about the size of a small pumpkin

small pumpkin illustration
head to toe
medical chart icon

Pregnancy symptoms during week 40

Ripening cervix

Your healthcare provider may check your cervix to see if it's "ripening." Its condition – how soft, thinned out, and dilated (open) it is – can be a sign that labor's near. Still, it's not a sure-fire predictor of labor, so don't get too disappointed if you don't have the progress you're hoping for. On the other hand, labor can still be many days away even if you've begun to dilate and efface.

Water breaking

In the movies, labor usually starts with a big, dramatic gush of water hitting the floor. But the truth is, you don't have to worry about your water breaking in a sudden and cinematic fashion. Less than 15 percent of women have their water break before other symptoms of labor start. For the vast majority, their water breaks once contractions are already in progress. In short, don't stress about your water bursting while you're wrapping things up at work or making one last dash to the grocery store.

If you're in the minority and your water does break before labor, this is known as premature rupture of membranes, or PROM. Usually, labor will begin within 24 hours of your water breaking. If it doesn't happen naturally, your provider may induce labor.

Your water breaking isn't always obvious – in fact, you could have a slow leak of amniotic fluid. It may even be hard to tell whether what you're seeing is amniotic fluid, discharge, or pee. This is where your senses can come in handy: pee is typically yellow-hued, while vaginal discharge is often creamy or white. Amniotic fluid should be clear and have a slightly sweet smell.

If you've gotten close and personal and still aren't sure whether your water broke, put on a pad and wait half an hour. If the pad is wet after that time, it's likely the liquid is amniotic fluid.

If your water breaks, or even if you think it might have, call your doctor or midwife.

Back pain

Now that you're full-term, your baby likely weighs 7 to 8 pounds and is the size of a small pumpkin. That weight, plus the additional pounds from your placenta, fluid, and breasts will continue to put more and more strain on your back. It's no wonder that more than 60 percent of pregnant women experience back pain.

Find relief any way you can. Swimming or floating; getting a massage; and doing some easy, gentle stretching and walking can ease your discomfort.

If you experience any sudden changes to your back pain (for example, it gets much worse, or starts up for the first time), this may be a sign that labor has started. Intense back pain during labor (called back labor) usually means that your baby's head is pressing against your lower back, though one theory suggests that the pain may be "referred" from your uterus to your lower back.


At 40 weeks, you're probably very familiar with Braxton Hicks contractions. But how can you tell so-called "false labor" from the real thing?

There are some easy ways to tell the difference between Braxton Hicks and real labor contractions. For starters, Braxton Hicks are usually not painful, and they don't get closer together. If you drink water and rest, they'll probably stop, at least for now. You'll feel Braxton Hicks on the front of your belly most often, whereas real contractions often start in the back and radiate around to the front.

Unlike Braxton Hicks, real contractions are painful. They'll arrive at regular intervals, getting closer together and more intense over time. And real contractions will persist, even if you lie down, take a bath, or find another way to relax.

Once you've started having real contractions, follow your provider's advice about when to go to the hospital for labor. Usually, it's time to go when you've had contractions at regular intervals (such as every four or five minutes) that last about a minute each, for an hour or more.


Having trouble sleeping? Insomnia is incredibly common now – it affects about two-thirds of women by late pregnancy.

Coping with insomnia can be hard, especially when you know that you'll have more sleepless nights once your baby is here. Having a consistent bedtime routine may help. Using tons of pillows to get in a comfortable sleep position, snoozing in a lounge chair, and taking naps during the day are all perfectly acceptable if they help you get enough sleep.

Pelvic pain and pressure

As your baby continues to drop lower in preparation for their grand entrance, you're likely noticing more pelvic pain and pressure. This can feel like tightness or pain in your hips, groin, and pelvic floor.

Resting, icing, and sitting in more comfortable positions (if you can find them) might help. If the pain is severe, talk to your provider about other options for pain relief.

By now, your baby has probably dropped. That means their head is engaged in your pelvis. This is known as "lightening," since some women feel lighter once their baby has descended. Others, however, experience even more pelvic pain once their baby has dropped.

Thanks to lightening, you may find yourself waddling even more than before. And you'll probably take more frequent trips to the bathroom to go pee. The silver lining? Since your lungs have more room to expand, you can take a nice, deep breath.

Don't see your symptom?

Wondering about a symptom you have? Find it on our pregnancy symptoms page.

week 40, still pregnant, send help
baby in womb at 40 weeks
Your body at 40 weeks
Tap the plus for more details
checklist icon

Pregnancy checklist at 40 weeks

Do some exercises to prepare for labor

There's nothing you can do to make labor go faster, but simple exercises might help your body get ready for the effort ahead. Doing these exercises to help with labor may help you feel better now and once you're ready to deliver your baby.

Finalize your baby names list

Waiting until you meet your baby to make a final decision on names? That's fine! But make sure you have some good baby name options ready to go.

Advertisement | page continues below

Learn what will happen after birth

Take time to learn about what happens to your baby after delivery, and what to expect at the hospital or birth center. While you're at it, review your birth plan – you'll be needing it very soon.

Kick back and relax

Watch your favorite shows, read a novel, call an old friend, sleep in, or take naps when you can. It won't be long until your baby is here.

bumpie icon

40 weeks pregnant bellies

After months of anticipation, your due date rolls around, and ... you're still pregnant. It's a frustrating but common situation. You may not be as late as you think, especially if you're relying solely on a due date calculated from the day of your last period. (That's because sometimes women ovulate later than expected.) But even with reliable calculations, some women go past their due date. It's especially likely if you're a first-time mom.

If you don't go into labor soon, your provider may order tests to check on your baby or induce labor. Some providers will recommend induction once you reach 41 weeks. Though the risk of some complications increases with overdue pregnancies, most "late" babies and their moms do just fine.

40 weeks pregnant bellies

This week's video


Advertisement | page continues below

BabyCenter's editorial team is committed to providing the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information in the world. When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you're seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies.

ACOG. 2021. How your fetus grows during pregnancy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. a new window [Accessed January 2023]

ACOG. 2022. Induction of Labor at 39 Weeks. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. a new window [Accessed January 2023]

ACOG. 2021. When Pregnancy Goes Past Your Due Date. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. a new window [Accessed January 2023]

Cleveland Clinic. 2020. Fetal Development: Stages of Growth. a new window [Accessed January 2023]

Hadlock FP et al. 1991. In utero analysis of fetal growth: A sonographic weight standard. Radiology 181 (1). a new window [Accessed January 2023]

Hadlock FP et al. 1992. Fetal cross-rump length: Reevaluation of relation to menstrual age (5-18 weeks) with high-resolution real-time US. Radiology 182: 5-1-505. a new window [Accessed January 2023]

Hadlock FP. 1984. Estimating fetal age: Computer-assisted analysis of multiple fetal growth parameters. Radiology 152: 497-501. a new window [Accessed January 2023]

Kerbsbach, Lacy. 2017. How to know if your water breaks. Sanford Health. a new window [Accessed January 2023]

Mayo Clinic. 2021. Fetal development: The 3rd trimester. a new window [Accessed January 2023]

MedlinePlus (ADAM). 2019. Fetal development. a new window [Accessed January 2023]

MedlinePlus (ADAM). 2022. Premature rupture of membranes. a new window [Accessed January 2023]

Vintzileos AM et al. 1984. The ultrasound femur length as a predictor of fetal length. Obstetrics & Gynecology 64(6): 779-82. a new window [Accessed January 2023]

Kelly Burch

Kelly Burch is a freelance journalist covering health, entrepreneurship, family, and more. She's passionate about bringing complex topics to life through stories that are easy to read and informative. Burch lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two young daughters. When she's not at her desk, you'll find her kayaking or hiking in the wilderness around her home. Burch is currently writing a book about traveling around the United States in an RV with her family for seven months.

Advertisement | page continues below
Follow your baby's amazing development