40 weeks pregnant

You and your baby's development

What's happening in week 40 of your pregnancy

Week 40 and beyond – time to get things moving!

At a glance

  • Your baby is now more than ready to be delivered
  • Your midwife will discuss your options for induction with you
  • Your pregnancy may be over but you are just beginning your amazing journey with your baby
40 Weeks pregnant

How big is my baby at 40 weeks?

Once you are at week 40, your baby is more than ready to be delivered, and you are no doubt more than ready to meet them! They’re likely to be around 50cm now and weighing between 6 and 8lbs which is a healthy weight.

Your baby’s vision at birth will have developed enough to see around 2.5cm so they won’t be able to see much of your face at birth, they will however be able to recognise the sound of your voice and your partner’s if you’ve been talking to them over the last few weeks of pregnancy.

If your due date has passed, your midwife will be keeping a close eye on you both, and in some cases may offer you an ultrasound scan to check on the well-being of your baby and your placenta (which could start to deteriorate if you go too overdue).

You midwife will also be regularly monitoring your unborn baby's movement and heartbeat, and will suggest an induction if there are any concerns

Facts to know about your baby in week 40

  • Only five per cent of babies are born on their due date (so don't count on it!)
  • The skull bones are not yet fused, which allows them to overlap a bit if it's a snug fit through the birth canal during labour.

You at 40 weeks pregnant

Your midwife will be keen to get things moving by the time you pass week 40 to prevent any potential problems. If your due date has come and gone, she will be discussing your options with you. She will most probably initially suggest doing a 'sweep' for you, where she uses her fingers to give you an internal examination and sweep around your cervix to try and loosen the membranes. This will (hopefully) release prostaglandins, which are the hormones which will get your labour started.

If this does not work, she will set a date for you to be induced in hospital – have a read of our overdue babies page for all the information you need on the various methods of induction.

Facts to know about you in week 40

  • As pregnancy progresses, a woman breathes less deeply, until lightening occurs (when baby drops into the pelvis) in the last days of her pregnancy.
  • An epidural is the gold standard of pain relief but can increase the length of labour.
  • The most popular day to give birth on is Tuesday!
  • Your placenta will trigger the hormones that signal the start of milk production.

What to think about in week 40

What else could there be to think about this week other than cuddling up with your new baby, and doing all those other magical 'firsts' now you are a mum? You and your newborn have been on quite a journey over the past 40 weeks, and this is only the beginning!

Make the most of every precious moment, and enjoy those wonderful 'getting to know you' days with your baby son or daughter! You never know, you might love it so much you'll want to do it all over again in a couple of years!

Bounty Portrait is looking forward to meeting both of you! Look out for your Bounty photographer, as they visit maternity wards daily. 

If you’ve made it to week 40, there’s no doubt you will be feeling more and more ready and impatient for your little one to make an appearance in the world. And it’s no wonder. You have your due date in your mind and as much as you are told it is an estimation, you can’t help getting wedded to the date and when you go past it you can start to feel fed up!

You may well be getting sick of hearing everyone’s advice by this point too. People mean well but sometimes you get advice that just isn’t helpful. Or – TMI! Every pregnancy and birth is different - just because your friend had a 4 day labour does not mean that you will! Take a lot of it with a smile and a pinch of salt.

You’re likely to be offered a membrane sweep. This is an internal examination that can help stimulate labour hormones. If this doesn’t work your midwife or doctor will suggest a date to be induced.

Induction is planned in advance and it’s your choice so make sure you ask any questions you have to understand why it is being recommended. 

`Now that there’s a good chance you’ll go overdue you may be wondering if you will end up needing an assisted delivery. Not necessarily. 

The words 'assisted delivery' aren't words mums really want to hear, especially if you had your heart set on a natural and 'hands off' approach to birth. However, if your baby is in an awkward position, showing signs of distress or if you have been labouring for hours and are becoming too tired to push effectively, your doctors might decide that using forceps or ventouse is the best course of action to deliver your baby swiftly and safely.

Signs and symptoms at 40 weeks pregnant


By now you may be having real contractions not Braxton Hicks. This means you are in the first stage of labour and the contractions may be as much as 20 minutes apart as your cervix is beginning to open and widen to around 3cm. They might not be very noticeable, feeling like mild cramps or menstrual pains. It’s likely you’ll be able to function well through them without too much discomfort and may even find you can continue with your normal routine for now.
Read more

Pregnancy insomnia

This late in your pregnancy you may be really struggling to sleep, with so much going on in your mind about what is to come. Other factors that may be keeping you awake include your body preparing for sleepless nights as well as how uncomfortable you may be this late in your pregnancy and finding it virtually impossible to get comfortable. There are some tips that can help you get a more restful sleep.
Read more 

Watch our videos below:

Video 1: When would I be induced and what's involved? (NHS content)

NHS Choices logo

Video 2: Bonding with a newborn

Video 3: How to position your sleeping baby


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At a glance

  • Your baby is now more than ready to be delivered
  • Your midwife will discuss your options for induction with you
  • Your pregnancy may be over but you are just beginning your amazing journey with your baby

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