When you’re 40 weeks pregnant, your baby’s due date arrives! You may experience signs of labour including contractions, though most babies are born after their due date.
Week-by-week stages of pregnancy: week 40
Congratulations you have now reached your baby's due date! At 40 weeks pregnant your baby has grown seven times taller than they were at 12 weeks and is nearly 200 times heavier. Things could start at any time now. Before it actually begins, you may experience signs and symptoms of labour, for example; contractions that do not settle into a pattern. These may be painful and could start several days early. Labour will begin when contractions are regular. This indicates that you are entering into the first stage of labour.
However, only 5% of babies are born on their due date. First babies are often late or ‘post-term’, subsequent babies or twins are often ‘pre-term’ or ‘premature’.
It can be very frustrating to go through your due date with not so much as a twinge, so it might be a good idea to make some plans to distract yourself. Invite your friends over or plan something with your partner. The best thing you can do whilst you wait for your new arrival is be prepared, ensure you have everything you need for the birth and the telephone numbers to hand, make sure your transport to the birth centre or hospital is ready or fit the car seat, and practise what you learnt in your antenatal classes.
If you haven’t given birth by the time you are 40 weeks pregnant, your midwife may offer a 'membrane sweep' to start labour off. Your midwife or GP may also discuss options for induction with you, which is a way of starting labour artificially.
Further help and information
NCT's helpline offers practical and emotional support in all areas of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700. We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.
Join in with NCT on Facebook and Twitter - it's a great way to make new friends and stay in touch with old ones. Or joint our community for new parents on Google+ where you can connect with other parents online who are experiencing similar things.