40 Weeks Pregnant
By 40 weeks pregnant you have a completely formed baby, with everything in working order, ready and waiting to be born at any time!
Ideally, baby should be well settled in the head down position. Your midwife will check this. But if baby is breech, or bottom down, the professionals will either try to turn baby, or make arrangements for baby to be delivered by caesarean section.
The average baby will be about 50cm long at this stage and weigh about 7 and a half pounds. This of course can vary quite a bit.
The birth of your baby really is imminent, it could happen at any time! You will want to double check that your bag is ready and you have your notes ready to go in to hospital at any time. Make sure you include your birth plan if you have one.
From 40 weeks onwards your midwife may offer to do a cervical sweep to try to get things going. This involves sweeping a finger around the rim of your cervix. Your midwife will be able to feel how soft your cervix is. The softer it is, the more imminently you are likely to go into labour.
You may want to wear a sanitary towel just in case your waters break while you are out.
It’s a good idea to have things arranged to keep you occupied, even for your due-date so that you avoid being sat around twiddling your thumbs.
If you go more than a week overdue, your midwife will arrange a date for you to be induced. Hopefully it won’t come to that!
My Second Pregnancy Diary - Week 40
On Thursday at 39 + 4 weeks I was out in the evening. I felt fed up and tired and like I really didn’t want to be out or face anyone. I convinced Davo to take me home as soon as possible because I just felt strange and wanted to go home. My waters broke at about 11.30pm. I felt a sudden gush and thought ‘this is it, I probably won't reach 40 weeks pregnant!’
Davo got me a towel as the amniotic fluid continued to trickle out. I got on the phone to the midwives who advised me to try to get as much sleep as I could.
I didn’t really sleep much and by the early hours, around 1am, I was pacing around the lounge and contractions were getting stronger and more frequent.
By 3am I decided to call my mum and my sister who were my other birth partners. They came over, but not long after that, my contractions became less frequent and almost stopped altogether.
All day Friday my contractions were very infrequent, I just got the odd one now and then. The midwife came to check me, she said that she thought things would get going again by the evening, but she booked me in for an induction at 11am on the Saturday just incase. At this rate I was starting to feel I might reach 40 weeks pregnant after all.
I tried to walk around as much as possible and slept a bit too. By 8pm on the Friday the contractions had started up again, and by 10pm they were becoming very strong.
We had to phone the midwife and arrange for her to meet us at the birthing unit. We met her there at 11.15pm. The car journey was horrible and my contractions were getting really painful.
The midwife examined me and told me I was only 2-3cm dilated and therefore only in the latent phase of labour! I was so disheartened by this as I was in such a lot of pain. She indicated that the labour could go on for a long time like it had with Freddy and that I should go to the maternity centre at the nearby city so that I could have an epidural.
By now I was getting a terrible pain in my bottom and it was becoming unbearable. I had to get back in the car and be driven to the hospital. This was the most awful journey of my entire life, I cannot describe how much pain I was in, I was praying the whole way.
When we arrived I was told by a midwife again that I was only in the latent phase of labour, and that because of this they wouldn’t allow me to have gas and air. I was desperate and pleaded with her, but all she could offer me was paracetamol!
We managed to convince her to examine me again and she confirmed that I was still only 3cm dilated. I felt so desperate, I just wanted it to end, but I was convinced I was going to be like this for ages, and I wasn’t allowed an epidural either.
Eventually the midwife agreed to let me have diamorphine, which is an injection that makes you drowsy and more able to relax through the pain.
I spent about 1 hour lying sleepily on my side with my sister timing my contractions, which were now about 2 minutes long with only 45 seconds in between. Apparently I started grunting and pushing down, so my sister pressed the buzzer, and a different midwife came in.
She examined me and confirmed that I was fully dilated! From arriving at the hospital and being told I was only 3cm, only about 2 hours had passed! If the first midwife had kept me at the birthing unit I would have been able to have the water birth I wanted.
I was told that now it was too late for gas and air, and that it was time to push my baby out. I spent 20 minutes pushing, and let me tell you, pushing is such a relief from the pain. Even though it stings when the baby’s head crowns, it’s nothing compared to the pain beforehand.
So my baby was born at 3.07am on the Saturday, I didnt quite reach the 40 weeks pregnant mark. She came out completely covered in vernix and we all thought she looked big.
When they weighed her we were surprised to hear that she was 8lbs 9.5oz! She was about a pound bigger than predicted.
She had loads of dark hair and was very alert and looking around straight away. She latched on and had a good feed about 20 minutes after being born.
We took her home 12 hours later, and after some discussion we decided to call her Juniper Damaris.
It was a magical experience, despite not getting the water birth I’d wanted.
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