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Week 40 of pregnancy | Third Trimester

(counting from the first day of last menstrual period)

Congratulations – you have reached the last ‘official’ week of your pregnancy! Let’s take a look at last-minute preparations as well as the three stages of labour.

In Week 40 your practitioner might suggest induction if he or she feels that the pregnancy has continued long enough. However, keep in mind that your baby’s due date is only an estimate, and it’s normal for first-time mothers especially to be a week or two overdue. Only 4% of women will actually give birth on their due date, while the rest will give birth two weeks before or two weeks after. But the time will come, whether you are ready or not… call your doctor, grab your bag and take a slow drive to the hospital. If this is your first baby, you can expect to be in labour for on average 13 hours, while if it’s your second – eight hours. But this varies from woman to woman, and anything less or more is completely normal.

If this is your first birth, you will realise how fake Braxton-Hick contractions have been. Real labour contractions are more intense, more painful and come in waves of three to four every ten minutes – each one lasting up to 60 seconds.

Your baby is more than likely one of 96% of babies who is ready to come out – head down and deeply snuggled into your pelvis. By week 40 your baby’s immune system is still immature and he or she receives antibodies from the placenta. After birth your baby will receive antibodies from your breastmilk. The average baby weighs about 3.5 kilos and measures in at 50 centimetres at birth.

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Try to get some sleep before your baby arrives, you are going to need it! Also, be aware of your partner’s signs of going into labour. There are three stages of labour, and the first stage is usually the longest. This is when your partner starts having infrequent contractions, which soon increases in frequency and strength. The next stage is transition – which begins when your partner’s cervix is fully dilated and sees your baby moving into the birth canal and subsequently being pushed out. The third stage of labour is the birth of the placenta, and is usually very quick.

That’s it for Week 1 through to Week 40 of your pregnancy… If your baby hasn’t been born by the end of this week, don’t be alarmed. Just keep practising breathing techniques and stay in touch with your practitioner should you have any concerns. Your baby will arrive soon enough!

Congratulations to both of you on going through the pregnancy together, and congratulations on becoming parents!

Tip of the Week | be encouraged

Don't feel pressured to see friends during the first two weeks after your little one's arrival - it's time for the family (mom, dad, baby and siblings) to bond. You obviously need to allow grandparents to see their new brand-new grandchild, but besides them, it's okay to be selfish with your time. Schedule visits as it fits you.

Baby Quote of the Week | be inspired

I told my mother I was going to have natural childbirth. She said to me, 'Linda, you've been taking drugs all your life. Why stop now? Linda Maldonado

Good Reads | be informed

What to expect when you're expecting by Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi E. Murkoff and Sandee E. Hathaway. This is a comprehensive overhaul of the classic pregnancy bible, What to Expect when you are Expecting, with line-by-line revisions and updates of the text.


Baby Names we Like | be prepared