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Being pregnant

Your pregnancy: 40 weeks

It's go time! Anytime now you'll be prepping to give birth.

By Today's Parent
Your pregnancy: 40 weeks

Photo: Mandy Milks, Erik Putz, Anthony Swaneveld. Felt: thefeltstore.com

What's going on in there: Fetal development at 40 weeks

A full-term baby typically weighs about 3.4 kilograms (7.5 pounds)—about the size of an average watermelon—and is about 51.3 centimetres (20.2 inches) long. Her eyes are open when she’s awake, but they’re closed when she’s sleeping. At 40 weeks pregnant, your baby's immune system isn’t fully developed yet, so your placenta will continue to provide antibodies up until the birth. Her hair and nails are still growing.

Midsection of pregnant woman touching stomach while standing against wall at home Cavan Images / Getty Images

Forty weeks pregnant symptoms

Sore ribs? Your ribcage has probably shifted to accommodate your baby, who might be causing pressure and pain as she moves and kicks. It’s OK to give that baby hand or foot a firm nudge—it won’t hurt the baby. Leaning back in a chair or applying a cold pack to your ribs might ease the ache, too.

Your doctor may order a non-stress test, which monitors the baby’s heartbeat and checks that it speeds up with movement. You might have an ultrasound this week to check on growth, movement and amount of amniotic fluid.

Anxious, excited, huge, uncomfortable, irritated, mellow, exhausted: That’s all part of these final few days. Pep talk: About 85 percent of babies are born within a week before or after their due dates, so hang in there!

woman at ultrasound bernardbodo / Getty Images

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What's on your mind this week

All baby, all the time: Even when you’re getting on with your non-mama life, your little one is likely always in your thoughts at this point in your pregnancy. It’s totally normal (plus everyone keeps texting you, asking “Have you had the baby yet?”). Of course, labour and delivery are on a continuous loop, too. Anxiety and fear about giving birth aren’t always easy to talk about. To deal, talk it out with someone with common sense who won’t feel the need to share freak-out birth stories. Review your pain-management options and reframe your view of labour and delivery as step-by-step parts of a process rather than one overwhelming event.

Birthing plans

Booking a doula, labouring at home until your contractions are one minute long and three to five minutes apart, taking warm showers and baths and talking to your doctor or midwife about reducing the need for interventions like IV lines (and, therefore, staying mobile during labour) are good ways to up the odds of an easier labour. Still, despite your best-laid plans, you may not have the labour and delivery you want, which is a real-life kickstart to the uncertainties of parenthood!

If everyone from the parking lot attendant to your mother-in-law is sharing tips on how to kick-start labour, it helps to know which ones have legit science to back them up. Sex (even if it’s not exactly what you’re in the mood for) can, in fact, lead to labour. Semen contains prostaglandins, which help soften the cervix, while orgasm releases the hormone oxytocin, which signals the uterine muscles to contract. Skip sex, though, if you’re bleeding or your water has broken.

We get it, you're ready to give birth

Pineapple, spicy foods, castor oil and red raspberry-leaf tea are traditional methods, but they tend to fall into the old-wives’-tale category. Nipple stimulation to bring on uterine contractions may help start labour, but research shows that it can cause more contractions and a more intense labour. Are more babies born during the full moon? While the hospital staff may say yes, studies show that it’s not the case.

Pregnant woman having painful feelings in breast Prostock-Studio / Getty Images

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Just for kicks

It’s definitely not required or expected, but a little treat for the labour and delivery nurses is a class-act move. A box of chocolates, gift cards for a coffee shop near the hospital and a basket of mini hand lotions are thoughtful ways to become patient of the week. 

Close-up of bouquet of flowers in hands of female doctor Valeriy_G / Getty Images

Thoughtful gifts for labour and delivery nurses

Great ways to say thank you

If you’re pregnant right now, you’ve probably encountered this question in forums plenty of times: “What kind of gift can I buy for my labour and delivery nurses?” Of course, this isn’t something you have to do. Nurses don’t expect to receive gifts, but after some awesome nurses help you through such an important time (trust us, the nurses who are on duty can make or break your whole labour experience—you barely see the doctors!), here are some great ways to give an extra thank you.

Labour and delivery nurse bottle-feeding newborn Photo: iStockphoto

Sandwich tray

Nurses always appreciate food, especially if it’s something that can be shared with the team and eaten throughout the day for lunch or dinner. But make sure you go to a grocery store to buy it instead of opting for homemade—most hospitals have to throw out homemade food given to them to prevent any possible transmission of disease from potential food-handling issues.

Your pregnancy: 40 weeks Photo: iStockphoto

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Punny badge holder

If you had a smaller group of nurses helping you, say thanks with this punny badge holder. They’ll surely have a laugh and remember you every time they look down at their badge.

Your pregnancy: 40 weeks Photo: BadgeBlooms via Etsy

Cute pens

There’s no such thing as too many pens, especially when boring-looking ones have the tendency to go missing. Buy a few packs of cute pens that can be shared with the team that helped you. Plus, you know that they’ll definitely get use out of them.

Your pregnancy: 40 weeks Photo: Indigo

Pastries or snacks

Not about the savoury? Bring the nurses something sweet that they can share like a box of donuts. But, again, play it safe and stay away from the homemade goods. Packaged snacks, which can be packaged in a gift basket, are perfect to keep in a staff room for everyone to share, too.

Your pregnancy: 40 weeks Photo: iStockphoto

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Card with a heartfelt note

You can never go wrong with a card with a sweet message inside—it’s the best way to say thank you! 

Your pregnancy: 40 weeks

Photo: iStockphoto

Flowers

Feel like a card isn’t enough? Add in a bouquet of flowers! This is a classic thank-you gift that never fails.

Your pregnancy: 40 weeks Photo: iStockphoto

Hand cream

With all the handwashing that goes on in a hospital, some hand cream would be welcomed with open arms. Go for mini ones that can easily be stored in a pocket or purse.

Your pregnancy: 40 weeks Photo: Bath and Body Works

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Tim Hortons or Starbucks gift card

Keep the nurses fuelled during their long shifts with a gift card they can buy coffee or tea with. Make sure the gift card is for a coffee shop that’s either in the hospital or close to it—nurses are busy people and don’t have time to walk far to get a coffee.

Your pregnancy: 40 weeks Photo: Tim Hortons, Starbucks

Baby names

Ines, Moana, Gunther, Kyd?! The hottest baby names for 2017 are…

woman pointing to name JGI/Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Pregnancy to-do list: Week 40

R&R should be at the top of your list this week. It’s a great time to take a power nap, watch TV, read, catch a movie or meet up with a friend. Actually, it’s also a great idea to canvass your friends for great Netflix, TV and download recommendations. Seriously, make a list and stock up on entertainment options so that you can turn all that time on the couch, snuggling with a baby on your boob (or snoozing in your arms), into a cozy night in with your partner. When the going gets tough, a fun, frivolous show to binge-watch or a comedy special can help lighten the mood (and keep you awake during late-night feedings).

Check the pre-baby prep details, too, making sure that both phones are charged (and there’s an extra charger in the go bag), the camera has working batteries and an SD card and the car has gas. If your partner is going out for one last night on the town with friends, remind him not to overindulge: Your water could break at any minute—even at 1 a.m. on a Saturday night.

Read more: 7 tips on how to ask for help with your new baby Why moms love that new baby smell Next up: 41 weeks pregnant

Your pregnancy: 40 weeks

This article was originally published on Jul 29, 2017

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