40 Weeks Pregnant and No Signs of Labor - Should You Worry?

40 Weeks Pregnant and No Signs of Labor – Should You Worry?

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Shruti Kainth (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
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The moment when a woman comes to know that she is pregnant, she eagerly waits for her baby’s arrival. She is ready to bear all the pregnancy complications to nurture her baby. If you are 40 weeks pregnant, you must be all set to welcome your little one into this world. The big day isn’t very far, and you are most likely preparing to hold your little one in your arms very soon. But, what if you do not show any signs of labour at 40 weeks? Is it normal? Does pregnancy at 40 weeks and no sign of labour mean you will have to deliver via c-section? Let’s find out more.

What Should You Expect At 40 Weeks?

At 40 weeks, you can almost see the finish line. It has been a long journey for you, your loved ones, and even your baby. Here’s what pregnancy at 40 weeks looks like for baby and mom.

1. The Baby Will Be Low

Both you and the baby will be preparing for delivery, which means your baby has mostly descended quite a bit, which puts pressure on your pelvis. You may find yourself waddling due to this pressure. Also watch for shooting pains up your crotch area, due to nerve compression.

2. Due Date Extension

You may be eagerly waiting for the day when your baby is finally in your arms, but there’s a high chance of your due date getting extended. Your uterus offers a cozy environment for the little one, and maybe they want to stay for just a while longer.

3. Baby Weight

At 40 weeks, your baby’s weight should be around the 7-7.5 pound mark. This range stretches even further so don’t be too worried if your little one has a weight that falls outside of it.

4. Testing Time

Just to ensure the good health of both you and the baby, the doctor might schedule certain tests such as an ultrasound and nonstress test. These tests are part of a biophysical profile, and there’s no reason to worry.

40 Weeks Pregnant and No Signs of Labour – Is it Normal?

As you enter the 40th week of pregnancy, you know that any day now your baby will be delivered. Hence, it is only normal to get restless, but there is no need to panic. The good news is that you are not the only one sailing this boat. It has been observed that only 10 percent babies are born on their due date.

Majority of babies are born between 37 and 41 weeks of pregnancy. However, twins or multiple babies are usually born before 37 weeks. Also, the due date given by the doctor is just an estimated date, and it may vary as your pregnancy progresses, depending on the growth and development of the baby. Some babies are also born after 42 weeks, though the chances are extremely rare. Therefore, it is very normal to be in your 40th week of pregnancy and still not show any signs of labour.

Reasons of No Signs Of Labour At 40 Weeks Pregnancy

Wondering why you are showing no signs of labour at 40 weeks? Here are some common reasons for an overdue baby.

  • This is your first pregnancy.
  • You or your family have a history of giving birth post-term.
  • Your due date was calculated incorrectly.
  • Your pregnancy weight is more than normal/
  • Your baby is a boy.

What You Can Do About It?

If you have reached the 40-week mark of your pregnancy, and the signs of labour are nowhere to be seen, do not stress as it will only postpone labour. Instead, try this:

1. Relax

Yes, you have waited long enough and these 2 weeks must be making you restless, but there is no need to panic or worry. The best you can do is relax and be patient. Try spending time with your friends or family members. Talk to them and enjoy some family time. Thinking about labour will only leave you stressed, which does no good, and you must be in a calm state to get ready for the delivery, which will happen anytime now.

2. Meditate

Meditation is a great way to calm and relax your mind and body. Meditation can also help you manage stress. Sit in an open space or natural surroundings, close your eyes, let go of all the thoughts in your mind, and meditate. It will calm you down and also reduce the stress on your baby.

3. Rest and Sleep

The best way to get over your worries is by sleeping and resting. A good 8 hours of sleep will relax and rejuvenate you any given time. When your baby arrives, your sleeping and resting schedule may go for a toss, so it is best to take as much rest as possible now.

A pregnant woman sleeping

4. Indulge in Your Hobbies

Pursue your hobbies while you can because once the baby arrives, you will have no time for that. It will shift your focus from the negative thoughts and feelings that you might be having during this time. Therefore, it may be a good time to indulge in your favourite hobby. Go ahead and read a book, paint, sing or listen to your favourite music.

5. Climb Stairs

It may sound a bit strange, but climbing stairs may actually help in inducing labour in the 40th week of your pregnancy. Climbing stairs can put some pressure on the pelvis and might help trigger labour.

6. Try Acupressure

Acupressure is an age-old therapy wherein one can bring about healing by pressing various pressure points located all over the body. In some cases, acupressure can help promote labour. According to the acupressure experts, there are six major acupressure points on the body that help in inducing labour. If pressed correctly, the signs of labour start within 1 to 4 days of the acupressure massage.

A pregnant woman getting acupressure

7. Have Sex

Yes, it is true! Have sex with your partner, and soon your baby will be ready for arrival. The orgasm that you’d experience could help trigger the contractions, and the prostaglandins present in the semen could also help induce labour during the later stages of pregnancy.

8. Try Nipple Stimulation

Although it is a bit uncomfortable, nipple stimulation could be one way you could induce labour. If you find it painful or uncomfortable, you can use a breast pump to do the stimulating action for you. Stimulating the nipples helps release oxytocin, a hormone that induces contractions, and hence you may soon go into labour.

We all know c-section is a solution to several pregnancy complications. Does no sign of labour in the 40th week of pregnancy indicate you could need a c-section? Let’s find out.

40 Weeks and No Signs of Labour – Does It Indicate a C-Section?

If you have not gone into labour until 40 weeks of pregnancy, it is bound to worry you. Some women also tend to think that they may have to undergo a c-section. But, a c-section could be required because of various other pregnancy complications too. Your medical practitioner may suggest a caesarean delivery if you are more than 41 weeks pregnant with no apparent signs of labour, i.e. no contractions, no dilation of the cervix, etc.

Some of the complications women could have at 40 weeks of their pregnancy are –

  • Growth in the size of the baby due to delayed labour which could affect his passage through the birth canal. This condition is also called macrosomia.
  • Foetal distress due to asphyxia, presence of meconium in the amniotic fluid, etc. that could affect the foetal movement.
  • Inadequate supply of nutrients and oxygen to the baby.
  • A decline in the volume of the amniotic fluid.

Your expected date of delivery (EDD) is just an estimation, and no one can exactly tell when the baby will be delivered. So, there is no need to worry even if you show no signs of labour after 40 weeks of pregnancy. All you can do is consult your gynaecologist, discuss any physical or mental concerns you have, and wait till the baby is finally ready to come into this world.

References/Resources:

1. Overdue pregnancy: What to do when baby’s overdue; Mayo Clinic; https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/overdue-pregnancy/art-20048287; July 2022

2. Week 40; NHS; https://www.nhs.uk/start-for-life/pregnancy/week-by-week-guide-to-pregnancy/3rd-trimester/week-40/

3. 40 Weeks Pregnant; American Pregnancy Association; https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/week-by-week/40-weeks-pregnant/

4. Pregnancy and birth: When your baby’s due date has passed; National Library of Medicine; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279571/; September 2008

5. Signs That Labor Is 24 to 48 Hours Away; Cleveland Clinic; https://health.clevelandclinic.org/signs-that-labor-is-24-to-48-hours-away/; April 2021

Also Read: A Guide To Stages of Labour and Delivery

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