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Week 40 of Your Pregnancy: Care Instructions

Fetus in uterus, with detail of development at 40 weeks pregnant


By week 40, you have reached your due date. Your baby could be coming any day. But it's a good idea to think ahead to the next few weeks and what might happen.

If this is your first time having a baby, try not to worry. If you don't start labour on your own by 41 or 42 weeks, your doctor may recommend giving you medicines to start labour.

Talk to your doctor or midwife about breathing exercises you can do if you start to feel anxious or if you're trying to relax.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

This care sheet gives you information about how labour can be started. It also gives you some ideas about breathing exercises you can do if you start to feel anxious or if you are trying to relax.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Learn how labour can be started

  • If you and your baby are both healthy and ready, and if your cervix has started to open, your doctor or midwife may "break your water" (rupture the amniotic sac). This often starts labour.
  • If your cervix is not quite ready, you may get a medicine called Pitocin through an IV to start contractions.
  • If your cervix is still very firm, you may have prostaglandin tablets (misoprostol) placed in your vagina to soften the cervix.

Try guided imagery to help you relax

  • Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Close your eyes.
  • Start by just taking a few deep breaths to help you relax.
  • Picture a setting that is calm and peaceful. This could be a beach, a mountain setting, a meadow, or a scene that you choose.
  • Imagine your scene, and try to add some detail. For example, is there a breeze? What does the sky look like? Is it clear, or are there clouds?
  • It often helps to add a path to your scene. For example, as you enter the meadow, imagine a path leading you through the meadow to the trees on the other side. As you follow the path farther into the meadow you feel more and more relaxed.
  • When you are deep into your scene and are feeling relaxed, take a few minutes to breathe slowly and feel the calm.
  • When you are ready, slowly take yourself out of the scene back to the present. Tell yourself that you will feel relaxed and refreshed and will bring that sense of calm with you.
  • Count to 3, and open your eyes.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.