Every movement and every small activity seems uncomfortable and painful – what with a bulging belly weighing you down like a huge boulder. If only there was a way to fast forward the weeks to get to your due date.

While it’s natural for most pregnant women to go through these feelings, going the full course and staying patient can prove to be healthy and beneficial in the long run.

Why is it important to wait till 40 weeks of your pregnancy?

Even though your baby is considered full term at 37 weeks, staying pregnant until 39-40 weeks has tremendous benefits for both, you and your baby. Research shows that every week of pregnancy is important for the baby’s development. If you’ve tracked your pregnancy week by week, you’ll see the rapid progress your baby makes during each week. The last few weeks of pregnancy are as important as any other week – as many vital organs are still developing at this stage. Consider this, at 35 weeks gestation, your baby’s brain is only about 2/3 the size that it would be at 39-40 weeks. This is also the period when the folds of the brain – which help co-ordinate the sucking and swallowing action – are developing. Studies show that full term babies are able to suck and swallow more effectively than babies born earlier.

So if you’ve had a healthy pregnancy so far, you’ll be doing more good than harm by waiting for another few weeks to allow your baby to grow into a healthy full term baby.

A baby born before 37 weeks is considered pre-mature. Unless there is a complication or a medical reason, don’t push to have the baby earlier. Because full term babies are healthier. They have fewer complications, and need fewer medical interventions. They also spend less time in the ICU so they are sent home faster.

Here’s more reason why you should give your baby 40 weeks of pregnancy

  • The last few weeks are crucial for the development of baby’s brain, lungs and liver – which are growing at accelerated rates
  • Babies born at 40 weeks are able to suck and swallow better, because of advanced muscle development
  • Premature babies are at an increased risk of having vision and hearing problems later in life
  • During the last six weeks or pregnancy the connections needed for balance, coordination, learning, and social functioning is added in the brain. It is also during this time that the baby’s brain size doubles in size.
  • A premature baby’s lungs are not fully developed at birth, so it’s likely to suffer from respiratory problems.
  • Extra fat accumulated during the last few weeks of pregnancy allows baby to prepare for birth
  • Babies born before 38 weeks have an increased risk of learning and behavioral problems
  • Compared to babies born early, full term born babies perform better at school due to better developed brains
  • A premature baby’s liver is underdeveloped and hence not able to perform its function of removing bilirubin from the body. Excess of bilirubin can cause jaundice in early babies.

A quick look at pregnancy symptoms at 40 weeks

You’re in the final weeks of pregnancy almost reached the end of the journey. With the big day just around the corner, it’s a good idea to keep your hospital bag ready – because the baby may pop out any time. Meanwhile, here are some symptoms that are typical during 40 weeks of pregnancy

  • You may run out of patience due to sheer tiredness
  • Getting a good night’s sleep may be difficult
  • Your body is preparing for labour, so watch out for those early signs of labour – like abdominal cramps, bleeding/spotting
  • A lot of women experience the ‘nesting instinct’ – an obsession to clean the house and prepare for baby’s homecoming.
  • Your baby drops further down into the pelvis. As a result you could have some discomfort in the lower abdomen.
  • Since the baby has been pushed down, it exerts extra pressure on your bladed, increasing the frequency of your visits to the toilet
  • Sometimes, even before the onset of labour, the water bag may break (rupture of the amniotic sac). It’s normally a sign that labour will begin in the next 24 hours.
  • This is also the time when you may experience the Braxton Hicks Contractions. These are irregular, false contractions which may be hard to be distinguished from the real labour.

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