Picture and Explanation of How Your Baby is Growing and Developing at 40 Weeks Pregnant (at term)

40 weeks pregnant picture at term external

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40 weeks pregnant at term picture (external)

Source: The Growing Uterus Charts
© 1985, 2006 Childbirth Connection
At your 40th week of pregnacy, when the uterus descends, the upper abdominal organs and diaphragm return to their usual positions. The abdominal contour changes as the fundus, the top of your uterus, drops and projects further forward. The intestines are still crowded behind and above the fundus, although a loop may slip forward between the front wall of the uterus and the omentum (the fold of the membrane which connects the stomach to the other abdominal organs).

The elongated and enlarged round ligament is shown in this picture with its uterine attachment far below the fundus and separated from the broad ligament by the expansion of the uterine wall. It is also farther forward because of the twisting of the uterus. The enlarged uterosacral ligament is shown stretched taut by the enlarged uterus. Backaches in late pregnancy may be due to the stress of the weight of the uterus on the uterosacral ligaments attached to the spine.

The descent of the uterus explains the easier breathing during the latter weeks of pregnancy, the comparative comfort after eating, and partial relief from the smothered feeling.

The uterine ligaments undergo prolonged stretching during pregnancy. After delivery, adequate rest is essential to permit the ligaments to regain the elasticity and tone, which they must have to hold the uterus in good position.

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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 6/4/2013