Your developing baby – week 40

by Kaiser Permanente |
Fetus at week 40, illustration

Hello little one!

At birth, a newborn usually:

  • Remains curled up (fetal position) before they get used to having space to  finally stretch those arms and legs.
  • Most newborns like to be wrapped snugly in a blanket (swaddled). This feeling resembles the uterus, and babies find this soothing. 

Once born, your baby's eyes can focus on objects 8-12 inches away, which is about the distance from your chest to your face. Their hearing is completely developed, and their favorite sounds are your voices and heartbeat that they became familiar with in the womb. 

Right after birth, we:

  • Place your baby on your chest or stomach, skin-to-skin and gently stimulate for baby’s first cry.
  • May suction mucus out of your baby’s mouth and nose.
  • Assess your baby at 1 minute and 5 minutes of life to give an Apgar score, which measures heart rate, muscle tone, and other signs to see if special care may be needed. 
  • Ask your support person or partner if they would like to cut the umbilical cord. 

If needed, we give your baby special care at birth. As soon as possible, we return your baby to your arms for bonding and more skin-to-skin contact with you and your support person.

As long as you and baby are doing well, we recommend uninterrupted skin-to-skin for the first hour after birth, or until after the first breastfeeding. 

After birth, your care team will also measure your baby’s weight and height, and later provide a thorough check-up and a few screening tests for your baby, including a hearing test.

This article has been created by a national group of Kaiser Permanente ob-gyns, certified nurse-midwives, pediatricians, lactation consultants and other specialists who came together to provide you with the best pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and newborn information.

Some of the content is used and adapted with permission of The Permanente Medical Group.