I do think they can, and from the work I've done with birth educators and women, I think the evidence is around. Some women do it in actual labour if they are too scared to let the baby out of their bodies, for example, if they don't feel safe, were abused as a child, have had a previous traumatic birth experience. In a hospital they generally just pump you full of drugs but in a good, well supported birth, the woman gets a chance to talk about the fear, deal with it and then give birth to her baby in an empowering way.
40 weeks is barely cooked so your babe is probably just hanging around, choosing a birthday, and making themselves perfect to meet you. If you were in France, you wouldn't be considered cooked as they teach that a fullterm pregnancy is 41 weeks. So that's a cultural hangup right there
Since 95% of babies DON'T come on the edd, makes sense not to worry about it at all. I've never seen anyone pregnant more than a year
About 80% of babies are born in the 41st week, I believe, so I think the French have their guesstimates closer.
My MW asked me as I approached 41 weeks if I had any unfinished business to attend to, or outstanding conflicts, in case they were going to have an impact on me. A friend of mine was under huge pressure to have a c-sec for no medical reason when she was planning a HB. The pressure on her was so huge she didn't go into labour until about 44 weeks. She swears it was the emotional stress put on her and how unsafe she felt.
Sounds like you could use a cup of tea and a chat with a close friend. Then you can make sure your mind is clear and your heart is all ready for this new blessing. All that doing doing doing that you describe is a great sign of impending labour as you're nesting and making your birth environment perfect - your uterus may not realise it's going to hospital, if you're a hospy birther LOL, it just wants the space around it now to be perfect.
So just relax, and let nature work her magic on you. I think some jitters and wondering is perfectly normal! You wouldn't be human without them. What women with more than 1 child tell me is that once the new one arrives they can't imagine how it was without them. You know that already!
Put your feet up!