Week 39 of Pregnancy
Your Baby in Week 39 of Pregnancy
Coming down to the wire, your baby weighs around seven to eight pounds and measures 19 to 21 inches. Those measurements won’t change much from now on, but her brain is still growing at an astonishing rate, a pace that will continue for the first three years of life. Her pink skin has now turned whitish (even babies who’ll eventually have darker skin appear whitish now — they haven’t yet developed pigment). Her head may have dropped into your pelvis by now, which makes your breathing easier but walking harder.
Learn more about your baby in week 39 and how fetal skills blossom.
Your Body in Week 39 of Pregnancy
The end (and a whole new beginning!) is in sight, so watch for the signs that your body is ready to get the show on the road. These include Braxton Hicks contractions; the rupture of the membranes (water breaking) that contain your amniotic fluid; the loss of the mucous plug (the “cork” of mucus that seals the opening of the uterus); and the bloody show (your capillaries rupture from the dilation and effacement of your cervix, causing any discharge to appear pink or red-tinged). Labor could be close (but no cigar — yet!).
Learn more about your body in week 39 and the bloody show.
Week 39 Pregnancy Tip: Preparing for a Cesarean
Many hospitals and birthing centers are increasingly sensitive to an expectant mother’s desire to be awake, comfortable, and with the people she loves both during and after delivery — even if that delivery is via a C-section. These days, most will try to accommodate your requests in a nonemergency situation, so ask for what you want. (Sorry, but pizza is probably a no-go.) Here are some requests to consider: to use a mirror or have the screen dropped so you can see the baby emerge; to listen to music during delivery; to have your hands free to touch your baby immediately after birth; to have your partner cut the cord; and to breastfeed in the recovery room. This is one time when it pays to be demanding. Making surgical delivery as pleasant as possible helps reduce the possibility of postpartum depression and allows you to bond more quickly with your baby.
Learn more about cesarean sections.
Week 39 Pregnancy Symptoms
More frequent Braxton Hicks contractions: If you’ve been experiencing these practice contractions, they may be getting stronger now. But if you haven’t had a contraction yet, don’t worry. Braxton Hicks contractions are more common in second (and subsequent) pregnancies.
Slowdown in fetal activity: As her living quarters become more cramped, you may notice a slowdown in fetal movement. Your baby’s coordination has improved and he’s less likely to make involuntary jabs (even if he had the room).
Heartburn or indigestion: Your heartburn may be at its peak now. Don’t worry, relief is around the corner when you deliver. For relief now, drink liquids before or after meals instead of during.
Bloody show or loss of mucous plug: The discharge from your vagina might be tinged with blood (either pinkish or brownish) as the blood vessels in the cervix rupture. Don’t worry — it’s a sign that your cervix is dilating, or opening up, and that’s a good thing. Another event that may occur this week: The mucous plug may fall out (and into the toilet). Losing it isn’t a sign that childbirth is hours away, but it does mean it’s around the corner.
Rupture of membranes (possibly): Another sign that labor may be near — if your amniotic sac breaks and gushes out fluid. But don’t worry about causing a flood while you’re standing in the grocery checkout line. Despite what you’ve seen in movies, most women are in labor (and in the hospital) by the time their water breaks. If yours does break, call your practitioner.
Diarrhea or nausea: As your body gets ready for childbirth, the muscles may loosen in your rectum, resulting in loose bowel movements. You may also suffer some nausea. It’s important to keep drinking water to avoid dehydration.
Hemorrhoids: If you’re experiencing diarrhea, your hemorrhoids may actually be less painful now since you’re not straining to move your bowels the way you did when you were constipated. Just be aware that pushing during labor can aggravate hemorrhoids, so stock up on all the soothers that brought you relief.
Pelvic pressure and discomfort: Your baby’s head is putting pressure on your pelvis, making you feel uncomfortable. Other symptoms of discomfort could include menstrual-like cramps and indigestion, which can also be signs of early contractions.
Backaches: Your backaches could be worse now as you count down the final weeks. You can soothe a sore back by getting into the shower and letting the warm water pulse onto your back.