Congratulations on making it to 39 weeks pregnant! Your baby is finally considered full term!
Physiologically speaking, he’s ready to come out and join the world, even if he decides that he wants to stay right where he is for another week…or two…or three! Although, you’re probably sick and tired of waddling around, feeling bloated, and having heartburn, your baby might be very comfortable in his home.
On the other hand, there is a chance that you could go into labour during pregnancy week 39 (and if not, it will happen soon enough), so you need to have a very clear idea of what to expect from this week. Read our easy guide and learn everything you need to know at 39 weeks pregnant.
39 weeks pregnant: Any day now…
Your baby’s growth during the last few weeks has been remarkable, and by pregnancy week 39 nearly all of the work is done. He weighs between 7 and 8 pounds and measures between 19 and 21 inches long, which are most likely the full weight and length he will have when he’s born. There’s not a lot more time left to grow, as he’ll be making his grand entrance any day now.
Remember how his brain has been growing inside his skull, developing wrinkles and folds to increase the surface area, just like an adult’s brain? Well, by the time you’re 39 weeks pregnant, his head is 30% larger than it was during pregnancy week 35! In fact, almost one third of his entire weight comes from his head. All babies are a bit top heavy when they’re born, and their bodies play catch up for several months.
In fact, there are a few developments that won’t take place until a few months after your baby is born. You may be surprised to find out that a lot of your baby’s pigmentation develops slowly. That is, babies are almost all born white or very light, with greyish or greenish eyes. If he will grow up to have a darker complexion and darker eyes, this will start to become evident after several weeks.
He also won’t be able to cry real tears until a few weeks after birth, as his tear ducts aren’t fully developed yet. Don’t think you’ve got off scot-free, though; your little one will certainly wail and scream just like you’ve been expecting, he just won’t have any tears for you to wipe off his sweet little face yet.
39 weeks pregnant: Darkest before the dawn
By now, you should know some of the signs and symptoms that your body will go through when you are about to go into labour. Some of these were explained more thoroughly in the 37 weeks pregnant article. Unfortunately, at 39 weeks pregnant, just before going into labour, you may be feeling some of the worst side effects yet. As unpleasant as it may be, it’s all a part of your body preparing itself to give birth. Here’s what you can expect during pregnancy week 39:
- Your pelvis is aching more than ever as you’ve been carrying a heavy baby around in your birth canal for several days.
- You could be having even more Braxton Hicks contractions, and stronger than before.
- Diarrhoea or nausea are extremely common in women the day or two before labour begins, as the soft tissues in your body relax.
- You might have sudden bursts of extra energy, which is called the nesting instinct.
- On the other hand, you could suffer from extreme fatigue.
- You may lose your mucus plug if you haven’t already done so.
- When your discharge appears pinkish or brownish (often referred to as the bloody show), it usually means that labour is just around the corner.
- You could experience shooting pains down your leg, known as lightning crotch, due to pinched nerves from the baby’s pressure.
39 weeks pregnant: Maybe a quick check up with the doctor
During the last few weeks of your pregnancy, your doctor may have requested that you come in once a week just for quick measurements and to check that the baby’s activity still seems normal. This may or may not happen, depending on the circumstances of your pregnancy, and your doctor’s preferences.
If you do have an appointment at 39 weeks pregnant, the doctor will most likely just check the position and growth of your little one, and probably take a peek at your cervix to see if it has begun to soften and dilate. Unless there is some kind of complication or worrisome finding, there is nothing to do but wait for your little guy to make his arrival.
Will your baby make a dramatic entrance, or a quiet one? Although the classic image of the beginning of labour that pops into our minds is the water breaking, only very few women actually experience this before they begin having real contractions. In fact, some women’s water doesn’t break at all and the doctor has to do it during delivery. So remember, don’t wait for your water to break if you think you’re having genuine labour contractions!
You may be feeling impatient to meet your little one (and to get him off your bladder!), but most likely, he will go at his own pace. All you can do is be prepared, take care of yourself, and wait for the signals that it’s time to go! By 39 weeks pregnant, you know what you’re doing—you’ve got this, Mama! Don’t be nervous.