Congratulations! Now that you are entering week 39 of your pregnancy, your baby is entitled to be referred to as ‘full-term.’ He is now as big as a small pumpkin. His brain development continues to be in full swing, and you may be experiencing signs of real labor.
As he has finally attained the status of a ‘full-term baby,’ he currently weighs approximately 7 to 8 lbs. and is 19 to 21 inches long. Those measurements are less likely to change from this point onwards, but his brain is developing at an incredible rate. During this week, your baby, like you, is just waiting for the green signal to make his debut. All babies at 39 weeks are fully grown and are in a head down position, waiting for those first lovely moments of touching their mother’s skin and getting the first feed.
Your baby continues to shed the Vernix Caseosa this week, which will be mixed into the remaining amniotic fluid, likely to be swallowed by the baby. Have you heard that newborn babies cry a lot? You will be surprised to notice that when your newborn wakes up in the middle of the night for milk and is supposedly crying, you will not see any tears coming out of his eyes.
This is because their tear ducts are not functioning right now. While you console your crying baby during the initial months of his life, it will take some time after the first month before you will wipe off tears off his cheeks. Regardless of the skin color of your baby, the skin will change from pink to white because of pigmentation. Your baby’s blood vessels will have a layer of fat, which make his/her cheeks irresistibly kissable.
What Happens Right After Birth?
Your baby splutters or cries immediately after birth for clearing his airway immediately after birth. It will take a few minutes for him to establish his regular breathing pattern. Newborns breathe in cycles that consist of fast and slow breaths. Sometimes, he pauses for five or more seconds at a time. Your midwife or your pediatrician will immediately take of your baby when he is born, for checking his health by means of the Apgar scale, which is built to assess a newborn’s heart rate, reflexes, breathing, muscle tone and color.
With each passing week, you are feeling more uncomfortable. Your pelvis is under tremendous pressure and aches frequently. Braxton Hicks contractions are increasing in frequency and strength. That is actually a good thing as it means your body is preparing for the big day. During your now-weekly visits, the doctor will likely conduct an abdominal check to figure out your baby’s position and growth. You may also undergo an internal exam so your cervix can be examined. Your doctor will check whether your cervix has started effacing (thinking out), softening and dilating (opening).
However, this information will do little to make labor approach as nobody can predict the exact day and time for a natural delivery. You will probably hear your doctor announcing the date as ‘any day from now.’ For all pregnant women who go past their due date, the doctor schedules fetal testing (an ultrasound) following 40 weeks to make sure the pregnancy is safe to continue. Several pregnant women do not go into labor on their own and may need the doctor to induce labor.
This usually happens when you are one or two weeks overdue. If you are guilty of stuffing yourself with curry and pineapple in an attempt of going into labor, you might be getting tired of trying too much. Some expectant mums also drink plenty of raspberry leaf tea and rigorous walking (even though it’s difficult) in an attempt to deliver as soon as they hit the week 39 mark. Don’t stress yourself and try to enjoy these final moments of your pregnancy. Talk to your baby out loud and decide on names with your partner.
Signs of Labor
Being 39 weeks pregnant implies you can go into labor any day. Be careful to watch out for signs of labor, which include water breaking (rupturing of the membranes that contain amniotic fluid), diarrhea or nausea as many pregnant women go through digestive disturbances before the onset of labor, as well as nesting instinct and the loss of the mucous plug. Sometimes, a bloody discharge is also a sign of labor and occurs as your capillaries rupture from the effacement and dilation of your cervix. This causes any discharge to be tinged with blood.
Once you spot this bloody show, labor may just be a couple of days away. However, it can be different for every woman. What you can do right now is to keep all essentials and baby gear packed in your bag so you don’t have to rush at the last moment.
Preparing for a C-Section Delivery
If there is an indication that the risk of waiting is greater than the risk of delivering your baby, your doctor will plan an emergency C-section. A large number of hospitals and birthing centers are becoming sensitive to an expectant mom’s desire to remain comfortably awake when the C-section is taking place and even after the delivery. The doctor may accommodate your request, particularly if it is a non-emergency situation. Some of the common requests that are made by pregnant women who about to deliver via a C-section include:
- If they can use a mirror or have the screen dropped to see the baby emerge
- Have comforting music in the background during delivery
- Touch the baby immediately after he is born
- Have your partner cut the cord
- Breastfeed in the recovery room
Some hospitals make all attempts to make the Cesarean delivery as pleasant as possible, which helps to reduce postpartum depression, particularly common after a C-section.
What to Expect during Week 39
As you make your way into week 39, your backaches may have become worse by now. Relieve your back by taking a hot shower or getting soaked in a warm tub.
As your baby’s head puts pressure on the pelvis, it makes you feel uncomfortable. These symptoms include indigestion and menstrual-like cramps. These are often early signs of labor.
One important sign your labor is near is when your amniotic sac breaks and fluid begins to gush out. Most women are in their respective hospitals by the time their water breaks but don’t be embarrassed to cause a flood in a grocery store. People are aware of what’s going on and may actually help you out if you let them know your water has broken.
Tips for Week 39
- Flatulence is inevitable during the last days of your labor and there is little you can do about it right now. However, stick to eating small meals, as this will also help you avoid diarrhea before labor.
- Your body has been working overtime to sustain a full-grown baby in your tummy. Rest as much as you can as you may have company any day during the week!
- ‘Lightning’ is when your baby presses on your pelvic nerves to prepare you for delivery. These pains shoot from your vagina down your legs. Don’t take any pain medication to relieve this sensation.
Find out what to expect during the week 40 of pregnancy.