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Week 39 of Pregnancy: All You Need to Know

Baby Development|Body and Life Changes|Your Doctor Visits|Health and Safety
Week 39 of Pregnancy: All You Need to Know

Baby Development

How is my baby growing?

At week 39 of pregnancy baby development, your infant is even more prepared to live outside the womb. So every part of the baby’s body is growing rapidly, in sync with many changes in your own physique.

Your infant’s chest is becoming more noticeable at 39 weeks of pregnancy baby development. If your baby is a boy, his testes continue to go lower in the scrotum. The baby is accumulating fat. Their body is getting rounder, and the added fat will keep your baby comfortably warm after birth.

Other signs of growth at week 39 of pregnancy baby development are:

  • The baby’s lungs are functional outside the mother’s body and are fully formed due to the ongoing development of alveoli. The baby is prepared to breathe and cry. However, tear ducts have yet to fully open.
  • The baby’s head takes the shape of a cone (if with prolonged labor only) as they descend into the birth canal.
  • At 6.5 lbs., your baby’s weight is equal to that of a watermelon.
  • The baby’s skin color changes from pink to white, regardless of what his or her final complexion will be.

Body and Life Changes

How is my body changing?

At week 39 of pregnancy baby development, your body changes in preparation for childbirth. A heavy feeling is natural because of body changes like:

  • An expanded uterus. Before pregnancy, your uterus weighed around two ounces. Now it has grown to two and a half pounds. After childbirth, your uterus will shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size. And it will also go back to its place under your pubic bone.
  • An aching pelvis. This may occur as the baby goes down some more.
  • Braxton Hicks contractions. Braxton Hicks is false labor, characterized by irregular intervals and mild contractions, that can be mistaken for true labor. Observe your body and stay on the lookout for true labor, which has regular intervals of contractions with increasing intensity.
  • Discomfort during sleep. Your belly is growing and you may find it hard to get into a comfortable sleep position. You may need extra pillows.

What should I be concerned about?

In week 39 of pregnancy baby development, watch out for:

  • Losing the mucus plug. When an expectant mother loses the mucus plug, it will appear as a clear, pinkish, slightly bloody discharge from the vagina. Not all expectant moms will notice the discharge, but it is a sign that labor is near. The plug covers the cervix at pregnancy so bacteria cannot enter the uterus.

A detached mucus plug appears as a blob on your underwear or the toilet paper you use for wiping. Anything else aside from this bloody discharge requires a health professional’s attention.

  • Water breaking. This happens when the amniotic fluid that shields the baby from injury and infection, starts to leak from a broken amniotic sac. It means labor has started. This is a sign that you should call your doctor or go to the hospital.

Inform your doctor if your amniotic fluid emits a foul smell, or if you feel feverish when the water breaks. This could be a sign of an infection called chorioamnionitis.

  • Preeclampsia. This complication of pregnancy due to high blood pressure can result in serious — at times fatal — results for you and your baby. It may have no symptoms, or may suddenly crop up. This is why you should check your blood pressure. See a doctor if your blood pressure goes beyond 140/90 twice, at least four hours apart. Other symptoms of preeclampsia are too much protein in your urine, intense headaches, vision changes, pain in your upper abdomen, nausea or vomiting, reduced urine output and blood platelets, shortness of breath, and liver problems.
  • Contractions. You can time your contractions from early to advanced labor. At the start, they will occur five to 15 minutes apart, with each contraction taking 60 to 90 seconds. You should call the doctor when the contractions become regular and persist even when you change position.
  • Sleep problems. Your belly is growing, and you might find it hard to find a comfortable sleeping position.
  • Induced labor. This involves stimulating contractions before labor, resulting in vaginal birth. Induced labor is done when concerns about the mother and the baby’s health arise. Ask your doctor about the risks and benefits of induced labor.
  • Lochia. You will notice vaginal discharge many weeks after childbirth. At first, lochia is like menstrual flow. Then, the flow slowly decreases, and the color gets lighter.
  • Vaginal birth recovery. The vaginal area will swell for a few days. Your doctor may prescribe ice packs, then warm baths, sometimes medicine for pain.
  • Cesarean section recovery. Your incision may be painful for a few weeks. You might need pain medication. You should also avoid lifting heavy things while your wound heals.
  • Postpartum consultations. Make time for a doctor’s visit six weeks after child delivery. Your doctor will also inform you about resuming sexual contact.

Your Doctor Visits

What should I tell my doctor?

Be ready to discuss:

  • Your baby’s movements at week 39 of pregnancy baby development
  • What to do if the baby is in a breech position
  • The role of your partner and older children during childbirth
  • The scenario during the first few hours after childbirth
  • Rooming-in with the baby and breastfeeding

What tests should I know about?

Your doctor will usually recommend:

  • Group B streptococcus screening. This involves taking vaginal and rectal swabs to check for group B strep bacteria. This bacteria is the number one cause of life-threatening infections in babies. It can also lead to mental disability, reduced vision, and hearing loss. Infected moms-to-be take will be prescribed antibiotics during delivery so the baby does not catch the disease at birth.
  • Nonstress test. The doctor prescribes this test for high-risk pregnancies, such as when the expectant mother is carrying more than one fetus, has diabetes and/or hypertension. To administer the test, the health professional straps a fetal monitor around the mother’s abdomen to find out what the baby’s heart rate is as it moves. This is also used for overdue pregnancies.
  • Contraction stress test. This test for high-risk pregnancies involves a fetal monitor that measures the baby’s heart rate as a result of contractions due to oxytocin or stimulation of the nipple. Doctors use this test to see how well the baby can handle the stress of labor.
  • Biophysical profile. This test involves monitoring the fetal heart rate and fetal ultrasound to check the baby’s heart rate, breathing, movements, muscle tone, and level of amniotic fluid.

Health and Safety

What should I know about being healthy and safe while pregnant?

You can try exercises that can help you gain strength for going into labor. Try squatting exercises to stretch your pelvic area as well as wall sitting.

Practice breathing techniques, meditation, yoga, and indulge in other calming activities.

You can also plan nutritious meals to help you feed your baby better as soon as they are born.

At week 39 of pregnancy baby development, you and your infant are almost there. A little more waiting and your efforts at staying fit and healthy will bear fruit.

Hello Health Group does not offer any advice, diagnosis, or medical treatment.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Maridol Ranoa-Bismark Updated May 09, 2020
Medically reviewed by Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, M.D.