In Week 39 of pregnancy, your Expected Delivery Date (EDD) is drawing near, and you will most likely be anxious day in, day out, thinking of nothing but the labor and the delivery. Baby now has all the organs and systems needed to have a good start at life, and is definitely as pumped up to meet you as you are to meet Baby – don’t you think Baby wants out right after all the kicking at the walls of your womb all this time?
If you deliver this week, you will have a term pregnancy. Let’s look at what’s characteristic of Week 39 and what it means to have a term pregnancy.
39 Weeks Pregnant: Symptoms
After the baby drops, the pressure on the bladder becomes stronger, and symptoms like frequent urination (pollakiuria) and urine incontinence might make their presence felt more strongly. As the baby is now settled in the pelvis, you might not feel as many fetal movements as before, and when you feel them, the movements might not be as strong as before. Another symptom that you are feeling more strongly than before could be the Braxton Hicks contractions.
If this is your first pregnancy, it is only inevitable that you feel uneasy and restless this week – after all, labor is an uncharted territory to you. If you take some time to note the signs of labor, it might help to take some of your stress away. The minor troubles that have been plaguing you will most likely disappear once you’re done with the labor, but rest assured. Baby will arrive pronto!
Labor: Knowing it like the back of your hand
How much the cervix opens is different for each mom, but the whole process from the start of the contractions to the labor itself can take about 10 to 12 hours for first-time moms. For moms who already have had gone through labor at least once, the whole process might be much shorter, only taking about 4 to 6 hours from the start of contractions to the labor itself.
When the interval between the contractions is about 10 to 15 minutes and becomes very regular, you should contact the hospital and seek help if necessary. The labor can be long and well, laborious. Your body has to be able to withstand the strong contractions that go on throughout the whole labor process, so take pains to strengthen your muscles and wait for Baby’s arrival!
If you wish to have a birth partner, talk to the person you have in mind about his or her coming down to the hospital to be in the delivery room with you. Let the person or people know what you need help with, and whether they can help you out. Witnessing a labor can be as stressful as going into labor, so you will need to find out if your ideal birth partner is really up to the challenge. You might also want to refresh your memory and look at your birth plan one more time.
39 Weeks Pregnant: Fitful sleep
When your pregnancy reaches term, you might find that you do not have enough sleep, and you might suffer from what they call the “pregnancy brain” – spacing out the whole day. This is because your belly becomes bigger and the accumulated fatigue is now pushing the limits of your body physically.
In addition to this, hormones that affect your sleep are secreted in increased amounts in your body and they make you sleep less soundly. In general, this will cause some insomnia. Also, fetal movement and abdominal tightness or contractions, pain in your pelvis can keep you awake all night and affect the quality of your sleep. Rest when you can, regardless of whether it is night or day, and try to keep your body warm at all times.
39 Weeks Pregnant: Sonogram of fetus in belly
In Week 39, the fetus is 6.2 to 7.5 lb (2.8 to 3.4 kg), 18.9 to 19.7 in (48 to 50cm) long, and the vernix caseosa covering the fetus’ body melts off. Your baby is ready to greet the world. During this period of time, the baby, under the influence of the female hormone estrogen, starts to swell up.
This might lead to breast swelling in both newborn boys and girls, but don’t worry! This breast swelling usually only last for two weeks after birth and will go away. The fetus’ lungs, liver, and organs also mature because of the effect of estrogen.
Also, in preparation for life outside the womb, your baby continues to accumulate fats, and body fat percentage increases to about 15%. The baby’s skull is not yet completely formed, and the 5 thin pieces of bone that constitute the skull is held together by sutures (fibrous material).
The bones will continue to harden and the sutures will eventually fuse together. The pliable bones of the skull overlap and enable the head of the fetus to fit in and pass through the pelvis more easily.
39 Weeks Pregnant: Note fetal movement!
A miscarriage even when pregnancy reaches term is possible – even though the chances are low and the possibility is about one in several thousand. A miscarriage can occur at any time and even when a pregnancy reaches term, there is no guarantee that there won’t be any problems.
Those who have experienced miscarriage would know, but during the course of this week, fetal movements can be of the same intensity and frequency, become stronger or even reduce in terms of frequency.
If the umbilical cord is a nuchal cord, the baby does not get enough nutrients and could cause the baby’s death. However, the scientific reason why nuchal cords happen isn’t known. What you can do is to be more mindful of baby’s movements, and if there are no fetal movements at all, or if you feel that something is wrong, do call your practitioner.
39 Weeks Pregnant: Watch weight gain
After your baby drops – noticed or unnoticed – the pressure is off your stomach, and there is no stress on your stomach! Hurray to being able to eat what you want and being able to eat more again! However, try not to overeat. As your body is gearing itself up to store as much fats as possible, this can easily lead to a surge in weight gain. Aim for an increase of less than a pound this week, and help your body by not taxing it too much by putting on too much weight.
Accumulation of unnecessary fats can lead to fat accumulation in the birth canal, making it smaller and resulting in a difficult delivery. So, if you already see a 1 pound difference in your weight before this week is up, you might want to walk off some of the extra calories by consciously choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator, taking a stroll when you can, or doing light exercises every day.
End of full term
It’s a whole new world for both you and your baby. You probably have waited a lifetime for this, and for the movie-worthy moment when you and baby’s eyes meet. Don’t get caught up in the excitement and forget your responsibilities! Watch your weight gain, for one. As for the insomnia, nothing much can be done – just grin and bear it!
If you need something else to do instead of counting sheep, imagine what you can say to baby, start envisioning your life as a parent, think of names if you haven’t gotten down to the perfect one name, and tick off the days on your calendar as you await the start of a whole new world and life with Baby on board.