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39 Weeks Pregnant

Jan 27, 2022 | 4 Minute Read

Still pregnant? If this is your first baby the chances are high you will not deliver right on your due date and in fact, are more likely to go a little overdue. Even if you are 100% sure of your dates, this is no guarantee that you will deliver when you've been advised. Try to be open-minded and confident that your baby will know when it is ready to be born. Every baby will take their own unique time to grow and be ready for extrauterine life. Although you may be feeling increasingly impatient and eager to have your baby, try not to wish this time away. At least while your baby is still in your uterus, all its needs are being taken care of and your workload is not as much as it will be after baby is born.

Oh, was that what I think it was?

Every little twinge is likely to make you sit up and take notice when you are 39 weeks pregnant. You’ll ask yourself if what you are feeling could possibly be contractions or early labor pains. Many women find it hard to tell if they are going into early labor and seek reassurance from their pregnancy care provider sometime in their 39th week of pregnancy. Don’t feel as if you are being a nuisance if you need to contact them. You will be having weekly checks by now so this will be an ideal time to have your questions answered. Make a list if your brain isn’t as retentive as you’d like it to be or ask your partner to remind you.

Gosh, you look ready to pop!

People will be asking you now, more than ever, when the baby is due. You’ll attract all sorts of comments, often from complete strangers, who can seem genuinely interested or just plain curious about how you are doing. If you still feel like venturing out, be prepared for some curiosity as well as empathy from women who've been where you are. It's okay to be evasive about when you are due. Not everyone needs to know precise details and repeating the same thing over and over can be very tiring.

Your physical changes this week

As well as all the other changes you've undergone in the last nine months, you may have noticed you're generally more hairy. Stray hairs may have erupted on your face, your back, and even your nipples. Don’t hesitate in removing them if you want to. Many pregnant women maintain their usual waxing appointments with their beautician. Having a pubic wax pre-labor is a common request for many women. Don’t worry - hair removal won’t hurt the baby, only you!

Your eyes may feel dry and as if they have sand in them. This is because the shape of your eyeballs has changed in response to the extra fluid circulating around your body. The tears which normally lubricate the outer surface of your eye can’t follow their usual route and slide down your cheek instead. Keep a tissue and some lubricating eye drops handy if they are really irritating you, but just to be on the safe side, check with a pharmacist before using any eye drops even if they are nonprescription.

You may not gain weight from now on, but the baby will be. It's still laying down fat stores underneath its skin to assist with insulation once it is born. Young babies have immature temperature regulating mechanisms in their brains, so they need a reasonable buffer to insulate themselves and their vital organs.

Your emotional changes this week

You may feel a little on edge this week, as if you are in a holding pattern just waiting for the signal to go ahead. You won’t want to stray too far from home and will want to time your outings to not be too long and elaborate. You’ll probably work out plans with your partner which you feel cover most of the possibilities, but still, there may be doubt in your mind whether you have left something out.

If you haven’t had much to do with babies before it can all seem a bit daunting. Look back over photos of yourself and your partner when you were both babies and have some fun picking out the characteristics which you’d like to see in your own baby...and those you’d prefer not to. For those who've had children before, look at early photos of your other children and familiarize yourself with just how small a newborn can be.

Be sensitive to your body's signals that your labor may be starting. It is unclear exactly what the catalyst for labor to start is, though one theory is that the baby releases a particular kind of protein which starts a chain of laboring events in its mother.

Your baby's changes this week

More breathing practice and surfactant production this week. If your baby were to be born now their lungs would be mature enough to support them and they would not need medical assistance.

Your baby weighs close to 7 pounds 11 ounces and is just over 20 inches long this week. In terms of maturity and development, your baby has done all it needs to so it can survive independently.

Your baby's brain is still laying down nervous connections which will continue throughout its early childhood. Read to your baby while it is still in the womb, play some music and sing to it. Encourage your partner to become involved in these fun early bonding opportunities. Your baby won’t think you're being silly and will only be more clever and smart as a result of this early stimulation.

Hints for the week

Head for the closest pool around now, especially if it's summer. You’ll enjoy the feeling of weightlessness as the water supports your entire body. Don’t worry about how you look, no one else cares so why should you? Swimming and floating around in the water is an excellent way to reduce your core temperature.

Read books, catch up on some movies, call some friends, and write some letters. Make use of your time and enjoy the things you haven't had time to do especially if you've been working. If you've got older children, look for activities you can enjoy together. Get them involved in preparing things for the new baby and give them useful jobs. Think about organizing a gift for each of your older children from the baby. This is an effective way of promoting good sibling relationships. Speak with them about who will look after them when you go to hospital and tell them that they will be able to visit you and the new baby. Kids who are informed feel as if they are involved in the decision making and tend to deal with change more easily.

Look forward to your prenatal appointments and know that they are coming to an end. Many women develop a very close relationship with their pregnancy care provider and feel sad that this is not going to continue.

Toss your partner out of bed if you feel space is at a premium. Your insomnia is not likely to have improved much and your frequent overnight trips to the bathroom may be disturbing their sleep anyway. If you manage to reclaim the bed as your own, spread the pillows around so they are working for you. Some white noise in the background, such as a fan or radio, can be useful. Try playing a relaxation app before you go to sleep and do some progressive muscular relaxation.

Week 40 (at last) comes next.

For more information see Pregnancy Week by Week.

The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.