39th Week Pregnancy: Signs, Baby Development & Fetal Movement

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How Many Months Pregnant Are You At 39 Weeks?

At 39 weeks, you are eight months and three weeks pregnant. The baby is considered full-term now, and the next week might be your due date.

In this post, Momjunction tells about the baby’s development and physical changes that you will experience in this week and shares a few tips to stay healthy and happy.

How Big Is The Baby At 39 Weeks?

The baby is about the size of a mini watermelon (1). Babies usually measure 18 to 20 inches in length and around seven pounds in weight (2).

Baby Development At 39 weeks

The baby is fully developed by this week of pregnancy.

Body parts Development stage
Eyes (3)Still developing
Brain (4)Weighs one-third more than its weight at 35 weeks
LungsStill developing
LiverContinues to develop
SkinFat deposition continues under the skin layer to keep the fetus warm
Vernix (5)The coating over the skin is completely gone. Some might be left under the arms, chin and in the elbow creases
Digestive systemCompletely developed and contains meconium (baby’s first poo)
GenderIn boys, the testicles are completely descended into the scrotum
Umbilical cord (6)Around 20 to 24 inches long

The baby is almost grown by this week. As you are just a few days away from your due date, the baby prepares itself for labor by attaining the right position inside the womb. Here is a general overview of fetal position and movements during the 39th week.

Fetal Movements And Position At 39 Weeks

Movements: As the baby is fully grown now, there will not be sufficient space for proper movements. You may notice a reduction in the number of movements. However, if the movements reduce more than normal, check with your healthcare provider (2).

Position: The baby attains the head-down position with its face toward your spine. This is the optimal position for childbirth. If the baby attains a head-down position facing your abdomen, then it is called occiput posterior position. This position can prolong the labor and make childbirth difficult (2).

In some cases, the baby may be in a breech position, wherein it lies in a head-up and bottom-down position. Sometimes the baby may turn to the correct birthing position just before the onset of labor, but, in some cases, it may not happen and childbirth usually requires obstetric intervention.

The symptoms you experience this week are more or less the same as those you have been experiencing in the last few weeks of the third trimester.

What Symptoms Would You Experience In The 39th Week?

Here are the symptoms you may notice during this week of pregnancy (7):

  1. Braxton Hicks contractions: Cramping and tightening of the uterus are common in this week. It’s irregular and less painful and the body’s way to prepare for labor (4).
  1. Pelvic pressure: As the baby drops down into the pelvis, some amount of pressure and pain are felt in the pelvic area.
  1. Lightning crotch: The baby’s head or shoulders can put pressure on the sensitive nerve, making you feel a sharp pain in the pelvis.
  1. Vaginal discharge: Thick and mucus-like discharge from the vagina indicates cervical dilation.
  1. Trouble sleeping: All the aches and restlessness make your sleep difficult.
  1. Bloody show: You might have vaginal discharge tinged pink or brown, called a bloody show. The blood results from small ruptures of cervical blood vessels during effacement and dilation.
  1. Heartburn: The expanding uterus pushes the gastric acids upwards, towards the esophagus, causing heartburn.
  1. Frequent urination: The urge to urinate increases due to the pressure put by the uterus on the bladder.
  1. Diarrhea: Hormonal fluctuations could be a reason for diarrhea.
  1. Hemorrhoids: The pressure put by the enlarging uterus and increased blood flow towards the pelvic area cause the veins in the rectal region to swell.
  1. Backaches: The extra pressure that the baby puts on the lower back can cause a backache.
  1. Colostrum: The breast starts leaking the milk, called colostrum, the first milk that your baby will feed on.

The physical and emotional changes take a toll on you during this week, and you may be looking forward to ending this journey as soon as possible.

Changes In The Body At 39 Weeks

Physical changes

  • The belly looks bigger and lower as the baby has attained full growth by this time and will be deep in the pelvis.
  • The breasts are enlarged and the areola becomes darker.
  • The skin is sensitive and itchy. Applying a moisturizer can help relieve the itchiness to some extent (7).

Emotional changes

  • Anxiety, as you could be thinking about the imminent delivery and the well being of the baby.
  • Mood swings due to hormonal fluctuations.
  • The nesting instincts develop as you begin preparations for welcoming the new member (8).

Since you are closer to the due date, you might experience symptoms of labor. Know how to identify them.

Signs Of Labor In The 39th Week

Here are the signs of labor you must look out for during this week (7):

  • Lightening, when you feel the baby drop down into the pelvis.
  • Water breaking, with a constant water leak or a gush of fluids.
  • Painful and frequent contractions at regular intervals.
  • Discharge of a thick mucus plug from the vagina.
  • Bloody show, an increased vaginal discharge tinged pink or bloody in color.
  • Low, dull backache.
  • Cramps with or without diarrhea.

In any case of medical conditions like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, placental problems, or uterine infections, the doctor may suggest labor induction in this week.

When To Call The Doctor?

Call the healthcare provider right away if you notice any unusual symptoms like (8):

  • Bleeding, as you would during a menstrual period
  • Reduced movement of the baby
  • Slowed fetal movement for 24 hours
  • Waters break (also called rupture of membranes)
  • Regular or stronger contractions
  • Fever
  • Blurred vision
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Pain in the belly or chest
  • Sudden puffiness of hands or face
  • Sudden onset of a headache

If there have been no signs of labor, then there is no need to worry. However, make sure to closely monitor the changes in your health, and do not miss your regular doctor’s appointment for the week.

Your OB/GYN Visit

During your visit, the doctor will:

  • Check your weight and blood pressure.
  • Advise a urine test to check the sugar and protein level.
  • Measure the height of the uterus to ascertain your baby’s growth.
  • Check the fetal heart rate.
  • Perform an ultrasound to check the fetal position in the womb. In the case of twin pregnancy, the ultrasound will be done to check the well-being of the babies (9).
  • Ask questions regarding the fetal movements, C-section, labor induction, health issues, and about VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean, if it is not your first delivery).

Take care of yourself and your health.

Tips To Follow

Here’s what you can do to stay healthy and comfortable this week. 

  • Moderate exercises like walking help you stay active and energetic. Kegel exercises and squatting are great to strengthen the pelvic muscles.
  • Get enough rest.
  • The total calorie intake during the third trimester should be 450 calories/day (10).
  • Stay calm and keep stress at bay.
  • Practice breathing exercises.
  • Spend quality time with your partner, family, and friends and seek help from them.
  • Wear comfortable and loose clothes.
  • Wear flats and slippers.
  • Sleep on your side and avoid sleeping on your back.

Just as you are, your partner must also be anxious about the delivery of the child. Next, we look at how he can support you and lessen the anxiety.

[ Read: 35th Week Pregnant ]

Tips For Dad-to-be

Here are some tips for the dad-to-be to follow this week (13):

Keep all the important documents like insurance ready before your partner goes into labor.

Listen to the doctor’s instructions and act wisely as she enters labor.

Try to understand her preferences regarding delivery.

Inquire about the hospital policies and the way they address patients.

Make sure that the maternity bag has all the essential items.

Make a list of emergency contact numbers of friends and family. It can help her reach out to them in your absence.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is the 39th week safe for delivery?

Yes, the 39th week is safe for delivery. At 39 weeks, your baby is completely developed, and your doctor may advise inducing labor during this week, depending on your and your baby’s health (11).

2. Will my doctor induce me at 39 weeks, if I ask?

Induction of labor at 39 weeks depends on the number of fetuses you are carrying, your and your fetus’s health, and the term of your pregnancy. Hence, you may discuss the induction, but your doctor must examine all the above aspects before proceeding (12).

3. How can I make my cervix open faster?

The different methods of cervical ripening or dilation include (13) (14):

  • Medical ripening: Medicines such as misoprostol, vaginal inserts, and endocervical gels
  • Mechanical ripening: Use of foley catheter or fingers
  • Natural ripening: Acupuncture, castor oil, sexual intercourse, and herbal supplements

Remember to consult your Ob/Gyn about the safety of the above procedures before proceeding with it.

Your baby is fully developed during the 39th week of pregnancy, and your body prepares for delivery. Usually, the next week, that is, the 40th week, is when a normal delivery is expected. However, you may go into labor during the 39th week in some cases. During this period, you may also experience false contractions, making it difficult for you to identify the real ones. Hence, we hope that the signs of labor mentioned above will be helpful. We would also recommend staying alert for any discomforts during this period and keeping your doctor up-to-date on the labor process.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. 39 Weeks Pregnant – All You Need To Know.
    https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/pregnancy-week-by-week/39-weeks-pregnant-whats-happening
  2. 39 Weeks Pregnant.
    https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/pregnancy/week-by-week/3rd-trimester/week-39/
  3. Why At Least 39 Weeks Is Best For Your Baby?
    https://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/why-at-least-39-weeks-is-best-for-your-baby.aspx
  4. Let Baby Set The Delivery Date.
    https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2013/09/let-baby-set-delivery-date
  5. 39 Weeks Pregnant.
    https://raisingchildren.net.au/pregnancy/week-by-week/third-trimester/39-weeks
  6. Prenatal Summary.
    https://www.ehd.org/prenatal-summary.php
  7. When Does Labor Usually Start?
    https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/labor-delivery/topicinfo/start-of-labor
  8. Maternity.
    https://www.beaumont.org/conditions/pregnancy-warning-signs
  9. What Is The Optimal Gestational Age For Twin Delivery?
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1397866/
  10. Healthy Weight During Pregnancy.
    https://www.eatright.org/health/pregnancy/prenatal-wellness/healthy-weight-during-pregnancy#:~:text=Calorie%20Intake&text=The%20first%20trimester%20does%20not
  11. For Healthy Pregnancies, Inducing Labor at 39 Weeks Is Safe.
    https://www.cuimc.columbia.edu/news/healthy-pregnancies-inducing-labor-39-weeks-safe#:~:text=Babies%20are%20%E2%80%9Cdue%E2%80%9D%20after%2040
  12. Induction of labor at 39 weeks.
    https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/induction-of-labor-at-39-weeks
  13. Cervical ripening methods when induction is part of the birth plan.
    https://utswmed.org/medblog/cervical-ripening-techniques/
  14. Cervical Ripening.
    https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/22165-cervical-ripening

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Jacky Bloemraad-de Boer

Jacky Bloemraad-de Boer is a certified professional midwife, traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, doula, nutritionist and herbalist. In 2012 she began JJ Doula Training in Amsterdam and has trained more than 200 doulas. Boer has trained midwives across the globe for a three-year midwifery program that she created. She continues to teach midwifery sciences and complementary medicine for fertility, pregnancy, childbirth... more

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