Your baby is now the size of a pumpkin, measuring between nineteen (19) and twenty-one (21) inches from head to heel and weighing a little over seven (7) pounds. You are in your ninth month of pregnancy. Your pregnancy is considered full term.
During week 39 of pregnancy, your estimated due date is still a week away. But try not to worry if your due date comes and goes without the birth of your baby. Only about 5% of babies are born on their due dates. All of the internal organs and organ systems including the lungs are fully developed. The skin is pink, ruddy red, or brownish in color and smooth as a result of layers of fat under the surface. The brain and nervous system continue to fine-tune. Your baby continues to practice skills such as breathing, swallowing, sucking, and blinking that will be necessary for life outside of the womb. The lungs continue to produce surfactant in preparation for breathing. The lanugo and vernix continue to disappear.
By week 39 of pregnancy, most babies have moved into the head down position in preparation for birth by now, but try not to worry if your baby is still breech. Some stubborn babies will continue to flip flop right up until birth. A small percentage will also remain in the breech position. Although your health care provider might suggest an automatic cesarean section for a breech baby, you have the right to decline and wait until labor progresses before making the decision. A breech vaginal delivery does come with additional risks, but a vaginal birth under the supervisor of a trained professional is almost always safer than a surgical birth. Your baby may also drop into position in the pelvis during week 39 of pregnancy, which can make breathing easier for you.
As the minutes tick closer to your due date during week 39 of pregnancy, your body continues to gear up for the labor and birth of your baby. Expect to continue experiencing the same symptoms that you have been having for the past couple of weeks: Braxton Hicks contractions, enlarged breasts, leaking colostrum, stretch marks, itchy abdominal skin, PUPP, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, backaches, leg cramps, mild swelling of the feet and ankles, frequent urination, bloating, headaches, heartburn, indigestion, flatulence, constipation, loose joints, pelvic pressure and discomfort, cervical dilation or effacement, and a protruding belly button. You may also find yourself experiencing fatigue, difficulty sleeping, odd dreams, nervousness or anxiety, forgetfulness, clumsiness, and nesting behaviors. Even though you are uncomfortable, try to keep in mind that (95%) of babies are born within two weeks of their estimated due dates.
During week 39 of pregnancy, contractions that feel similar to menstrual cramps most likely mean that labor has started. You may also notice bloody show, which is mucus tinged with a tiny amount of blood, in the toilet or in your underwear, or your water might break. Contact your health care provider as soon as you think that you are in labor. Also contact your health care provider if you experience heavy bleeding or spotting or any other unusual symptoms including any signs of pre-eclampsia. The two most common symptoms of pre-eclampsia are high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Other signs of the life-threatening condition include rapid weight gain, extreme swelling of the face, severe or persistent headaches, double vision or blurred vision, sensitivity to light, temporary loss of vision, intense pain or tenderness in the upper abdomen, and vomiting.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not meant to replace the professional medical advice of your health care provider.
39 weeks pregnant: http://www.babyzone.com/pregnancy-week-by-week/39-weeks-pregnant_70925
Curtis, Glade B. & Judith Schuler. 2011. Your pregnancy week by week. 7th edn. Philadelphia: Running Press.
Stone, Joanne & Keith Eddleman, eds. 2003. The pregnancy bible: Your complete guide to pregnancy and early parenthood. Willowdale, Ontario: Firefly Books.
Your pregnancy: 39 weeks: http://www.babycenter.com/6_your-pregnancy-39-weeks_1128.bc
Your pregnancy week by week: Weeks 35-40: http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/your-pregnancy-week-by-week-weeks-35-40
Baby Bump at 39 Weeks: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sheila_39_weeks.jpg