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Welcome to the 39th week of your pregnancy! With just one week left, you can happily say that you have almost reached the end of your pregnancy. Your anxiety levels may be extremely high right now but don’t worry too much about it - being nervous before your delivery is absolutely normal. In case your anxiety is bothering you a lot then it might be a good idea to speak to your family about it. The best form of treatment for this anxiety is reassurance that should ideally be given to you by your partner but even friends or siblings who have been through this before can be a huge support. Do not forget to visit your doctor this week, especially if you have any comorbidities like high blood pressure or diabetes mellitus. Also, you should ask your doctor for an updated recommendation regarding the mode of delivery based on your present clinical condition - vaginal delivery or C-section

Pregnant women sometimes develop certain complications at the end of pregnancy even if the gestation period so far has been free of any issues. Try to be aware of the basic problems that may arise this week and know when to contact the hospital in case the situation gets out of hand. Follow your doctor’s advice and do not overexert yourself this week with work. Try to rest as much as you can so you feel fresh on your delivery date. The ultimate goal at the end of these last two weeks is to deliver your baby safely and successfully. Ensure that you consume enough food and liquids as recommended by your dietician. 

(Read more: Pregnancy Diet Chart)

The main aim of this article is to make you aware of the numerous changes that might occur in your body this week along with how your baby will deliver this week. This article will also inform you about some of the complications that might occur this week. 

  1. Baby growth in the 39th week of pregnancy
  2. Changes that can occur in the 39th week of your pregnancy
  3. Issues that you might face this week
  4. Complications in the 39th week of pregnancy
  5. Things you should do in the 39th week of pregnancy

After the end of 39 weeks, your baby is considered to be a full-term baby. This makes the 39th week an important milestone in your pregnancy. 

Your baby is expected to be about the size of a watermelon at this stage of the pregnancy. Your baby must be weighing around 3.2 kilograms whereas, the tip to toe length of your baby will be around 50-51 cms. This is most likely the final size of your baby with only minor increments that can be observed in the final week of gestation.

The following changes in the baby’s body can be observed in the 39th week of pregnancy : 

  • Your baby receives antibodies that travel through the placenta. These antibodies protect the newborn from various infections. These antibodies will increase further after breastfeeding once the baby is born. 
  • Further development of the functional capacities of various organ systems in the body continues to take place in the 39th week of pregnancy. 
  • At this stage, your baby has an almost completely developed nervous system. This refinement allows the baby to control his or her breathing and the functioning of the heart and the digestive system. 
  • More fat is added to your baby’s body to completely fill up the loose skin that was present previously. This additional fat acts as an insulating layer to maintain your baby’s body temperature after delivery. 
  • Weight gain might stop or reduce at this stage due to lack of space inside the uterus. 
  • Your baby’s skull will remain soft even till the last day of pregnancy. This is because the head is the largest part of the baby’s body and this pliable nature of the skull makes delivery through the birth canal much easier. 
  • Meconium is formed or even sometimes passed at this stage. Meconium refers to your baby’s fecal matter. This meconium is composed of the lanugo (insulating hair coating) along with the vernix (protective layer on the skin). If your water breaks or leaks and If it is greenish in colour, this means that this leakage contains meconium. Meconium indicates fetal distress. 

The 39th week of your pregnancy may bring about some changes in your body as well. These may include the following: 

  • The size of your breasts would be at peak right now. They might further increase in size after delivery, once the production of breastmilk starts. 
  • Leakage of some amount of breast milk is considered to be normal at this stage of the pregnancy. The nature of milk would be thick and yellowish. This is called colostrum and is packed with large amounts of nutrients and antibodies for the baby. 
  • The uterus should extend from the pelvic area to the ribs at this point. 
  • Engagement is a phenomenon which involves the descent of your baby into your pelvic region. This process might occur at any point in time after the 34th week of pregnancy. It suggests that your body is preparing for delivery. Your tummy might appear to have shifted downwards and forwards. This helps in the resolution of some late pregnancy symptoms like heartburn and acid reflux.  
  • Due to your baby’s descent in the pelvis, there may be an extra amount of pressure being applied to your urinary bladder. This causes excessive urination and leakage of urine. It is temporary and should resolve itself after giving birth. If it persists, consult your doctor about this. 
  • You should know the common symptoms that are associated with the start of labour. These may include dilatation of the cervix, water breaking, diarrhoea, nausea and pregnancy contractions that are severe, persistent and spaced at regular intervals.
  • You may experience softening of your body tissues and joints, which can help in the delivery process.
  • The considerable increase in body mass makes it difficult for a pregnant woman to balance their bodies well. Therefore, if you are not doing it already, try wearing shoes with flat soles and get support bars installed in your washrooms.  

You might experience some problems even in the 39th week of pregnancy. It is a crucial week and, therefore, you should be aware of the commonly faced issues during this time. Your doctor might have even recommended some quick solutions for these symptoms. 

The following symptoms might be observed in the 39th week of pregnancy: 

  • Sciatic nerve pain: Sciatic nerve pain is a very common complaint during pregnancy. Due to the enlarged uterus, there is an excessive amount of pressure that is exerted on the sciatic nerve, resulting in discomfort or pain in the groin, lower abdominal area and lower limbs. It might even disappear altogether this week due to the descent of your baby. In case it persists, apply a warm compress to the painful region or take some safe painkillers such as paracetamol after discussing with your doctor. 
  • Round ligament pain: Lower abdominal pain in late pregnancy might occur due to round ligament pain. It can be characterized as a unilateral pain (one side of the body) or widespread pain (diffused). The nature of this pain is stabbing. If you notice that this pain is radiating or is very severe then inform your doctor as soon as possible. 
  • Varicose veins: Varicose veins usually develop early on in pregnancy but can occur even in the 39th week of pregnancy. It happens due to a large amount of pressure exerted on the inferior vena cava (blood vessel that performs the function of carrying deoxygenated blood from the peripheries to the heart). As a result, you may develop large blue clusters of veins in your vulva, anus or lower limbs. These clusters are usually painful and hard. 
  • Fatigue: Fatigue is a common issue that almost all pregnant women experience. Towards the end of the pregnancy, it is normal to feel exhausted all the time. All the stress of the pregnancy and daily duties on your body results in excessive tiredness. It is recommended that you take adequate rest and remind yourself that it is only a matter of time now. You will have all your stamina back soon after delivery.
  • Sleep problems: Sleep problems can be experienced at any point of time during the pregnancy. This may be a consequence of the discomfort you might be experiencing, including generalised pain, frequent urination or gastrointestinal issues. If you experience strange or vivid dreams then talk to your partner and family about them. If negative thoughts and feelings persist then might want to consider seeking professional help from a therapist. It is advised that all pregnant women get at least 10-12 hours of sleep in a day. If not all in one go, you can try taking a nap in the afternoon to make sure your body is getting the rest it needs. 
  • Digestive issues: Bloating, belching, acid reflux, nausea and heartburn are very common problems experienced by pregnant women. If they start to bother you too much, your doctor may prescribe some safe medication for you to take for them. 

The following complications could be seen during the 39th week of pregnancy: 

  • Stillbirth: Fetal death that occurs anytime after the 20th week of pregnancy is called a stillbirth and prior to the 20th week of pregnancy it classified a miscarriage. In case you experience vaginal bleeding, severe abdominal pain or unbearable contractions then you should contact your doctor immediately. Stillbirths can be prevented if caught early. 
  • Hypertensive diseases: A persistent blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg after the 20th week of pregnancy is termed as gestational hypertension. If urine analysis shows the presence of proteins then it is defined as preeclampsia. Preeclampsia along with seizures results in eclampsia. 
  • Subchorionic haemorrhage: The placenta might separate partially from its original site of attachment in late pregnancy. This causes a large amount of bleeding from the vagina. This condition is called a subchorionic haemorrhage.  
  • Infections: Pregnancy is a state of immunosuppression, meaning low immunity. This makes pregnant women extremely prone to developing numerous kinds of infections. Bacterial infections such as bacterial vaginosis caused by G.vaginalis or urinary tract infections caused by E.coli are the most common out of all. If exposed, patients might develop viral infections such as genital herpes or hepatitis
  • Placenta previa: Presence of a low lying placenta that covers the cervix completely or partially is termed as a placenta previa. Usually, it is identified early on in the pregnancy and should resolve on its own as the placenta migrates upwards. But, if it persists till late pregnancy, then your doctor might request more frequent ultrasound scans and may suggest a C-section instead of vaginal delivery as it might lead to a disastrous amount of bleeding.  

Now that you have reached the 39th week of your pregnancy, you must make sure you tick all the items off from the following checklist: 

  • Check in with your doctor or midwife about when to head to the hospital and the order in which to proceed once your contractions start or your water breaks. 
  • Information about the three stages of labour will help you prepare mentally for the delivery and make you feel more relaxed. 
  • Confirm the arrangements you’ve made for your children, any other dependants or even pets for when you have to go to the hospital for the delivery. 
  • Go over your list of essentials that you’ll be needing once the newborn arrives and make sure they’ve all been delivered and you have the correct quantities for them. 
  • Make sure that your delivery kit (or hospital bag) is ready for the big day. It must contain a change of clothes, your charger and all your medical records of the current pregnancy. It can also contain any other things you or your partner may need in case of a long labour.
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