Pregnancy week 39

All that is important now at pregnancy week 39 is to closely deal with your contractions. When they last more than 30 seconds and are five minutes apart, it is time to call your doctor. Water breaking can also be a sign of you going into labor soon.

Last Updated: 22 October 2020

Pregnancy week 39
Pregnancy week 39
What’s happening to your baby?

Big cheers to your little munchkin! She's a full-term baby now at 39 weeks pregnancy. That is, even if you have to deliver your baby tonight - a week earlier than the due date - she will be as fine as a 40-weeks baby. She is of the size of a pumpkin now. So if you are wondering what's left to happen with your baby this week, there's actually little. Apart from her lungs continuing to mature and brain continuing to expand (which anyways will keep happening post birth as well) there isn't a significant milestone with your baby's development at 39 weeks pregnancy.

What's important about your baby this week is her position inside the womb. Most likely (and what we want), she must be in the head-down position with her face facing your spine. This is what is going to make vaginal delivery possible. If your baby has her bottoms or feet down (called 'breech' position), your OB might either suggest for a manual manipulation to change her position or on the safer side, suggest a C-section.

What’s happening to your body?

Unlike your baby, there's a lot happening with you at 39 weeks. In spite of the continuing discomforts caused by frequent urination, leg cramps, heartburn, constipation or headaches, your anxiety towards labor tops the list. Every time there’s a small tightness in your uterus, you may get alerted if it a sign of labor. That is quite normal and in fact, wise to be that way now.

For most women, while Braxton Hicks contractions may begin anytime in the third trimester, real contractions usually begin at 40 or 41 weeks, if it’s the first pregnancy, and may be a week earlier for subsequent pregnancies – except in the case of premature labor which can happen before 37 weeks.

Pay close attention to what’s happening to your body at all times. Educate yourself enough so that you neither do a panic run to the hospital with a false labor nor remain ignorant of a medical attention-seeking condition – although it is alright if you are not! We understand that every pregnancy, every woman, every baby and every childbirth experience can be different!

You might want to know how to tell apart false labor from true labor. Here are the marked differences between Braxton Hicks and true labor contractions:

Braxton Hicks Contractions

Labor Contractions

Occur at irregular intervals

Occur at regular intervals (Ex., every 5 minutes)

Not usually painful

Gets painful in time

Feels like contraction and relaxation of the pelvic muscles

Feels like tightening from the top of the uterus so as to push the baby through the birth canal. During a contraction, uterus gets hardened and gets back to normal in-between two contractions

With time, the intensity of contractions fade and do not get closer

Becomes increasingly stronger and closer, like from 5 minutes apart, to 3 minutes apart, to 2 minutes apart and so on

Subsides with a change in position or after peeing

Changes in position has no effect on the contractions

 

Tips and advice for Pregnancy Week 39 What to know about a C-Section?

Although every pregnant woman would wish for a short, not-too-painful and uncomplicated childbirth experience, especially a vaginal delivery, sometimes caesarean section might become necessary. A C-section could either be pre-planned or decided on an emergency after labor begins.

Here are a few situations when C-section delivery is scheduled:

·         The baby is in breech; that is, instead of the expected head-down position, baby is in the bottoms-down or feet-down position.

·         You are carrying more than one baby, like in the case of carrying twins or triplets.

·         You previously had a uterine surgery, like a C-section for your first baby.

·         If there is a problem with the position of the placenta – in rare cases, placenta might cover the cervix (called placenta previa).

·         If you or the baby had been diagnosed with any medical complications - that might pose a risk during vaginal birth.

Below are a few reasons why emergency C-sections are done:

·         Labor contractions aren’t getting intense as expected and pain or induction medicines aren’t working on your body.

·         Baby’s heart rate becomes abnormal or any condition that signals a fetal distress.

·         Baby has already released meconium out while still in the womb. This poses a risk of baby breathing it into the lungs or choking the throat.

·         Complications that can arise out of umbilical cord issues, like wrapping the baby around in a dangerous angle or umbilical cord prolapse (blocking the birth canal before baby can pass through).

 

It is wise to keep your mind open about your birthing experience. At the end of your pregnancy, we want the mother and the baby safe. So, if because of an unexpected reason, it demands a C-section, it should be so. And with any of your birthing plan, for that matter. 

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