What to Expect at 39 Weeks Pregnant

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At 39 weeks pregnant, you may encounter frequent cramping in your uterus. This can be a sign of labor or Braxton-Hicks contractions.
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Well, here you are: You made it through almost all of your pregnancy and you’ve only got a tiny bit left to go! No problem, right?
We know how hard it is waiting around for baby to be born. You are so completely done with being pregnant, and the days are crawling by.
Will you survive however many days are remaining in this pregnancy? Yup. Will it be fun? Nope. Here’s what to expect — and how to cope — during the final countdown.

What’s going on with your body at 39 weeks pregnant

What’s going on with your body at 39 weeks pregnant
This is a weird, stressful, and uncomfortable time. No one likes playing the “did I just pee myself or did my water break” game multiple times a day. Plus, you may be simultaneously terrified of meeting your baby and practically imploding with excitement over the anticipation.
It might also be getting legit hard for you to move around, what with that big ol’ heavy beach ball hanging in front of you 24/7.
If you’re waddling from room to room, having trouble getting up from the couch, or sleeping semi-inclined in your bed at night, don’t feel bad. It will all be over soon!
It’s not a terrible time to adopt a “Little Engine That Could” kind of mindset (I think I can, I think I can) because, well… you can! But also? Get some sleep. You need it.

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Symptoms at 39 weeks pregnant

Symptoms at 39 weeks pregnant
What “normal” (i.e., non-labor) symptoms can you expect at 39 weeks pregnant? Here are some of the most common:
heartburn and nausea
frequent Braxton-Hicks contractions
backaches
pubic pain
insomnia
anxiety
fatigue
loss of appetite
At the same time, your baby will be born in the nearish future. So here are some pre-labor symptoms that could mean the Big Day is coming sooner rather than later:
Cervical changes
As your body prepares itself for delivery, your cervix will start to ripen or soften. This is also called effacement. Your cervix may begin to dilate (i.e. open), too.
The pressure of your baby’s head on your cervix will help this process along. Your doctor may check for these signs at your weekly exams and let you know if you’re making any progress.
Diarrhea
Your muscles will do a lot of stretching during birth, so your body starts sending out the signal now that it’s time to relax. These signals affect your digestive muscles, too, and all that relaxation might mean what you eat moves through your intestines much faster than normal, causing diarrhea.
Loss of mucus plug
To keep your uterus safe during pregnancy, your cervix creates this thing called a mucus plug that prevents germs and bacteria from getting in. As your body gets ready for labor, your cervix will naturally expel this plug along with some vaginal blood.
It may simply fall out into the toilet, or it may discharge into your underwear over the course of a few hours or days. You might not even notice, but if you do, you’ll see a clump of thick, bloody mucus (it’s also known as a “bloody show,” for what we hope are obvious reasons).
Water breaking
If you’re expecting to feel a huge gush of fluid when your water breaks — like your vagina just popped a water balloon — know this: It may feel exactly like that, or it could feel like a slow trickle (in other words, the total opposite sensation).
Confusing? Yes. But here’s what you need to know: If the fluid is clear, there’s a lot of it, it soaks through your underwear, or keeps on coming out even after you’ve lied down, it’s probably amniotic fluid, not urine or discharge. Call your doctor.

Tips for dealing with the wait at 39 weeks pregnant

Tips for dealing with the wait at 39 weeks pregnant
Your mental health as you anxiously anticipate labor and delivery is one thing, but dealing with the physical stress at 39 weeks is a whole other ballgame. You’re not eating, walking, sleeping, or even pooping well at this point… how can you cope?
Take naps
Long stretches of uninterrupted sleep may not be possible at this point thanks to aches and pains, but if you can squeeze some short naps into your daytime hours, you can make up for some lost time.
Give yourself (pillow) props. FYI, every pillow in the house belongs to you for the foreseeable future, so grab what you need to feel comfortable. Keep your back, legs, and feet supported. Sleep at an incline if it makes breathing a little easier.
Eat small meals
Your digestive system is ultra-squished right now, which means you probably can’t stomach large meals. If you need to snack all day long instead of chowing down at meal times, that’s fine. Also? Pump the breaks on the spicy foods to avoid worsening third trimester heartburn and nausea.
Stay hydrated
Not drinking enough fluids can make you feel less energized, more light-headed, and can even mess with your bowel movements.
Change positions slowly
Yes, you will feel like a 90-year-old, but don’t make any sudden movements. Roll onto your side and then sit up before getting out of bed; stretch your legs out a little if you’ve been chilling on the couch for a while. There’s also no shame in asking your partner for a hand at this point if that’s an option… they owe you one, anyway.
Tap your favorite stress-relieving strategies
Aromatherapy, prenatal yoga, dark chocolate, Netflix. It doesn’t matter what your ultimate chill-out playlist involves, just do it. Now’s the time to rest up — you have our full permission.

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Current Version
Oct 21, 2021
Written By
Sarah Bradley
Edited By
Julia Stevenson
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Sep 23, 2020
Written By
Sarah Bradley
Edited By
Jessica Jondle
Medically Reviewed By
Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH
Copy Edited By
Megan McMorris
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Should you worry if you have no signs of labor yet?

Should you worry if you have no signs of labor yet?
No!
You probably don’t want to hear this, but unless you have a medical condition or are at risk for complications, your provider likely won’t stress about you going into your 40th or even 41st week of pregnancy without giving birth. (Usually by 42 weeks, though, they’ll want to get the ball rolling with some interventions.)
If you’re not seeing any signs of labor at 39 weeks, it may mean you have some time left in this pregnancy.
On the other hand, not all babies give you a nice, long warning that they’re getting ready to make their grand entrance. Sometimes, you wake up to zero labor signs in the morning and end up holding a baby that afternoon. Newborns are nothing if not unpredictable.

What’s going on with baby at 39 weeks pregnant

What’s going on with baby at 39 weeks pregnant
Your baby is full-term, so they look like a newborn! They have all their cute little fingers and toes, can see and hear things around them, may (or may not!) have a head of hair, and are working on building up body fat.
Technically, their lungs and brain are still developing, but that growth actually continues into the early newborn days. Those organs are functional enough to do what they need to when your baby is born.
Your baby should also be in prime birthing position at this point, with their head down and engaged in your pelvis. Most babies face toward the back, but some present “sunny side up,” or front-facing, at birth. This is OK for baby in terms of delivery safety, but unfortunately can make labor more painful for you. (If you’ve ever heard of “back labor,” this position is what it refers to.)
Newborns vary in weight and length. The average baby is about 7 to 8 pounds and 18 to 20 inches at birth. The longer baby stays in there, the more they’ll grow — but if your baby were born today, the odds are good that they would be totally healthy!

Checklist for 39 weeks pregnant

Checklist for 39 weeks pregnant
Keep doing kick counts. Even though your baby’s movements have changed as they’ve grown bigger, they should still be very active. You may notice a small decrease in activity right before giving birth, but your baby should never stop moving. If you’re worried about your kick counts, give your doctor a call.
Keep taking your prenatal vitamins. Most doctors recommend that you continue with prenatals while breastfeeding, so don’t stop just because you’ve reached the home stretch of your pregnancy.
Sleep. ‘Nuff said.
Move your body. You may not be able to do much physical activity right now, but you’ll feel better (less achy and more flexible) if you don’t spend all day parked on the couch. Go for a slow walk around your neighborhood, do some simple stretches on the living room rug, or put on a favorite playlist and bump it out while you cook dinner.
Open the door for labor. Honestly, there’s not much evidence that the old wives’ tales about eating spicy food or having sex to speed up labor actually work; for the most part, your baby will come when they’re ready (or when they’re forced out via induction or cesarean). But a few tricks — like taking walks and doing fetal positioning exercises — can at least help to prep your body (especially your pelvic area) for the hard work of giving birth.

The bottom line

The bottom line
At 39 weeks, you kind of have to be prepared for anything. It could be 2 weeks or 2 hours until you go into labor, so make sure you’re mentally ready to a) ride out this pregnancy for a while longer and b) head to the hospital at a moment’s notice.
In the meantime, take care of yourself: Sleep as best you can, rest your body as much as possible, and think happy thoughts. You can do it, little engine!

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