In this article
By the 39th week, the unborn baby is not as close to the rib cage unlike before, since he has probably dropped in the pelvic region. This process called lightening, engagement or disambiguation indicates that labor and delivery can occur for the coming days now.
The mother in week 39
By week 39, a mother – to – be will probably feel impatient with the pain and discomfort caused by the symptoms. Pregnancy symptoms are believed to be nature’s way of gearing up a woman mentally and physically prepared for labor and delivery.
Week 39 symptoms
Lightning crotch refers to the sharp shooting pain which radiates from the vagina and down the legs. This is so because the unborn baby, who has recently descended in the pelvic cavity, presses its nerves.
Braxton – Hicks contractionsPregnancy week by week
Braxton – Hicks contractions are irregular and painless tightening sensation that begins at the top of the uterine muscles and spreads downward. They usually last for about 15 – 30 seconds (sometimes it lasts as long as 2 minutes).
These practice contractions causes the abdomen to feel very hard and as the estimated due date approaches, these contractions will become more frequent and intense. Though, they should subside when she changes position.
Braxton – Hicks contractions happens when the pregnancy hormones are sending signals to the body to begin the process of childbirth.
Bloody show refers to the string of pink or brownish phlegm – like mucous discharge. This happens when the cervical blood vessels are rupturing as it begins to dilate and efface. It serves as a definite signal that labor can happen within the next several hours.
Losing the mucous plug
A pregnant woman loses her mucous plug when the cervix begins to soften. The mucous plug is the gelatinous substance which serves as a cork that seals the opening of the uterus.
Discharging the mucous plug varies from woman to woman. Some discharges the pieces of the plug (which resembles a thick and white substance, tinged with blood sometimes) weeks before labor begins, while some lose the plug with one discharge.
Pregnancy – induced diarrhea
As the body gears up for childbirth, the muscles in the rectal wall loosen up due to the presence of progesterone. In addition to that, here are the other causes of pregnancy – induced diarrhea:
- Increased appetite
- Pre – natal vitamins (for some)
- Excessive water intake
Pelvic discomfort is felt as the unborn baby burrows deeper into the pelvic cavity. The pain ranges from a few cramps, feeling of intense stress in the region, or even the excruciating sensation around the back and spreads down the lower abdomen.
Did you know that about 80% of all pregnancies experience pelvic discomfort during the remaining weeks of gestation? It is because the strain on the said region is intense especially when lightening has occurred.
Did you know that only 15% experience water breaking right before labor begins? Water breaking refers to the rupturing of the amniotic sac with its fluid gushing out to the vagina. This process occurs when the brain signals the fetus that he is ready to be born.
If the fluid appears yellowish and smells like ammonia, there is nothing to worry about since it is probably urine.
Water breakage varies from woman to woman; seek medical attention right away if she experiences the following scenarios:
- If the fluid appears greenish or brownish in color, the unborn baby had his 1st bowel movement in – utero (meconium)
- If water breakage happens in the 37 weeks or less
- Cord prolapse – is a rare condition where only 1% of pregnancies experience. Cord prolapse is when the umbilical cord comes out of the uterus with or before the baby
Hemorrhoids may actually be less painful around week 39 since the mother – to – be is not straining to move the bowels. Hemorrhoids refer to the varicose veins in the rectal wall that can be itchy and painful.
Back ache is intense by week 39 since the baby has probably reached its newborn size and length.
False labor refers to the pain that begins in the frontal part of her body and eases up when she alters positions.
Real labor is when the top of the uterus frequently aches.
Nesting instincts are spurts of energy which urges a mother – to – be to clean the house and organize the stuff needed during the baby’s arrival.
Fetal development in week 39
By week 39, the fetus has reached full – term. In fact, researchers have theorized that babies are ready to be born when they send a chemical signal of androgens to the placenta which increases the production of estrogen and leads to child labor.
Furthermore, here are the following fetal developments which take place during this week:
- For some cases, the baby – in – waiting has descended in the pelvic cavity; also, only about 3% of all deliveries are positioned improperly. Thus, the mother – to – be is slated to deliver via a cesarean section if the external cephalic version procedure is not successful, or if the baby was unable to position himself properly before the last few days of labor.
- The average fetus stretches for about 18.9 – 20.9 inches and tips the scales roughly at 6.2 – 9.2 pounds (about 3 pounds of it is contributed by his head). Those measurements won’t change from week 39 onwards, though he continues to gain weight despite of having some less room inside the uterus.
- The fetal brain development is growing and maturing at a rapid pace (a pace that will continue for the first three years of his life); neural connections continue to add up. As a matter of fact, his brain is already 30% bigger than it was 4 weeks ago. In line with this, his skills and tricks expand almost daily.
- His skull bones are pliable and not fused which allows them to overlap as he pass through the birth canal easily which in turn, gives an easier and smoother labor. This is the reason why a newborn’s head appears cone – shaped.
- Lungs continue to produce surfactant – a fat and protein mixed substances that prevent the air sacs from adhering to one another when he takes his first breath.
- Skin complexion has changed from pink to white no matter how dark – skinned his parents are (his real skin pigmentation will reveal itself after birth). This is so because a thicker layer of fat has been distributed over the blood vessels, which makes up the baby’s chubby cheeks and overall physique.
- The outermost layer of the fetus’ skin is sloughing off as the new skin forms underneath.
- Vernix caseosa, the white and greasy coating that protects his delicate skin continues to shed. This in turn, makes the amniotic fluid pale and milky.
- Tiny breast buds (which will soon transform into nipples) sprout on both girls and boys during this week.
- The unborn baby is probably sporting a full head of thick hair.
- Baby – in – waiting is able to flex his limbs now.
- His nails have probably extended past the toe and fingertips.
Types of improper fetal positions
Also of this week, the fetus should be positioned properly inside the womb. If not, an expectant woman must request a 3rd trimester ultrasound to confirm if he is positioned improperly such as the following cases:
Breech presentation is when the fetus’ bottom part faces downward.
The baby has his legs crossed, as if he is sitting in the mother’s pelvis.
The baby’s rear end faces down with his feet pulled up against his shoulders.
Footling breech is also called as a rare breech presentation. This is when one or both of the baby’s feet press the pelvic cavity.
Pregnancy tips and to do’s
39 weeks of pregnancy marks as the 2nd to the last week of the 3rd (and final) trimester. The unborn baby reaches the full – term milestone so that an expectant mom must ensure that she maintains a healthy lifestyle and does the following below:
Things to do during the 39th week of pregnancy
Birth plan is preparing for the labor and delivery issues such as:
- Issuing pain medications
- Listing people who are allowed in the delivery room
- Cord cutting
3rd trimester ultrasound
An expectant woman must undergo 3rd trimester ultrasound during this week for the following purposes:
- Confirm fetal positioning
- Gestational age
- Factors involving how and when the baby will be born
Stay well – hydrated
Staying well – hydrated is necessary during gestation. Aim to drink for at least 8 full glasses a day; water brings a lot of benefits such as:
- Lowers the occurrences of Braxton – Hicks contractions
- Heals hemorrhoids
BRAT stands for banana, rice, apple sauce, and toast. This pregnancy diet is highly recommended for years since its gentle on the digestive tract which prevents diarrhea.
Wear maxi pads
The sac could rupture around week 39 so always wear maxi pads to prevent the breakage from wetting her clothes.
What to avoid in week 39
Vices are considered as deprave practices which is harmful on both the mother and the unborn baby. That is why an expectant mother must consider avoiding the following vices below:
- Smoking cigarettes or e – cigarettes
- Chewing tobaccos
- Drinking alcoholic beverages
- Taking some sleeping pills
- Taking some herbal pills
Substances with caffeine content
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and a form of psychoactive drug (diuretic) which interrupts the sleeping cycle of both parties and triggers urination.
Aside from coffee, here are the other substances with caffeine content:
- Soft drinks
- Energy drinks
- Caffeinated snacks and candies
- Some tea
Diarrhea – trigger foods
Pregnancy – induced diarrhea likely occurs this week, to lower the instances, an expectant mom must steer clear of the following diarrhea – trigger foods:
- Dried fruits (preferably prunes)
- Fatty / greasy/ fried foods
- Milk (especially for lactose intolerant moms)
Beverages with high – sugar content
Beverages with high – sugar content draws water into the abdomen resulting to a prolonged diarrhea. If pregnancy – induced diarrhea occurs, avoid drinking the following:
- Apple juice
- Grape juice
- Regular colas