If you are in your 39th week of pregnancy, don’t worry, it’s almost over. You will be able to welcome your baby home soon enough. Try to enjoy these last moments of pregnancy, as motherhood is sure to bring its own stresses and emotions. Your baby is losing room inside of the womb and labor pains can be felt at any moment as both of you become restless and continue to prepare for childbirth. Continue going about your daily routines, but keep in mind that the baby can be born at any hour during this week.
You are probably starting to wonder what your baby looks like during your pregnancy at 39 weeks. Since your belly isn’t changing much, why not dwell on what your newborn baby might look like! Will he look like you or your partner? Perhaps your baby will take on traits of your ancestors, resembling neither of you! One thing you will notice when your baby is born is that newborns look strange! Some people might say that is being nice, but there are those of us that truly believe the sight of all newborns is simply beautiful.
All newborn babies share several common features and characteristics. They typically have big heads, short or no necks, and swollen abdomens. Most are born with a misshapen head that resembles a cone head, particularly if you were in labor for an extended period of time. Your baby’s head will have soft spots called fontanels, which are openings in the skull that allow your baby’s bones to compress during delivery. This is necessary for your baby’s head to fit through the birth canal.
When your baby is born, you may notice that his or her genitals and breasts are swollen. This is due to a higher than normal dose of female hormones transferred from you to the baby right before delivery. Fortunately, these ‘irregularities’ will disappear in the days following delivery.
Your baby’s skin may be smooth as a baby’s bottom, or you may find that your baby is born with acne or other red spots. This is perfectly normal. Some babies are born with a condition called pustular melanosis, which is little pus filled bumps on the skin.
Other babies are born with birthmarks. There are several different types of birthmarks. The more common include angel kisses and stork bites. Birthmarks may not show up immediately, but sometimes grow during the first few weeks of life. Others get smaller as your baby gets older.
Some babies are born with red and blond hair, even when both parents are dark haired. Keep in mind that regardless of your newborn’s hair color, there is a relatively good chance your baby’s hair will change colors once or twice as they are growing. It isn’t uncommon for a baby born blond to turn into a brunette.
Fortunately, your baby’s skin will start to clear up in a few weeks. You probably won’t have to worry about acne or pimples again until the teenage years!
Changes In Your Body
During pregnancy week 39 you are likely more anxious than ever to meet your newborn baby. As well you should be! You may have the chance to meet your baby any day now. Your belly will not change much from now until delivery, so you will need something else to dwell on.
If you haven’t decided on names yet for your baby, now may be a good time. Some parents select a couple of different names, especially if they aren’t sure about the sex of their baby. You may be surprised to find you select one name, but then decide on another after seeing your baby for the first time.
When your newborn baby does arrive, keep in mind he or she may look a bit unusual. There are certain characteristics or features common to newborn babies. Most newborn babies for example, are born with large heads and little necks. Many also have bloated bellies. If you labored and pushed for many hours, you’ll notice your baby is also born with a distinct cone head. This is perfectly normal.
Your baby’s skull may appear misshapen at birth, but rest assured it will revert to a normal shape within a few weeks after delivery. The soft spots located on your baby’s head, the fontanels, allow your baby’s bones to compress during delivery so your baby can fit through the birth canal.
Some babies, even male babies are born with slightly swollen breasts and genitals. This is usually a side effect of the hormones raging through your system right before delivery. Don’t worry, this side effect won’t last long either.
Some parents are surprised to find their baby is born with acne. Our second daughter was born with bright red acne across her entire face. This may also happen because of exposure to your pregnancy hormones, and usually fades within a few weeks after delivery. Still other babies are born with birthmarks. Our first daughter Hannah was born with a bright red strawberry birthmark right on her bottom. It’s still there today, though not as bright. It may sound awful, but I made a point to take a few pictures of her bare bottom when a baby to remind her of all the things we adored about her when she was born (even if she doesn’t find it so endearing).
Week 39 Pregnancy Symptoms
More Frequent Braxton Hicks Contractions
If you’ve been experiencing these practice contractions, they may be getting stronger now. But if you haven’t had a contraction yet, don’t worry. Braxton Hicks contractions are more common in second (and subsequent) pregnancies.
Slowdown In Fetal Activity
As her living quarters become more cramped, you may notice a slowdown in fetal movement. Your baby’s coordination has improved and he’s less likely to make involuntary jabs (even if he had the room).
Heartburn Or Indigestion
Your heartburn may be at its peak now. Don’t worry, relief is around the corner when you deliver. For relief now, drink liquids before or after meals instead of during.
Bloody Show Or Loss of Mucous Plug
The discharge from your vagina might be tinged with blood (either pinkish or brownish) as the blood vessels in the cervix rupture. Don’t worry – it’s a sign that your cervix is dilating, or opening up, and that’s a good thing. Another event that may occur this week: The mucous plug may fall out (and into the toilet). Losing it isn’t a sign that childbirth is hours away, but it does mean it’s around the corner.
Rupture Of Membranes (possibly)
Another sign that labor may be near – if your amniotic sac breaks and gushes out fluid. But don’t worry about causing a flood while you’re standing in the grocery checkout line. Despite what you’ve seen in movies, most women are in labor (and in the hospital) by the time their water breaks. If yours does break, call your practitioner.
Diarrhea Or Nausea
As your body gets ready for childbirth, the muscles may loosen in your rectum, resulting in loose bowel movements. You may also suffer some nausea. It’s important to keep drinking water to avoid dehydration.
If you’re experiencing diarrhea, your hemorrhoids may actually be less painful now since you’re not straining to move your bowels the way you did when you were constipated. Just be aware that pushing during labor can aggravate hemorrhoids, so stock up on all the soothers that brought you relief.
Pelvic Pressure And Discomfort
Your baby’s head is putting pressure on your pelvis, making you feel uncomfortable. Other symptoms of discomfort could include menstrual-like cramps and indigestion, which can also be signs of early contractions.
Your backaches could be worse now as you count down the final weeks. You can soothe a sore back by getting into the shower and letting the warm water pulse onto your back.
Some women will require forceps or vacuum delivery. You might have thought about this by 39 weeks pregnant. While relatively uncommon sometimes a little assistance is needed to help the baby during labor and delivery.
Forceps are an instrument that resemble a pair of tongs. They are sometimes used if the baby isn’t moving into the vaginal canal. This may happen for a number of reasons, but typically occurs if the uterus isn’t contracting well enough to expel the baby. Forceps are sometimes also introduced if the baby has to be delivered quickly because it is in distress.
If you doctor needs to use forceps, he will likely numb your vaginal area and may perform an episiotomy. The forceps are placed on the sides of your baby’s head and used to help pull the baby out. The risks of using forceps when used correctly can be relatively low, but may include bruising or swelling on your baby’s head and scalp.
In other cases, your doctor may need to use a vacuum extractor. This is a device that is shaped like a cup. It is placed on top of your baby’ head. The vacuum extractor applies a gentle suction to the top of the baby’s head to help pull your baby out of the birth canal. This can help prevent the baby’s head from being pushed back up the birth canal in between contractions. Bruising or swelling might also occur when a vacuum extractor is used.
In most instances, neither of these instruments will need to be used, but there is always a small possibility. If you have any concerns be sure to check with your doctor prior to labor and delivery. They can help explain the risks and potential need to you in greater detail.