At the 39th week, your baby may be delivered any moment. In fact, chances are that the baby might be born this week. You must, therefore, be on the alert for labor so that you head to the hospital at the right time.
Baby’s growth and development in week thirty nine
By the 39th week, you only have about 1 week remaining before the estimated due date is reached. The baby is fully formed and ready for delivery any moment in the week or the next. If the baby is not born by the 42nd week and no sign of labor on sight, the doctor will induce labor or carry a C-Section.
At the 39th week, the baby’s maturity in the womb has been reached. He/she is about 7-7.5 lbs and 19-21 inches in length. However, these figures might be slightly differently depending on the baby and the mother’s body.
Appearance of the new born baby
Most babies will be born with a head that looks a little elongated or cone shaped. Besides, the head will contain fontanels or soft spots (spots in the skill that allow movement during delivery). This is critical to allow the baby move well via the birth canal.
Immediately after delivery, the baby’s genitals and breasts may be a little swollen. This is because of the elevated quantity of female hormones that move to the baby days before delivery. The swollen appearance will go away days after delivery.
Some babies are born with red spots on the skin or acne. This is a condition referred as pustular melanoses manifested through small bumps filled with pus. Other babies might be born with birthmarks such as stork bites. The acne spots will soon go away while birthmarks might become permanent.
The baby’s hair might be completely different from what he/she will have later in life. Even if the parents have dark hair, the baby might be born with blond hair. However, the chances are that the hair will be shed once or even twice when the baby is growing up.
Changes to expect in Mom’s body during week 39
The Braxton Hicks Contractions that started several weeks away are becoming more regular and stronger. The key thing here is ensuring to time the contractions and note when they become frequent and stronger. True labor contractions are usually frequent (about every 2 minutes), last longer, and keep growing stronger.
Pelvic pressure keeps intensifying at the 39th week as the body prepares for labor and delivery. As the baby head shifts to the pelvic, you will get extra discomfort. Just relax and get encouraged because the baby will be arriving very soon. With the vagina continuing to dilate, you might experience more vaginal discharge tinged with pink, brown, or red blood.
A few days before you get into labor, you might experience nausea, vomiting, indigestion and even diarrhea. You will also get the need to keep rushing to the bathroom regularly because of the pressure exerted on the bladder.
How do you know when labor is beginning?
To know that you are getting into labor, be on the lookout for the following signs;
- Higher level of vaginal fluid that is thicker with mucus and blood stains. This is often referred as mucus plug and bloody show.
- Lower back pain/ belly cramp.
- Water breaks. Water break means the rupturing of the amniotic fluid and water tickling or rushing out through the vagina.
- The contractions commence. The uterus muscles tighten and the belly feels very hard in preparation to push the baby via the birth canal. If you are at home, you must notify the doctor or midwife and head to the hospital immediately.
Once you get to the hospital, the doctor will check the level of cervix dilation to determine how long your baby is before being born. If contractions are regular, strong, and the water has broken, it will be only hours before the baby arrives.
Fetal heart monitoring
During labor, doctors want to know the baby’s heart rate to avoid stress. As contractions commence, blood flowing via the umbilical cord is restricted. While this is natural and many babies do not have a problem because it is only a short moment before delivery, it can cause distress to some fetus.
To monitor the baby’s heart rate, a belt with a sensor is tied on the abdomen to sense and record the heart rate. This operates in the same way that an ultrasound works by recording and giving immediate feedback. Another method is using an internal monitor. A small sensor is inserted into the baby’s scalp through the vagina to record the heart rate. For this method to be used, the vagina must have dilated to at least 1 centimeter.
The Apgar Test
Because you have hit the 39th week, it is prudent to learn and understand all that takes place during labor, delivery, and how to take care of the baby and yourself after birth. It is, therefore, important to get familiar with Apgar Test.
Apgar test was developed by Dr. Virginia Apgar in 1950s and will help you appraise how healthy the baby is after delivery and to tell when medical attention is needed. The baby will be tested for APGAR (Activity, Pulse, Grimace, Appearance, and Respiration) at the first minute of birth and about the five minutes later.
How does APGAR test works? It tests the baby’s heart rate, the maturity of lungs, muscle size and movement, the color of skin, and response to stimulus. The results can range from 0 for a diseased baby to 10 for a very healthy baby.
APGAR scores interpretation:
- Normal scores: Most healthy babies will score 8-9 points which indicate most of their systems are working well. Rarely will any baby score 10 points because the skin is usually bluish.
- Low APGAR score: If the baby scores less than 8 points at the first minute and after five minutes, he will need medical attention.
- Apgar test is no fortune teller: The test is designed to assist doctors to understand the health of the baby so that he/she can get appropriate attention. Most of the babies with problems are those born from high-risk pregnancy, C-section, and premature births. Well, by the first few minutes of delivery you will be very tired and the best thing is leaving the test to the doctors. The chances are that your baby is healthy and bouncy after a long pregnancy period.
Things to do during the 39th week
- Take a lot of rest because walking will no doubt have become very problematic because of the big baby bump and pressure on the pelvic area.
- Keep taking the right meals especially those rich in essential minerals and fibers. Remember to take it in small proportions to keep stomach problems as low as possible.
- Keep the timer with you and following the Braxton Hicks Contractions to know when true labor begins.
- The contractions might be causing a lot of discomfort and pain. What you need is comfort and support from your partner. Be as close as possible to him for the support when everything appears like it is becoming too much.
- Finalize on the names and start referring the baby with it. Though the ultrasound will have revealed the sex of the baby, have the name of both a girl and a boy just in case things turn different.
- Take time making love to your partner if the pregnancy hormones are not taking a lot of toll on you. It is believed that making love can help bring about true labor.
- Keep talking to your baby and having all the private conversations with him/her. This might be the last time you talk with him before delivery.