Pregnancy Week 39
Growing impatient or eager? At 39 weeks, every little twinge in your body must be bothering you. Any pain or any movement seems like triggering labor contractions or labor pains. Well, if you have successfully passed the last 38 weeks, you will handle further also. Just believe that your baby knows what will be the right time for him to come out. He will decide his BIRTHDAY on his own.
Till then, just be happy and enjoy your last weeks for pregnancy, dream about your baby and finish up any preparations to welcome your baby.
Growth and Development of Baby
As you are waiting to get some signals, your baby is doing the same now. Your baby, who weighs around 3 kg and measures about 50 cm is all set to make her big debut. However, some babies tend to stay in womb for one or two additional weeks past their due-date.
The greasy, white coating called vernix casesoa has been shed by now. The shed parts are mixed with amniotic fluid which turns from clear to milky white in appearance. There is thick hair on baby’s head and his fingernails extend beyond his fingers. The baby’s skull bones are not fused until birth to allow easy passage from the birth canal. This causes skull bones to overlap each other. It is because of this reason that head appears cone-shaped just after the baby’s birth.
You must have heard that babies cry a lot after birth but one astonishing fact is that they do not show tears in their tiny eyes as their tiny ducts are not working until now. It will take around one month to get them functional.
Your once pink baby now appears white due to the thick layer of fat tissues under his skin. Though, you will not gain any weight from now, but your baby continues to deposit fat under his skin as the baby’s temperature control in brain is still immature so he uses fat layers for temperature regulation. This weight gain will continue till last date of pregnancy. Now, the baby is quite big and does need much space for the movements in the uterus. The organs which are still maturing are lungs and will continue doing that till birth. They will be fully functional only after birth when the baby breathes first time. However, breathing practice and surfactant production is still on.
The brain of the baby is also maturing and establishing nervous connections which will continue throughout his early childhood.
It may be possible that your baby do not give any signals even after his due date. However, you need not be concerned as some babies have a habit of arriving late than their due date.
Till than you just enjoy the time by reading books or listening to some music as your baby can also hear that. You may also involve your partner in all these fun activities so that he can establish a bond with the baby.
The labor starts on its own. Doctors can only predict the probable signs to tell you how far you are from delivery. However, the exact reasons are not still clear. The theory says that it is due to the pregnancy hormone, oxytocin, which increases around the due date. This hormone causes dilation of cervix and starts contractions of true labor.
Sometimes, for some reasons, doctors have to induce labor if women do not feel any signs of labor near their due date. Let us see in what condition doctors chose for inducing labor:
- Doctors always keep a watch on baby’s growth and development. If they suspect anything which may cause harm to the baby like placenta not working, high blood pressure, they may recommend induce labor.
- Another reason for this is the mother’s health. For example, if a mother has gestational diabetes, it becomes necessary for doctors to induce labor.
- One more condition for early delivery is preeclampsia which is found in around 10 % of pregnancies. The risk included in this is that hypertension may cause seizures and other neurologic complications.
These are the conditions in which doctor recommends early labor or induced labor owing to the mother’s or baby’s health. However, sometimes, pregnant women themselves ask for inducing labor or for early C-section. Again, there can be reasons behind that but you must know that inducing early labor can cause problem for you and your baby. These problems can be:
- There are strong and more frequent contractions.
- Possible infections.
- Uterine rupture during labor, though this condition is quite rare.
- Sometimes, medicines for inducing labor may not work and in that case, doctors perform C-section.
Changes in Mother’s Body
With this week, you have entered in the full term delivery. Now, you can expect your baby anytime. Be sensitive to your body signals and watch body signals which may be inducing labor.
Some signs you should look for:
- Braxton Hicks contractions: By now, your so called false contractions or Braxton hicks contractions may be quite mild and for little time. However, now they will become more frequent and strong. This way they are preparing you for the true labor. Many women do not feel these contractions in their first pregnancy as they are more common in second one.
- Slowdown in fetal activity: As the baby’s home has become cramped, you may notice a slowdown in the activities. Now, you can actually know when your baby will move as he shows coordinated movements. He is less likely to make involuntary jabs.
- Bloody show: You may notice your vaginal discharge tinged with blood which may appear pinkish or brownish. This indicates that your cervix blood vessels are rupturing as it is dilating or opening. This is a good sign as it shows that you are going into labor.
- Mucus plug: The mucous plug which was covering the cervix to protect baby from infections may fall out. This is an indication that you have entered in the labor and it is just few hours away.
- Water breaking: There can be sudden rush of fluid due to the breakage of the amniotic sac which causes amniotic fluid to flow out. Most of the time waters break when mother has already reached to the hospital. However, if you notice that in middle of something, call your practitioner.
There are no specific physical changes occurring in your body this week apart from any signs of labor but emotionally you must be feeling little on edge. You tend to be in holding pattern just waiting for some signs. You are not planning any outings and not going too far from your home. You will mostly plan everything along with your partner as you feel protected with him. This is quite obvious for women in this week.
By now, your baby must have definitely moved head down in your pelvis. However, even after getting in head down position, a baby can lie in six different positions. These positions depend on the position of her back and Occiput. These positions are listed below as:
- LOT (Left Occiput Transverse): In this back and occiput are on the left side of the uterus at right angles to spine. This is the most favorable condition.
- LOA (Left Occiput Anterior): The back and occiput are still on the left but closer to the front of the uterus.
- LOP (Left Occiput Posterior): The back and occiput lies at the left but towards the spine.
- ROT (Right Occiput Transverse): The back and occiput are at right angles to the spine to the right side of the uterus.
- ROA (Right Occiput Anterior): The back and occiput are on the right side and front of the uterus.
- ROP (Right Occiput Posterior): The back and occiput are on the right hand side of uterus but towards the spine.
Some Important Tips to Consider
- As an activity to relax and feel good, you may try swimming and experience the weightlessness. Especially, in summers, this is the best way to reduce your core temperature.
- Spend time in good activities like reading books, watching movies, hanging around with friends or do anything you like which you always wanted to but could not find time due to office and other errands.
- Be regular with your antenatal appointments. It may be possible that you feel sad about ending these visits as in these 9 months; you must have established a close relationship with your doctor.
- Keep your car in good condition with sufficient fuel to rush to the hospital anytime of the day.
- Your body is working overtime as supporting a full grown baby needs lots of energy. So, make sure that you take enough rest though sleep is a big issue at this time, taking short naps can be helpful.
- Brush up all your newborn basics by revising your antenatal classes’ notes, watching videos or getting information from family or friends. This will be really helpful when you will be having your baby in hand.
- Relax and practice deep and slow breathing as this you would badly need during delivery.
- Keep your hospital bag ready with all the essentials like dressing gown, slippers, nursing bras, front opening gowns, wash-bag, sleep-suits and nappies for baby, sanitary towels, panties, etc.
Impatience and discomfort of the last weeks is the ways to prepare you for the tough delivery hours. Just feel all the varied emotions you are going through as this time would not come back (of course not before your next pregnancy). You will definitely remember this time in future and would cherish it.