What to Expect When You Are 39 Weeks Pregnant

You’ve almost reached the finish line! At 39 weeks pregnant, you are full term and likely eagerly awaiting the arrival of your little one. This exciting stage brings its own set of changes and preparations as your body and baby get ready for labor and delivery. Here’s a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about week 39 of pregnancy.

Key Things to Know at 39 Weeks Pregnant

  • Baby is fully developed and ready for delivery any day now
  • You may experience more pelvic pressure, contractions, and cramping as labor approaches
  • Energy levels are likely very low – rest as much as possible!
  • Monitor baby’s movements closely and contact your provider if you notice a decrease
  • Pack your hospital bag and install car seat to be prepared for when labor begins
  • Cervix is softening, thinning out, and beginning to dilate in prep for delivery
  • Your provider may begin membrane stripping to encourage labor
  • Induction around week 39 is sometimes recommended if there are medical concerns

How Big is Baby at 39 Weeks?

At 39 weeks pregnant, your baby is now fully grown and just putting on some extra body fat. Here are some key details on baby’s size and development:

  • Size: Around 19.5 to 21 inches long and 6.5 to 10 pounds, likely having gained half a pound this week
  • Baby’s organs, like lungs and brain, are developed enough to function well outside the womb
  • Lanugo hair has mostly shed off
  • Vernix caseosa (the coating protecting baby’s skin) is almost gone
  • Head is usually engaged deep in pelvis in optimal birthing position
  • Likely has a full head of hair!

As you near your due date, your provider will track baby’s growth to make sure he or she is a healthy size for delivery. Your belly continues expanding to accommodate your little one, who is quickly running out of room!

Common Symptoms at 39 Weeks

You’re likely more than ready to meet your baby at this point! Here are some common symptoms and changes you’ll experience at 39 weeks pregnant:

More Pelvic Pressure and Pain

As your baby drops lower into your pelvis and their head presses against your cervix, you may feel significantly more pelvic pressure. This can make walking and moving around more difficult. Try supportive belts or compression socks if swelling is an issue.

Increase in Contractions and Cramping

You’ll likely notice more Braxton Hicks contractions and period-like cramps at this stage as your body prepares to deliver. Time any contractions and notify your provider if they become more frequent, intense, and regular.

Trouble Sleeping

Between pelvic discomfort, leg cramps, and frequent bathroom trips, restful sleep is tough at 39 weeks. Do your best to relax before bedtime. Sleep propped up with pillows and put your legs up to reduce swelling.

Lower Energy Levels

Carrying around all that extra pregnancy weight makes you tire more quickly. Listen to your body and take frequent breaks. Say no to unnecessary tasks and social commitments. Nap when possible to conserve energy.

Clumsiness and Forgetfulness

You may feel more clumsy and absentminded as your due date nears. This “pregnancy brain” is caused by fatigue, hormonal fluctuations, and excitement about the baby. Don’t worry – it’s only temporary! Be extra careful moving around.

Increased Discharge

Seeing extra clear, pink, or bloody discharge (known as the mucus plug) is common this week as your cervix starts dilating. Call your doctor if it’s bright red with persistent cramps. Always wear a panty liner.

Things to Do at 39 Weeks Pregnant

You’ll want to start finalizing preparations for delivery and the baby’s arrival! Here are some important tasks to focus on at 39 weeks:

Monitor Baby’s Movements

Keep track of baby’s kicks, rolls, and hiccups. Notify your provider immediately if you notice any decrease in movement. Lying on your left side and eating something sweet can prompt baby to move.

Pack Your Hospital Bag

Pack a bag for yourself and the baby. Include insurance cards, lip balm, lotions, nursing bra, maxi pads, a going home outfit for yourself and baby, phone charger, and any other comfort items. Don’t forget your partner’s bag too!

Install the Car Seat

Make sure your infant car seat is properly installed so it’s ready when you leave the hospital. Review the instructions and your vehicle manual. You may be able to get help installing from a local fire department.

Childproof Your Home

Scan your home for any hazards and store cleaning supplies, medications, and other toxic substances up high or in locked cabinets. Use safety gates, outlet covers, and edge bumpers to make the nursery and living space safe.

Prep Older Siblings

If this is not your first baby, spend time getting older siblings ready for the new arrival! Talk about what life will be like, read stories on becoming a big brother/sister, and do special activities together.

Tour Your Birth Facility

If you didn’t do so earlier, call your chosen birthing center or hospital maternity ward to arrange a visit. Meeting staff and seeing the location can ease anxiety about delivery day. Ask any questions.

Work on Inducing Labor Naturally

Consult your provider about safe ways to naturally induce labor, like nipple stimulation, acupuncture, sex, brisk walking, birthing balls, and eating spicy food. Do not try any risky or unproven methods on your own.

Get Plenty of Rest

You’ll need all the rest you can get before baby comes – take it very easy and put your feet up often. Try relaxing activities like prenatal yoga, meditation, or massage. Don’t push yourself to overexert. Ask for help around the house.

Pamper Yourself

Treat yourself to a mani-pedi, haircut, waxing, massage, or other pampering – you deserve it after nine long months! This is a nice way to relax and distract yourself from impatience.

39 Weeks Pregnant FAQs

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about what to expect at 39 weeks pregnant:

What if I’m still working at 39 weeks?

Listen to your body’s limits. Don’t overexert yourself and take breaks as needed. Stay hydrated and avoid skipping meals. If your job requires lots of physical activity, talk to your provider about taking leave or limiting duties.

How much weight should I gain at 39 weeks?

It varies, but aim for 1-2 pounds per week. Some women stop gaining weight at this point. Quick increases could mean excess fluids, so ask your provider about monitoring swelling.

What if I’m not dilating at 39 weeks?

It’s completely normal! Some women don’t dilate much until they are in active labor. Dilation happens gradually and can’t predict exactly when you’ll deliver. Don’t get discouraged.

When will labor start after losing mucus plug?

It varies greatly – anywhere from hours to weeks after the mucus plug passes. Losing it simply signals your cervix is starting to open up in preparation. But it doesn’t guarantee labor is imminent.

Should I schedule induction at 39 weeks?

Unless medically recommended, it’s best to wait until at least 40-41 weeks for spontaneous labor, since induction increases risk for interventions or complications. However, discuss options with your provider.

When to Call Your Doctor at 39 Weeks

Contact your healthcare provider right away if you experience any concerning symptoms, such as:

  • Contractions that don’t fade after hydrating and are under 5 minutes apart
  • Severe or persistent abdominal pain
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding (more than spotting)
  • Regular cramping paired with bloody discharge
  • Leaking fluid from the vagina
  • Signs of preeclampsia like headache or vision changes
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Flu symptoms like fever or vomiting

Otherwise, you’ll continue having your regular prenatal checkups this week. Your doctor will monitor you and baby closely for any issues. Don’t hesitate to call the office with any questions or concerns.

Getting Ready to Meet Your Baby

You’re oh-so-close to the big day! Avoid feeling impatient by focusing on final preparations. Make sure your hospital bag is packed, car seat is ready, and your family is prepared to offer extra help after the baby arrives. With your provider’s guidance, you can start trying natural ways to encourage labor. But ultimately, your baby will come when they (and your body) are fully ready!

Before you know it, you’ll be holding your precious bundle of joy. Stay positive and try to cherish these final days of pregnancy. Best of luck as you eagerly await your little one’s arrival!