Your Pregnancy Week 39

Reviewed by James Brann, MD
Learn about your symptoms and changes during the 39th week of pregnancy.

Your Baby

During 39 weeks pregnant your baby may weigh between 7 and 7.5 pounds and probably is 20 inches long!

Changes in Your Growing Baby

During labor and delivery your baby's heart rate may go through some changes. That's why your baby's heart rate is usually monitored throughout pregnancy. By 39 weeks pregnant you should understand about fetal monitoring. Fetal heart monitoring helps ensure that your baby is tolerating labor and delivery well and lets your doctor know if there are any problems.
Usually when your uterus starts contracting the flow of oxygenated blood to the placenta is slowed somewhat. This is a natural process however hence does not pose any trouble for most babies. Sometimes however babies undergo fetal distress. This may result if the umbilical cord is wrapped around your baby's neck or from some other problem in utero.

Your doctor will monitor your baby's heart rate throughout labor using internal or external fetal monitoring. If your doctor selects external monitoring a belt will be strapped to your abdomen with a receiver attached that will detect your baby's heart rate much like a Doppler ultrasound would.
An internal fetal monitor is sometimes used for a more accurate reading. To use an internal monitor a healthcare provider must place an electrode on your babies scalp. You will have to be at least partially dilated for this to occur. This form of monitoring can only be used after the membranes have ruptured.

Your Body's Development

Not much is going on. You are probably spending most of your time wondering what your newborn baby will look like after delivery. No matter what you and your partner look like, it is difficult to predict how a newborn baby will look. You may even find that your children look extraordinarily different from one to the next.

Most women will admit that their newborn looks a bit strange. It's often difficult to tell who a baby takes after until several weeks after delivery. Most newborns are born with big heads, very short necks and very large abdomens. They looks somewhat like tiny butterballs, making them all the more loveable.

Newborn babies will have a soft spot called the fontanel on the top of their head. This spot is the place where your baby's skull remains slightly open to allow your baby's head to compress during delivery. Fortunately these soft spots will gradually close and harden as your baby gets older.

Most newborns also have swollen genitals and breasts due to high levels of estrogen still circulating in their body. Still other babies are born with various birthmarks, some of which will fade and others of which will grow darker as your baby gets older.

Changes In Your Body

You are probably experiencing multiple mood swings, varying from elated to worried, tired or excited, now. Many women are quite ready for labor to start. You should keep in mind the emotional roller coaster you are experiencing will continue for a short period of time right after birth.

Immediately following delivery your hormones drop significantly. For some women this causes a bit of distress or a case of the baby blues. In fact roughly 80 percent of women will experience some form or another of the blues after birth. This is however usually very normal and should go away after a short period of time.

If you can't shake your blues however it is important you talk with your doctor. Some women develop a more serious form of the blues called postpartum depression.

If you notice after a couple of weeks that you are experiencing excessive anxiety, have long crying jags, feel depression or guilty or feel like you may harm your baby, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately. Postpartum depression can be quite serious, but fortunately there are some simple measures and treatments your doctor can prescribe to help you adjust during this time.

Video: What to Expect from the 39th Week of Pregnancy



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