Week 39 pregnant
It’s all systems go from now on. Your baby is virtually ready for independent life and is preparing for birth. If you are going to have a booked caesarian section delivery, this will often be the week in which it is planned.
Still pregnant? If this is your first baby the chances are high that you will not deliver right on your due date and are, in fact, more likely to go a little overdue. Even if you are 100% sure of your dates, this is no guarantee that you will deliver when you’ve been advised.
Try to be open-minded and confident that your baby will know when it is ready to be born. Every baby will take their own unique time to grow and be ready for life outside the womb. Although you may be feeling increasingly impatient and eager to have your baby, try not to wish this time away. At least while your baby is still in your womb, all of its needs are being catered for and your workload is not as high as it will be.
Oh, was that what I think it was?
Every little twinge is likely to make you sit up and take notice when you are 39 weeks pregnant. You’ll ask yourself if what you are feeling could possibly be contractions or early labour pains. Many women find it hard to tell if they are going into early labour and seek reassurance from their obstetrician or midwife sometime in their 39th week of pregnancy.
Don’t feel as if you are being a nuisance if you need to contact them. You will be having weekly checks by now so this will be an ideal time to have your questions answered. Make a list if your brain isn’t as retentive as you’d like it to be, or ask your partner to remind you.
Gosh, you look ready to pop!
People will be asking you now, more than ever, when the baby is due. You’ll attract all sorts of comments, often from complete strangers who can seem genuinely interested, or just plain curious about how you are doing. If you still feel like venturing out, be prepared for some curiosity as well as empathy from women who’ve been where you are. It’s okay to be evasive about when you are due. Not everyone needs to know precise details and repeating the same thing over and over can be very tiring.
Your physical changes this week
As well as all the other changes you’ve undergone in the last 9 months, you may have noticed you’re generally more hairy. Stray hairs may have erupted on your face, your back and even your nipples. Don’t hesitate in removing them if you find them off-putting. Many pregnant women maintain their usual waxing appointments with their beautician. Don’t worry – hair removal won’t hurt the baby, only you.
Your eyes may feel dry and as if they have sand in them. This is because the shape of your eyeballs has changed in response to the extra fluid circulating around your body. The tears which normally lubricate the outer surface of your eye can’t follow their usual route and slide down your cheek instead. Keep a tissue handy and some lubricating eye drops if they are really irritating you.
You may not gain weight from now on, but baby will be. Baby’s still laying down fat stores underneath the skin to assist with insulation once it is born. Young babies have immature temperature regulating mechanisms in their brains, so they need a reasonable buffer to insulate themselves and their vital organs.
Your emotional changes this week
You may feel a little on edge this week, as if you are in a holding pattern just waiting for the signal to go ahead. You won’t want to stray too far from home and will want to time your outings to not be too long and elaborate. You’ll probably work out plans with your partner that you feel cover most of the possibilities, but still, there may be doubt in your mind whether you’ve left something out.
If you haven’t had much to do with babies before, it can all seem a bit daunting. Look back over photos of yourself and your partner when you were both babies and have some fun picking out the characteristics that you’d like to see in your own baby and those you’d prefer not to. For those who’ve had children before, look at early photos of your other children and familiarise yourself with just how small a newborn can be.
Be sensitive to your body’s signals that your labour may be starting. It is unclear exactly what the catalyst for labour to start is, though one theory is that the baby releases a particular kind of protein, which starts a chain of labouring events in its mother.
Your baby’s changes this week
More breathing practice and surfactant production this week. If your baby were to be born now, their lungs would be mature enough to support them and they would not need medical assistance.
Your baby weighs close to 3.5 kg and is about 53 cm long this week. In terms of maturity and development, everything has been done for baby to survive independently outside of your womb.
Your baby’s brain is still laying down nerve connections, which will continue throughout early childhood. Try to read, play some music and sing to baby while it’s still in the womb. Encourage your partner to become involved in these fun early-bonding opportunities. Your baby won’t think you’re being silly and will only be more clever and smart as a result of this early stimulation.
Hints for the week
Head for the closest pool now, especially if it’s summer. You’ll enjoy the feeling of weightlessness as the water supports your entire body. Don’t worry about how you look, no one else cares, so why should you? Swimming and floating around in the water is an excellent way to reduce your core temperature, so strip off and get wet.
Read lots of books, catch up on some movies, ring some friends, and write some letters or emails. Make use of your time and enjoy the things you haven’t had time to do, especially if you’ve been working. If you’ve got older children, look for activities you can enjoy together. Get them involved in preparing things for the new baby and give them useful jobs. Think about organising a gift to each of your older children from the baby. This is an effective way of promoting good sibling relationships. Speak with them about who will mind them when you go to hospital and tell them that they will be able to visit you and the new baby. Kids that are informed feel as if they are involved in the decision-making and tend to deal with change more easily.
Look forward to your antenatal appointments and know that they are coming to an end. Many women develop a very close relationship with their midwife or obstetrician and feel sad that this is not going to continue.
Toss your partner out of bed if you feel space is at a premium. Your insomnia is not likely to have improved much and your frequent overnight trips to the toilet may be disturbing his sleep anyway. If you manage to reclaim the bed as your own, spread the pillows around so they are working for you. Some white noise in the background such as a fan or radio can be useful. Try playing a relaxation CD before you go to sleep and do some progressive muscular relaxation.
At last – it’s week 40 next.