39 Weeks Pregnant: Pulling Into The Home Stretch
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What is it like?
You could go into labor as you read this sentence. Or you might have to wait another three weeks, after which your doctor will try and induce birth or you will have a C-section. Whichever, you are in the home stretch, and are about to be a mom. Your body weight has stabilized, the baby has moved into your pelvis, and is not moving as much – the quiet before the storm.
Your baby’s growth
- Body size
This week, your baby weighs in at 6.8 lbs, although from 6-9 lbs is normal. She probably reached her final birth length last week or this week. She’s pretty cramped in your uterus so may not be moving as much.
- Head characteristics
The ear cartilage thickens, making the lobe more rigid. Her face may be swollen but it will shrink back to normal after the birth.
- Body appearance
Her finger and toenails might be longer than the fingertips, and may need cutting when born. As she sheds the lanugo and the vernix, she will deposit the amniotic fluid, which she will shallow and will be part of the first bowel movement, waste called meconium.
- Internal organs
Your baby’s lungs continue to secrete surfactant, although they are ready for first real breath of air. If you have a boy, his testicles should be descended into the scrotum. The placenta continues to provide antibodies to prevent infection.
What happens inside your body?
If the baby drops, you may find that your breathing and heartburn eases. Feels good doesn’t it? You may find you have spurts of energy and feel the need to clean the house, or assemble the crib. These behaviors are completely normal and are called nesting. Your Braxton-Hicks will likely continue to intensify this week, until the actual birth.
- Balance issues
As your baby descents into your cervix area, called “dropping”, your center of gravity changes, which may leave you slightly off balance. Be careful on those stairs!
How different will you look?
Your appearance won’t change much from now until the birth. Your weight gain has probably stopped or at least slowed, or you may even lose a pound or two. Many women find that they have bouts of insomnia just before the actual birth with the extra energy and all that you have on your mind. A sleepless night at this point won’t make much difference, so enjoy the extra time to read, listen to music, watch TV or whatever else you like to do at the midnight hour.
Tips for fathers – Breast-feeding support
Breast-feeding may seem like a mother only zone. Actually, your partner’s success at breast-feeding and whether she sticks with it depends largely on your support. While some women seem to pick it up instinctually, others have too little or too much milk, sore or swollen nipples, difficulty latching (securing the baby to the breast), or other problems. That’s where you come in. You can help by being knowledgeable and encouraging. Watch a couple of videos about breast-feeding on line, or go to her pre-natal class on breast-feeding or a tutorial with the lactation consultant. Breast-feeding often doesn’t come easy, but for those who stick with it, it is hugely rewarding and valuable to your baby’s health.
Tips to help you go through trimester
A newborn’s appearance can sometimes be quite unexpected. If you’re expecting a chubby, pinkish cuddly newborn, you may be surprised at the pointy-headed, scrunched up or swollen baby that comes out. Labor isn’t just hard for you, but challenging for your baby too. He’s squished for hours in the birth canal, which can elongate the baby’s head. His face might be scrunched, swollen or even bruised – all are normal and healthy. His skin might be covered with vernix, a white, waxy coating or lanugo, although both of these will disappear over the next few weeks. His eyes and hair might change color over the next few weeks too.
At the end of this week, you’ll be in the final week of pregnancy. You’ve made it through many of the pregnancy symptoms from frequent urination, gas, constipation, heartburn, edema, pregnancy mask, weight gain, and many others. Why not treat yourself to a massage? It can help with the late-term insomnia, relaxation, and leg cramps. Some find that it even helps induce labor.
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