39 Weeks Pregnant
Yay! Baby has finally reached full term! You’re probably feeling like you want to get this baby OUT. We’re not sure, but the impatience and discomfort moms-to-be feel around 39 weeks pregnant (and beyond!) might be nature’s way of getting you mentally prepared for delivery. Remember how freaked out you used to be about childbirth? Now, at week 39 of pregnancy, you don’t care what it takes, you just don’t want to be pregnant anymore!
At 39 weeks pregnant, baby is as big as a pumpkin. Your 39-week fetus measures about 20 inches long and weighs about 7.3 pounds. And baby just keeps growing, despite being so crowded inside your 39 weeks pregnant belly.
Yep, 39 weeks pregnant is nine months pregnant. Next week, you’ll wrap up this final month of pregnancy and reach your due date (that is, if you don’t go into labor this week). This is exciting!
Typical 39 weeks pregnant symptoms—the ones that aren’t signs that labor is happening now—are similar to what you’ve been experiencing the past few weeks. Most are signs that labor will happen soon, though. This includes:
- Braxton Hicks contractions. At 39 weeks pregnant, cramping or tightening of your uterus may seem pretty constant, no matter what you do. Usually these “practice” labor pains start in the front of your body and ease up when you switch positions. You'll know it's real labor when they start at the top of your uterus and become more frequent and regular.
- Pelvic pressure. While getting into position for birth, baby may be sitting so low that your lower torso feels heavy and uncomfortable.
- Lightning crotch. Because baby is so low, their movements can hit some sensitive nerves, giving you sharp sensations in your pelvis and vagina—yep, like a lightning bolt! Yowch!
- Urge to nest. Some moms-to-be say they get a surge of energy and strong desire to clean their home right before baby’s debut. Don’t go too crazy, though. You don’t want to wear yourself out before the birth.
- Mucus plug and/or bloody show. At 39 weeks pregnant, discharge that’s as thick as mucus and sometimes has a tinge of blood in it is your mucus plug. (The blood is, you guessed it, the bloody show.) And while many people consider this to be a sign you’ll go into labor soon, there’s no exact science to it, so it’s hard to say when.
What should I be feeling at 39 weeks pregnant?
Probably a little bit of everything! You’re likely cycling through a lot of the 39 weeks pregnant symptoms. One moment you’re racing around with high energy, accomplishing all your pre-baby chores around the house, and the next you want to just curl up in bed with your body pillow and snooze. You may also be feeling anticipation (OMG, baby’s almost here!) with a little bit of nervousness (OMG, baby’s almost here!). You got this, mama! And if you’re the rare mom-to-be who’s 39 weeks pregnant with twins, kudos to you! You’ve kept those babies baking despite the odds of an early delivery (and despite your all-around discomfort). You’re probably feeling many 39 weeks pregnant symptoms, including the urge to get your twosome out of your 39 weeks pregnant belly and into the world. Don’t worry—the end is so near!
Other symptoms are your body’s way of telling you baby is making their arrival ASAP. At 39 weeks pregnant, signs of labor are the biggest things on your mind. It’s important to know what they are, but don’t worry too much about going into labor without realizing it. In most cases, labor symptoms will be so strong and so different from what you’ve been experiencing that you won’t be able to ignore them.
Call your OB if you experience either of these:
- Water breaking. It might not be like it is in the movies—you might have a slow trickle instead of a huge gush of water. But if at 39 weeks pregnant the discharge is watery instead of its usual consistency, that probably means your amniotic sac has ruptured and you will likely go into labor within hours.
- Regular contractions. If you’re having repetitive and painful tightening in your belly, start timing the contractions. If they keep coming and the time between them keeps getting shorter, you’re in the beginning stage of labor. Just how long this stage lasts will vary from mom to mom (yes, you’ll be a mom very soon!), so keep your OB updated and follow their directions for getting to the hospital by the time you progress into active labor.
- When you’re 39 weeks pregnant, no signs of labor may have appeared yet, and that’s fine too! The average first-time mom-to-be goes into labor naturally at 41 weeks, and a second-time mom tends to go at 40 weeks. And while some women start to show signs of labor—a dilated and/or effaced cervix, regular contractions, etc.—weeks or days before they give birth, others go from zero to 10 centimeters dilated within hours.
Can you be in labor without contractions or water breaking?
Contractions are the body’s way of getting ready for delivery, so you need them to be in labor. (We’re talking real contractions, not the Braxton Hicks kind.) It’s a different story when it comes to your water breaking, which doesn’t happen naturally for all women. If you’ve reached the get-to-the-hospital stage of your contractions and your water hasn’t broken, your doctor may take care of that for you when you get there. If your water breaks and there aren’t any contractions to go along with that, contact your OB, because that can lead to infection risk.
Now that you’re 39 weeks pregnant (full term!) and itching to give birth, you might wonder how to induce labor naturally at home. Gulping down castor oil and taking herbal remedies aren’t considered safe—and eating spicy food just isn’t going to do it. But there are a few things that are typically safe and may work:
- Walking. Tie on those sneakers and go for a long, long walk. It’s not a medically proven method of inducing labor at 39 weeks, but some experts believe gravity will push baby down onto your cervix and the pressure will start dilation.
- Acupuncture. Again, it’s not proven, but there’s some evidence to suggest that this ancient practice regulates blood flow, which stimulates your cervix to dilate.
- Having sex. Some believe that having an orgasm (which you can safely achieve with or without your partner) can help bring on contractions. Couldn’t hurt to try, right?
For some women who are 39 weeks pregnant, the doctor might recommend a medical induction. Reasons for inducing labor include complications (preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, a heart condition), placental problems and infection of the uterus. Induction also may be recommended if you’re 39 weeks pregnant with twins or if your water broke but labor hasn’t started on its own.
Should I shave before giving birth?
At this 39 week stage of pregnancy, shaving your pubic hair is a pretty tricky job to pull off! You’ll be glad to know you don’t have to go through the hassle of shaving before giving birth; in fact, if you’re having a c-section, you’re advised not to.
Inside your 39 weeks pregnant belly, baby is probably able to flex their limbs now. Baby's brain is still rapidly developing—they’re getting smarter by the week! Baby's nails may extend past the fingertips now.
A 39 weeks pregnant ultrasound and non-stress test might be in order to check on baby’s well-being—especially if you’re 39 weeks pregnant with twins. After seeing the results of these two tests, your doctor might say everything looks a-okay, or they might recommend an early delivery.
At 39 weeks pregnant, there’s nothing left to do except see the doctor each week, wait for baby and keep your mind busy with little tasks. If they get done, great. If not, no biggie. We know it’s tough to relax, but try!
One of the most productive things you can do during your nesting phase is get your kitchen in order. Stock up on pantry essentials and prepare meals that can be frozen now and then reheated after you come home with baby. Trust us, the last thing you’ll want to be doing while you get acquainted with your newborn is grocery shopping and cooking elaborate meals.
Go for a quick dip
At 39 weeks, you probably feel ready to burst at the seams. Take all the pressure and weight off you by going for a swim—check with your OB first to ensure you aren’t dialated. You’ll feel weightless floating in the water, and that can help relieve aches and pains.
Install your car seat
If you haven’t done so already, this is a task you (or your partner) should check off the to-do list before you leave for the hospital. Visit a local inspection station, such as your local police or fire station, to make sure you’ve done the job right!
Catch as many ZZZs as you can
This may be the last week you get to try to sleep through the night for a while, so take advantage of it! Get to bed early and take naps if you need to during the day. You’ll need your strength for the big day!
Reminders for the week:
Medical content was reviewed November 2020 by Sherry A. Ross, MD, an ob-gyn and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, and author of she-ology and she-ology, the she-quel: let’s continue the conversation.