You and Your Baby at Week 39 of Your Pregnancy

(10 minute read)

You and Your Baby at Week 39 of Your Pregnancy

Week 39

As pregnancy normally lasts about 40 weeks, you could give birth at any moment! Birth can happen any day now, with most babies arriving within the 37 to 42-week range. This time of pregnancy can bring a range of emotions: excitement for meeting your baby, the anticipation as labour or your c-section approaches, and perhaps some pressure from loved ones who are eager to meet your baby. It's perfectly normal to experience this mix of feelings. During this time, try to not work on doing what you think is right, tune into what feels right for you and make decisions that put you and your well-being centre stage.

How Big is Baby at 39 Weeks?

39 weeks pregnant

At 39 weeks, your baby is comparable in size to a watermelon, measuring approximately 50.7 cm (20 inches) in length and weighing between 7 to 7.5 pounds (3.17 to 3.4 kg). The head circumference, around 13.5 to 14 inches, is a critical measurement as it prepares for passage through the birth canal. While these averages give a general idea, each baby's size and weight can vary based on genetics and other factors, making every pregnancy unique.

Now, let's address the WATERMELON in the room. The thought of pushing out a watermelon can be pretty daunting. Whilst a lot of people may say a newborn baby is the size of a watermelon, they're actually not - they're the size of a newborn baby. They're designed to fit through your pelvis, and their bodies will do this intuitively. From turning in the pelvis to changing the shape of their head as they navigate the bones of the pelvis, a baby really is designed to be birthed vaginally. So take the 'your baby is the size of a watermelon' with a pinch of salt and trust the process. 

Baby's skin development

Over the past few weeks, your baby's skin has undergone significant changes. Initially, it was nearly transparent, but now it has thickened and taken on a more solid appearance. This development is crucial for several reasons: it provides protection for the baby's internal organs, helps with temperature regulation after birth, and is part of the overall preparation for life outside the womb.


Vernix, a white, waxy coating on your baby's skin, plays a vital role during and after birth. This substance helps the baby to slide more easily through the birth canal, reducing friction. Additionally, it acts as a moisturizer and protective barrier against infections. While some of this vernix may have disappeared by the time of birth, babies are born with a layer of vernix on their skin. It looks a little bit like cottage cheese.

Your Body at 39 Weeks

As you approach the final days of pregnancy, your body adjusts in preparation for labour. "Lightening" or "engagement" occurs when the baby drops lower into the pelvis, often making breathing easier as pressure on the diaphragm is reduced. You may even notice that your bump looks physically lower. This shift can also increase pelvic pressure and mean more bathroom visits due to the added pressure on your bladder. This can be quite annoying, but don't worry—it's short-lived.

The cervix plays a crucial role in labour and delivery. As you approach labour, it starts to soften, thin out (effacement), and open up (dilation). These changes can happen gradually over several weeks or more quickly over a few days. Sometimes, it happens very quickly during labour (this is true for those who give birth very quickly). If you want to know if your cervix has started to soften or 'ripen' then you can ask for a vaginal examination - this should always be your choice.



Pregnancy Symptoms at Week 39

At 39 weeks pregnant, you may experience a variety of symptoms as your body prepares for labour:

  • Nesting Instinct: The nesting instinct is a burst of energy many women experience, making them clean, organize, and prepare their home for the baby's arrival. While this can be a productive way to get ready, it's important to avoid overexerting yourself. Be mindful of resting as you need to!


  • Braxton Hicks Contractions: Braxton Hicks contractions are your body's way of rehearsing for labour. These contractions can become more frequent and noticeable as your due date approaches. They are generally irregular and not as painful as true labour contractions. If you find them uncomfortable, try changing positions or drinking water to ease the sensations.


  • Pelvic Pressure: As your baby drops lower into your pelvis, you may feel increased pressure and discomfort in your pelvic area. This pressure can also exacerbate swelling in your legs and feet. Elevating your legs and staying hydrated can help manage this swelling.


  • Back Pain: The added weight of your baby and the shift in your centre of gravity can lead to persistent back pain. To relieve this discomfort, consider gentle exercises like walking or prenatal yoga, which can strengthen your back muscles. Stretching and maintaining good posture are also beneficial in reducing back pain.


  • Insomnia: Sleep can become elusive in the final weeks of pregnancy due to discomfort and frequent bathroom trips. To improve your sleep quality, use pillows to support your belly, back, and legs. Creating a comfortable sleeping environment and practising relaxation techniques before bed can also help you get better rest.


  • Mood Swings: Hormonal fluctuations and the emotional anticipation of giving birth can lead to mood swings. It's normal to feel a wide range of emotions during this time. Sharing your feelings with loved ones, engaging in relaxing activities, and seeking professional support if needed can help manage these mood swings.


  • Increased Vaginal Discharge: You may notice more vaginal discharge, which can be thick, sticky, and white. If it becomes very watery or bloody-tinged, contact your midwife, as this could indicate labour is starting or it might be the mucus plug coming out (called a "show"). If you notice blood, please contact triage immediately.


  • Diarrhoea: Some women experience loose stools just before labour begins. This is your body's way of getting rid of excess waste so that it can focus all of it's energy on birth rather than digesting food.


What Should I be Worried About?

While many symptoms are normal at 39 weeks, certain signs require immediate medical attention. Contact your midwife or visit triage if you experience any of the following:

  • Persistent Abdominal Pain: Continuous, severe pain in your abdomen may indicate a problem.
  • Vaginal Bleeding: Any significant bleeding could be a sign of complications and warrants immediate medical attention.
  • Vaginal Discharge that is Brown or Pink: This could indicate labour or other issues that need to be checked.
  • Severe Itching, Especially at Night: This can be a symptom of cholestasis, a liver condition that requires medical evaluation.
  • Persistent Headache: Severe or persistent headaches can indicate preeclampsia, which needs prompt treatment.
  • Vision Disturbances: Blurred vision, sensitivity to light, or seeing spots or flashing

Preparing for Labour

This is a good time to make sure your hospital bag is packed and ready to go. Include items you'll need for your stay, such as a change of clothes, toiletries, snacks, and any specific items your doctor has advised you to bring. Also, ensure your transportation plans to the hospital are in place.


Online Hypnobirthing Course

Are you ready for birth?

Knowledge is power! Explore our hypnobirthing & infant feeding course for everything you need to know about labour and breasteeding. A world of incredible knowledge awaits!