Tommy's PregnancyHub

39 weeks pregnant - all you need to know

Your baby is now the size of mini watermelon - and you’re probably feeling a bit like a whale. Hang on in there - you’ll soon be meeting your baby.
Image

What does my baby look like in week 39? 

Meconium is the word for your baby’s first poo. It is sticky and very dark green. Your baby now has meconium in their gut.

If your baby poos during labour, there will be meconium in the amniotic fluid. If this happens your midwife will monitor you and your baby very closely.

If you’re expecting a boy, he may be born with rather larger, swollen testicles - this is just due to hormones in your body and they’ll soon settle down.

Your pregnancy symptoms in week 39

A ‘show’

During pregnancy your womb is protected from infection by a plug of mucus on the cervix. A ‘show’ is the word describing this when it comes away and you see it on your underpants. It looks like a small amount of mucus mixed with blood. This can happen in early labour or before your labour begins, and it is a sign that your body is getting ready for labour.

Read about 4 ways your body gets ready for labour.

Braxton Hicks contractions

Braxton Hicks contractions can be quite powerful towards the end of your pregnancy and it’s easy to mistake them for labour contractions.

You have them because the muscles of your womb tighten and you may notice that your tummy becomes hard for a short period, then softens again. These should not cause pain.

If your tummy remains constantly hard or the tightenings become regular and painful, contact your midwife or labour ward for advice.

Actions to take

Being healthy in the last weeks of pregnancy

Carry on eating a healthy diet. You may need around 200 extra calories a day during the last part of your pregnancy but you also might feel more comfortable if you eat little and often.

Keep up with your pelvic floor exercises, too. Toning up your pelvic floor muscles will benefit you during labour and birth as well as after your baby is born.

Sleeping safely for your baby

When you reach your third trimester, the advice is to go to sleep on your side because research has shown that going to sleep on your back is linked to an increased risk of stillbirth. This advice includes daytime napping and night sleeping. Read more about safe sleep positions in pregnancy.

Labour and birth: things to think about

  • Give your partner, family or friends a list of emergency contacts.
  • Keep the phone numbers of reliable taxi firms to hand or have someone on standby with a car (and petrol) to take you to the hospital when the time comes.
  • Take your hospital notes with you wherever you go, just in case - even to the supermarket!
  • Make sure your hospital bags are packed and easy to grab at short notice.
  • Complete your pregnancy and post-birth wellbeing plan.

Can anything really help start labour?

Raspberry leaf tea. Sex. Nipple stimulation. You’ve probably heard them all before - but is there really any way to help bring on labour?

“I was very stressed towards the end of my pregnancy, so I decided to try acupuncture. I can't prove that it was this that set off labour, but it certainly helped me to de-stress.” Vicky, mum of two

Ask your midwife for more information about complementary therapies in pregnancy and labour.

Take a look at what you need for your newborn baby.

NHS Choices. You and your baby at 37–40 weeks pregnant. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pregnancy-weeks-37-38-39-40.aspx (Page last reviewed: 31/03/2017 Next review due: 31/03/2020).

Macdonald S, Magill-Cuerden J (2012) Mayes’ Midwifery, 14th edition, London, Ballière Tindall

Heazell AEP, Li M et al (2017) Association between maternal sleep practices and late stillbirth – findings from a stillbirth case-control study. BJOG 2017; https://doi.org/10.1111/1471-0528.14967.

Stacey T, Thompson JM et al (2011) Association between maternal sleep practices and risk of late stillbirth: a case-control study. BMJ. 2011 Jun 14;342:d3403. doi: 10.1136/bmj.d3403.

Gordon A1, Raynes-Greenow C et al (2015) Sleep position, fetal growth restriction, and late-pregnancy stillbirth: the Sydney stillbirth study. Obstet Gynecol. 2015 Feb;125(2):347-55. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000000627.

Review dates

Last reviewed: 28 June, 2018
Next review: 28 June, 2021