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39 weeks pregnant - what's happening

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.

39 weeks infographic.

What does my baby look like?

Have you heard of meconium? It’s your baby’s first poo and it’s a poo like none other - sticky and very dark green. Your baby now has meconium in their gut.

If your baby poos during labour, you’ll see meconium in the amniotic fluid - your midwife will monitor you and your baby very closely as it could mean your baby’s stressed.

If you’re expecting a little 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 symptoms - what's happening

Keep needing to wee?

This can be particularly annoying in the middle of the night! Make sure you drink plenty of fluids during the day - but perhaps avoid glugging down gallons in the evenings.

You might find it helps to rock backwards and forwards when you’re on the loo to help you empty your bladder.

What is a show?

A ‘show’ is a small amount of bloody mucus that comes from your cervix. This can happen in early labour or before your labour begins.

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.

Checklist: Ready, steady, go!

  • 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.
  • Panicking you’ve forgotten to buy an essential bit of kit for your new baby’s arrival?

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.


1. You and your baby at 37–40 weeks pregnant, NHS Choices: [accessed 12 June 2015] (last reviewed: 11 February 2015; next review due: 11 February 2017).

2. Macdonald S, Magill-Cuerden J (2012) Mayes’ Midwifery, 14th edition, London, Ballière Tindall, p. 493.

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Last reviewed on April 1st, 2015. Next review date April 1st, 2018.

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  • By tshidi (not verified) on 23 Dec 2017 - 18:28

    hi I'm 39 weeks my baby movement is slowly an I start panicking coz he usually kicks so much bt these days its bt happening

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 Jan 2018 - 10:52

    Hi Tshidi, I am sure that you have had your baby by now, but any reduction in movements need to be reviewed at your local hospital, urgently.
    Please take good care of yourself!
    Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

  • By noor (not verified) on 6 Dec 2017 - 15:34

    i am 39 weeks pregnant but still no contractions today i visit my doctor and she said wait for 5 days .. if labor will not start then have an ceasarean on 12 december... my EDD is 13 december ... i am confused that what should i do ... wait for 2 to 3 weeks or ceasarean ????

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 6 Dec 2017 - 16:27

    Hi Noor, congratulations on your pregnancy!
    Your baby can arrive anytime from 37 weeks onwards.
    Unless there is a specific reason/medical condition that you have been booked for a ceasearean, then you do not need to have one. Most women are able to wait until they are 41+5 before they need an induction of labour- this can be booked at your 40 week appointment by your midwife.
    It is quite alot to explain via webpage msg, so please call us on 0800 0147800 if you wish to discuss this in more detail.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 7 Dec 2017 - 03:09

    is there any possibility to start on labor by external source ??? i never ever want to have an ceasarean ....

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 7 Dec 2017 - 13:47

    Hi, Thank you for your comment.

    Only around 5% of babies will be born on their due date. If you have a low risk pregnancy with no complications then there is no reason why you would expect to have a caesarean. If you are at the end of your pregnancy, it is good to keep as mobile as you can, maintain a healthy diet and rest well when you need too. Labour will start when it needs to, but sometimes you can go overdue and you may be offered an induction of labour but your midwife will speak to you about this. Please keep an eye on your baby's movements and if you do have any concerns then please contact your local maternity unit. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By mercy .40 weeks (not verified) on 16 Sep 2017 - 04:51

    I have woken up felt as if there something coming out my panti wet wat could it be ,not a lot .

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 18 Sep 2017 - 11:54

    Thank you for your comment. If you are worried about your waters leaking it is essential that you seek medical advice asap - please call your local maternity unit so that you can be seen by a doctor or midwife asap.

  • By Priya (not verified) on 12 Sep 2017 - 04:06

    Am now 39 weeks,but my baby Head not yet comeq down.please give me some suggestions

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Sep 2017 - 12:13

    Dear Priya,

    Thank you for your post. You don't mention if this is your first baby or if you have had babies before. Is the baby in a head down position or is your baby in a breech position- where his/her bottom is in the pelvis?
    Please get back in contact about this and I will answer your question as best as I can.
    Warmest regards
    Anna-Tommy's Midwives

  • By Jay (not verified) on 29 May 2017 - 14:07

    Feels like my tummy shrink at 38 weeks pregnant but baby still quite active

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 31 May 2017 - 10:55

    Hi Jay, if you are concerned about the growth of your baby, then it is vital that you urgently visit your local day assessment unit/triage/labour ward. Sometimes when your waters break, your tummy can really change shape, so it is certainly worth going in to be checked over, even a hindwater leak of fluid can cause a "shrinking" effect on your bump. Please take good care of yourself and get yourself seen by a midwife and obstetric doctor.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 2 May 2017 - 18:03

    My baby movement is so active than before hope my baby is not distress and i have pains on and off like period pain on my tummy. Am feeling really tired because I feel pains on my left hip.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 May 2017 - 09:23

    Hi there.
    If you are concerned about your baby's movements slowing down, then it is important that you take yourself into your local labour ward or triage unit to be reviewed by a midwife and obstetric doctor.
    Having on and off period like pains, could be a sign of the start of labour for you, your body getting ready with "practice contractions"
    It is common to feel tired in the third trimester of pregnancy - but please do also check with your midwife that your iron levels are within the normal range as extreme tiredness can be caused by low iron levels in your blood.
    Please take good care of yourself, it sounds like your baby will soon be here :)

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 26 Apr 2017 - 07:53

    Are there any tips or tricks to help ease this pelvic pressure and pain? Nothing seems to make it easier whether I'm walking, sitting or lying down.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 27 Apr 2017 - 10:34

    Hi, Sorry to hear you are uncomfortable with this pain. Have you talked to your midwife about it? If this is pelvic girdle pain we have some advice on our page:
    Your midwife may also be able to refer you to the physios for assessment and advice. Please don't suffer in silence. Best wishes.

  • By Zara (not verified) on 1 Apr 2017 - 21:08

    Hello I m 39 weeks pregnant n I have so much pain in my back sometime n front like periods pain I can't sleep all night coz of pain I don't know what's going on coz my other children born few days before their due date this time my feets lags hands r badly swelling n have pain I can't even walk or sit I don't know what to do ????

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 Apr 2017 - 09:46

    Hi Zara, you are term from 37 weeks and your baby can be born anytime safely from then onwards. It sounds as if you could be going into labour and so you need to contact your local hospital labour ward/birth centre as a matter of urgency due to your abdominal pain as well as the swelling in your hands. Both of these need to be investigated by a midwife and possibly an obstetric doctor. Please don't forget to take your pregnancy notes in with you, as well as your bags in case they need to keep you in. Good luck! Take care of yourself and bump!

  • By Kate (not verified) on 24 Jan 2017 - 12:05

    I'm 39 week plus no contraction yet

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 24 Jan 2017 - 12:16

    Hi there.
    No contractions at 39+ weeks is normal, a term pregnancy is anytime between 37-42 weeks.
    If you notice any change or slowing of fetal movement they should be investigated by a midwife at your nearest maternity unit on the labour ward or triage. If you baby's movements are slowing down or have changed in their patterns, then this should be a reason to take yourself into hospital asap to be reviewed. Please take care of yourself.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 30 Jan 2017 - 22:16

    I'm 39 weeks got cervix check last week, still closed and thick no sign she's ready. No contractions I'm so ready body in pain.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 31 Jan 2017 - 09:49

    Hello - hope you are well. A baby's estimated due date is just that - an estimation, which means that baby should hopefully come anywhere between 37-42 weeks. I know its diffcult in the late stages of pregnancy to be waiting for a baby when you are increasingly tired and carrying a full term baby, but if all is well baby will come when its ready.
    Try and find things to do in these last few days of pregnancy that lifts your mood and helps you feel better - a visit to the hairdressers, the cinema, out for a meal or even just relaxing - it maybe a while before you have such time to yourself after the baby comes.
    Keep a close eye on baby's movements - any change or slowing down of your baby's movements should be checked by your maternity unit asap.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Jan 2017 - 09:32

    Hi there.
    Any change or slowing of fetal movement should be investigated by a midwife at your nearest maternity unit on the labour ward or triage. If you baby's movements are slowing down or have changed in their patterns, then this should be a reason to take yourself into hospital asap to be reviewed. Please take care of yourself.

  • By Phlokuhle nkosi (not verified) on 7 Jan 2017 - 07:40

    My baby movement is slowly iam 39 weeks plus

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