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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.

39 weeks infographic.

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. (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;

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.

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    Last reviewed on June 28th, 2018. Next review date June 28th, 2021.

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    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
    • By Elizabeth (not verified) on 21 Dec 2019 - 14:59

      All the post here are really helpful.thanks ma

    • By Preciey (not verified) on 5 Dec 2019 - 03:54

      My tummy tightens a few times, and my baby bumps on my cervix then ill have these sharp pains. I also have early morning mini back pains but no sign of labor. Im really worried, is everything still good, I can't wait for my baby to arrive.

    • By Ntombi (not verified) on 16 Sep 2019 - 09:10

      Hi please kindly advise, i always have stomach pains once i eat even if is fresh food. Is it normal or should i be worried?

    • By Noel (not verified) on 18 Aug 2019 - 06:13

      I have lower back pain since yesterday, should i go to hospital ?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 20 Aug 2019 - 11:00

      Hi Noel
      Lower back pain at this gestation can be due to a few things. Your body could be trying to get itself into labour. You may have a urinary tract infection. Or your lower back is struggling with carrying the pregnancy bump. Either way, I would like you to go to your local maternity unit for a review by a midwife and Obstetric doctor.
      Please take care, Tommy's Midwife

    • By Honour Ahmed (not verified) on 6 Aug 2019 - 17:55

      I am 39 weeks 3 days, I feel restless and back pain.but am so worried that labour is been delayed.what's your advice?

    • By Anamika (not verified) on 8 Jul 2019 - 04:35

      Currently I m in my 40 week and my baby is due on 13 july. But during last visit to my gyn. She told me there is no sign of baby dropping yet which means I have to go for CS. THIS is my first pregnancy, M really worried, plz suggest what should I do so that baby will drop soon and I can have normal delivery or what options do I have for my labour which should I prefer CS or normal. Plz help.

    • By Chelsea (not verified) on 23 Aug 2019 - 18:24

      I hope you didnt end up having to get a csection. I'm having my 3rd next week and unfortunately none of my babies have dropped until I was pushing them out. No csections though. Theres many alternatives that can be done even if baby doesnt descend. I've been induced with everyone of my pregnancies because I dont dilate/go into labor naturally.

    • By Bene (not verified) on 21 Jun 2019 - 15:45

      Hi,I'm 39w3d today I feel slightly menstrual pain in the night. I have milky discharge with faul scent ,and I feel pressure in my lower abdomen ,but they only happen in the my feet too are swollen. Could it be a sign of labour?

    • By Firdous (not verified) on 9 Apr 2020 - 21:56

      Same as her

    • By Gladis (not verified) on 10 Jun 2019 - 07:00

      Hello I’ll be 39 weeks by Monday (tomorrow’) my due date is on June 15 ., last Tuesday I found out by baby was on transverse position ., not heads down yet ., they schedule me a c section the next day but I cancel it ., dong want to get one ., cuz I have two little toddlers to take care of ., can’t. Be in bed rest for 5 weeks ., my kids. Need me ., is their a chance my baby will flip? Head down? ? Please help .,
      My two other kids I have a normal vaginal delivery , don’t know why this baby hasn’t been heads downs

    • By Felicia (not verified) on 19 Jun 2019 - 11:13

      It's the same issue that am passing through but I am going to the hospital today for the doctors to help turn the baby down by God's Grace.
      talk to your midwife about it

    • By Isabella (not verified) on 15 May 2019 - 14:33

      But the doctor says the bady is still far up, i am so worried about that

    • By fash (not verified) on 11 May 2019 - 12:42

      I will be 39 weeks by Monday.. and am really tired.. Wat is delaying my bundle of joy please am getting worried

    • By Vivian (not verified) on 29 Mar 2019 - 07:02

      I'm 40 weeks and the say mi due date would be on the 04april but I had lot of pains viginal pain and also the increase of discharge is more the babay head is down now I can't even. Move well and I had back pains also my leg's are painfully

    • By Nelly (not verified) on 26 Mar 2019 - 13:04

      I feel no signs of labor, I vomite every morning after a meal. What excesices can I do?

    • By Nelly (not verified) on 26 Mar 2019 - 13:02

      I feel no signs of labor, I vomite every morning after a meal. What excesices can I do?

    • By Jabulile (not verified) on 10 Mar 2019 - 16:58

      Hi, please advise when i went for my last scan of 38 weeks the gynecologist said the weight of the baby is 4.106kg and suggested that i should option for a ceasarian section but the thing is my first born was 3.8kg at birth and normal delivery so am not looking forward to the ceasarian, i want to try pushing than if am struggling than they can extend me or do an emergency ceasarian section, please advise on what should i opt for as my baby is big and am just 39 weeks now. Can i be induced or wait for labour to kick in?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Mar 2019 - 13:16

      Hi Jabulile,
      It is your choice as to how you have your baby, it is important that you have the opportunity to discuss how you feel and what you would like to do. Do not feel pressured in to a decision that you are not happy with. Do discuss this further with your doctor.
      Best wishes
      Tommy's midwife

    • By Diana Sosa (not verified) on 6 Mar 2019 - 21:16

      It’s my first child so i am trying to keep an eye out for any pain. I am 39 weeks and 3 days today but for the past week I have not felt any vaginal pain no discharge or any sort no back pain like I just to feel in the beginning of my first trimester. I do still feel the baby moving so I know he is ok all I get is menstrual pain but it’s very light. Last visit at the doctor was told I am 1 centimeter open. I am thinking that I am going to pass my due date on March 11

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 7 Mar 2019 - 11:47

      Hi - Thank you for your message.
      It is not unusual to not experience any vaginal pain, back pain or discharge at 39+ weeks. Similarly, the period lie pain you are experiencing are also good signs of your body preparing for labour.

    • By nompilo (not verified) on 22 Feb 2019 - 12:49

      hi,I'm 39 weeks of pregnancy I feel pain since today morning n during the day I see the discharge like brownish in colour should I go to the hospital

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Feb 2019 - 13:34

      It sounds like it would be a good idea to call your labour ward to discuss your symptoms.
      Best wishes
      Tommy's midwife

    • By Rachael (not verified) on 7 Feb 2019 - 13:49

      Hi I'm 39weeks today and av been experiencing lower abdominal pain like mensural cramp but more painful and each time it occurs my stomach gets hard.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 7 Feb 2019 - 15:52

      Hi - Lower abdominal pain can often be sign of early labour. Keep an eye on how often they are happening and contact your maternity unit if they become regular and painful.

    • By maurine wekesa (not verified) on 4 Feb 2019 - 10:12

      Iam 39 weeks pregnant iam having abdominal pain that comes and goes should I worry

    • By Agnes (not verified) on 20 Jan 2019 - 06:41

      I have pain like menstral at 39 weeks

    • By Joyce (not verified) on 14 Jan 2019 - 17:05

      I am 39 weeks pregnant and I find it very difficult to sleep at night..last night I had cramps like mestruration pains i don't no if I should be concerned

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Jan 2019 - 11:17

      Hi Joyce. We always advise, that any abdominal pain, at any gestation of pregnancy, needs to be reviewed. At 39 weeks, its possible that your body is warming up to get into labour, but you need to go to your local maternity unit with your pregnancy notes for this to be reviewed before this conclusion can be drawn. So please be seen as soon as you can. All the best, Tommy's Midwife

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 7 Jan 2019 - 01:35

      Hi, my feet have started to swell and I can feel the swelling going up to my legs. I had my baby at 39 weeks via C section due to baby being breech. All my reports are normal in terms of blood pressure etc and I’ve had a very normal pregnancy too and haven’t had any swelling throughout. Today is 4 days post delivery. Would this swelling be something serious or just a lack of circulation due to being on bed rest?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 7 Jan 2019 - 15:56

      Hi, Yes this may be linked to bed rest. We do advise women to be up and about and walk around the house during the day. Nothing energetic, but to keep the circulation moving. However, at day 4 you are under the care of the community midwife and if you have concerns you should be seen and examined. Please don't hesitate to give them a call.

    • By Sarah (not verified) on 31 Dec 2018 - 04:19

      Just over 39 weeks and discharge has become more frequent. Thought it may have been the mucus plug however it only looked like normal discharge.
      Is increasing amount of discharge normal?
      Am feeling more Braxton Hicks too and had a very slight period pain front left side last night but disappeared.
      Hoping all normal signs for preparing for labour

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Jan 2019 - 15:41

      Hi Sarah
      You have probably had the baby by now. Yes, an increase in discharge is normal, as long as there is no itching, discomfort or unusual smell to it.
      If any of these are present and you have not yet had the baby, then please go in for review. All the best, Tommy's Midwife

    • By Veli (not verified) on 14 Dec 2018 - 13:28

      I'm 39 weeks and my baby's head is still high.
      I haven't see and form of discharge as yet.
      I'm really confuse.
      This is my 3rd child.
      My first one was normal delivery
      2nd one I went though induction.
      Now the 3rd one I really want to have a normal delivery. I hate going through induction.
      I really don't want to go to CS also.
      Do I have any change of having a normal delivery?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 Dec 2018 - 16:53

      Hi Please don't worry. In a 3rd baby this is normal and the head will engage when you go into labour. As long as the baby is in a good position we do not worry about the decent. Best wishes to you from Tommy's midwives

    • By Richie (not verified) on 10 Dec 2018 - 16:50

      For couples of week now I have been having constant contractions which go on and off though not too painful sometimes it comes with mestrual pain like but I'm yet to see the mucus plug nor water break. Baby head is down and I feel the pressure on my pelvic. Secondly, i am having itching on my tummy which makes my belly to have stretch mark all over. Please is the itching normal?. My last scan fetal weight was 3702 pls I couldn't interpreted that. Could that mean 3.7 or what? Thanks

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Dec 2018 - 14:23

      Hi Richie, Thank you for your comment.

      It can be very common for you to experience practice contractions throughout and towards the end of pregnancy. It will be your body getting ready for labour. With regards to the itching, if you feel that this is getting worse or it has started on your hands and feet as well then please call your antenatal day unit so that you can be seen. Itching in pregnancy can be linked to the condition Cholestasis that causes itching in pregnancy and other medical issues. If you have any concerns about your baby's movements then again please call the hospital. With regards to the fetal weight 3702g is interpreted at 3.702 Kg. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Sasha (not verified) on 31 Oct 2018 - 10:15

      I’m 39+2. With my first child, yesterday my mucus plug showed but without blood or any brown. It was just yellow and jelly like thick.
      Tightening in stomach on and off, no lower back pains. Just back pains from the top. Leg muscles hurt I’m my thighs and arms and hands are aching and very warm. I just want my baby here now. What can I do to bring on labour?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Nov 2018 - 11:40

      Hi Sasha
      It sounds like your body is warming up to go into labour. Try visiting our page on this - see below
      All the best, Tommy's Midwife

    • By Cate (not verified) on 26 Nov 2018 - 11:36

      I have diarrhoea and my due date is 5 december what can i do for diarrhoea to stop

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 26 Nov 2018 - 11:54

      Hi, Just make sure that you are drinking plenty of water and washing your hands after using the toilet. If it goes on for more than 48 hours or if you are becoming increasingly dehydrated or unwell please call your GP orl your DAU (Day Assessment Unit) for advice. This link may help

    • By Laura Hughes (not verified) on 15 Sep 2018 - 08:48


      I'm 38 weeks 5 day i've had a little show, back ache and twinges that suddenly stopped. I've woke up this morning to feel the baby seems to have moved position and not feeling a lot of movement at all. If anyone has any advice or the same in previous pregnancy


    • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 Sep 2018 - 10:50

      Hi Laura, If you have concerns about the movements please don't hesitate. Your hospital is open 24 hours a day and they will see you at any time. It is likely that all is well but it is worth that extra reassurance if you have any worries. Take care x

    • By Jessica (not verified) on 8 Sep 2018 - 20:19

      I feel like menstrual cramp and my back is slightly painful.. and im having discharge. Is it normal?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Sep 2018 - 10:43

      Hi Jessica
      It's very normal to start to feel some period type pains and back ache at this stage-you may be going into early labour. Your discharge can increase as well. Please contact your maternity unit if you think your waters have broken, you notice bleeding, regular painful contractions, the baby's movements are less than normal, you have headaches, blurred vision,severe abdominal pain,itching or any other concerns.
      The attached link has more information for you-

      Take care

    • By Nishat Moazzama (not verified) on 8 Sep 2018 - 18:42

      I am 39 weeks of pregnant.
      Dr.said my delivery date accordingly scan 18th September.
      My lmp date is 16th December 2017.
      I felt little bit of pressure and pain at night.
      These pressure was not continues its randomly changes its speed.
      I eagerly waiting for my labour pain.
      And do pray everyday to give birth in normal baby.
      Plz tell me..
      Is is normal?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Sep 2018 - 10:35

      Hi Nishat
      It sounds like your body is preparing to go into labour-it's very common and normal to feel pressure and pains at night. However if you start to have regular painful contractions which do not go away, if your waters break, you have bleeding, the baby is moving less or you have other concerns such as headaches,blurred vision, severe stomach pains or itching then you should contact your maternity unit straight away for advice.
      The following link has more information for you about signs of labour-

      Take care
      Tommy's Midwife

    • By MO (not verified) on 6 Sep 2018 - 22:36

      Hello there. I am 38weeks and 5 days. And I am already tired of being pregnant, can't wait to meet her. I feel pains almost every night when her movements become so intense. I feel the sensation in my vagina. Braxton hicks are frequent as well. How do I ease the pain or discomfort when her movements get intense?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 Sep 2018 - 16:19

      The last few weeks of pregnancy can be very uncomfortable but you will meet your baby very soon! Try to keep active and moving around as this can help with discomfort-you may have to experiment to try and find a comfortable position when she is moving. perhaps a warm shower or bath may help too
      I have attached some links with more information to help you-

      Please contact your maternity unit immediately if you are worried about her movements, your waters break, there is bleeding, labour starts, you have severe headaches, blurred vision, severe abdominal pain, itching or any other concerns

      Take care
      Tommy's Midwife

    • By Nancy (not verified) on 28 Aug 2018 - 09:34

      Am 39 weeks and I have not experienced any changes yet, am so tired of the stress, not able to sleep, feeling tired and week, baby is still active but most times I feel pains close to my vagina when the baby is kicking. What can I do to make labor start?

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