39 Weeks - Pregnancy
Your baby continues to gain weight with increasing fat deposits to control his body temperature. He weighs between 6 and 9 pounds now and is 18 to 22 inches in length. Weight and length vary, depending on your baby’s genetic makeup. Boys do tend to weigh heavier than girls. Lanugo has mostly disappeared, but you may find some on his arms, legs, or earlobes. It will eventually all fall off as baby gains fat to control body temperature.
You are probably growing extremely uncomfortable now, as baby’s feet extend into your ribs. The weight of your baby is taking a toll on your back, legs, and bladder. Swelling is a common occurrence in the 39th week, mostly in your extremities like ankles and feet and fingers and hands.
Your prenatal exams have increased to weekly. Each week, your doctor has been checking baby’s heartbeat, and will begin to do an internal exam to check effacement (when the cervix thins out) and dilation of the cervix. Your doctor will also want you to monitor your baby’s movements. Remember that your baby has run out of room, so movements will be small, but noticeable. If you notice a decrease in your baby’s movements, call your practitioner immediately.
If you do go past your due date, and many mothers do, don’t worry. Your doctor will continue to monitor you closely, and will probably do a pregnancy ultrasound to check and make sure you still have a good amount of amniotic fluid and that everything is well and good. Your doctor may choose to induce you at 40 weeks, or he may choose to wait and see what happens. Most OBs will not let you go past 42 weeks before they will induce. Remember that your best chances for a vaginal delivery occur with naturally induced labor. The reasons that OBs will induce is that they don’t want to let the baby get too big, which also could pose a higher risk of cesarean. Whichever way your baby is born, he WILL be born soon!
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This should be used as a general guideline and is for general information and educational purposes only. Please remember that all pregnancies develop at different rates. If you have questions about your baby's development, please contact your doctor or midwife.