Pregnancy Week 39


Your baby's waiting to greet the world! He continues to build a layer of fat to help control his body temperature after birth, but it's likely he already measures about 20 inches and weighs a bit over 7 pounds, about the size of a mini-watermelon. (Boys tend to be slightly heavier than girls.) The outer layers of his skin are sloughing off as new skin forms underneath.

Currently he gets his oxygen and nutritional requirements from you, via the placenta, and, and although he practises breathing – inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid, he does not use his lungs for oxygen transfer as they are filled with water.

At each of your now-weekly visits, your doctor will do an abdominal exam to check your baby's growth and position. He might also do an internal exam to see whether your cervix has started ripening: softening, effacing (thinning out), and dilating (opening). But even armed with this information, there's still no way for your doctor to predict exactly when your baby is coming. If you go past your due date, your doctor will schedule you for fetal testing after 40 weeks to ensure that it's safe to continue the pregnancy.

If you don't go into labour on your own, most practitioners will induce labour when you're between one and two weeks overdue — or sooner if there's an indication that the risk of waiting is greater than the risks of delivering your baby without further delay.

While you're waiting, it's important to continue to pay attention to your baby's movements and let your caregiver know right away if they seem to decrease. Your baby should remain active right up to delivery, and a noticeable slowdown in activity could be a sign of a problem. Also call if you think your water may have broken. Membranes rupture before the beginning of labor in about 8% of term pregnancies. Sometimes there's a big gush of fluid, but sometimes there's only a small gush or a slow leak.

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