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39 Weeks Pregnant

During 39 weeks pregnant, it is common to experience early signs of labor (mild contractions or Braxton-Hicks contractions). If you start to have contractions, you should start timing them. If they come at irregular intervals and do not increase in strength, then they are probably false labor pains. During true labor, you contractions come at regular intervals, getting closer together as time passes, and they will also increase in strength.

At each of your now-weekly visits, your caregiver will do an abdominal exam to check your baby’s growth and position. She 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 caregiver to predict exactly when your baby is coming. If you go past your due date, your caregiver will schedule you for fetal testing (usually a sonogram) after 40 weeks to ensure that it’s safe to continue the pregnancy. If you don’t go into labor on your own, most practitioners will induce labor 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 percent of term pregnancies. Sometimes there’s a big gush of fluid, but sometimes there’s only a small gush or a slow leak. (Don’t try to make the diagnosis yourself. Call even if you only suspect you have a leak.) If you rupture your membranes and don’t start contractions on your own, you’ll be induced.
By pregnancy week 39, your baby now probably weighs between 7 and 7.5 pounds, and is likely between 19 and 21 inches long (Boys tend to be slightly heavier than girls)! Your baby’s waiting to greet the world! He continues to build a layer of fat to help control his body temperature after birth. The outer layers of his skin are sloughing off as new skin forms underneath.

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