39th week of pregnancy: what happens and how the baby grows

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Philippe Gloaguen
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39th week of pregnancy

We are at the end of the ninth month, at 39th week of pregnancy: this is probably yours last week of pregnancy. For most women, in fact, the contractions start these days and the baby is born this week. The baby weighs about 3 kg and measures 49-50 cm.





In this article

  • How does the child grow?
  • Symptoms of the 39th week of pregnancy
  • How the body changes in the thirty-ninth week of pregnancy
  • Exams to be done in the 39th week of pregnancy
  • Thirty-ninth week of pregnancy, the curiosities
  • Weeks of pregnancy

How does the child grow?

  • It is time for him to be born: his organs are ready and his little body is now able to face the outside world.
  • It is eight times bigger than it was at three months, when all the vital organs had already formed. Its weight has increased approximately 600 times.
  • He has lost some of the hair, although some may remain on his lower back, in front of his ears and on his forehead.
  • The fingernails have grown to the point that often it is necessary to cut them at birth so that the child does not scratch his face
  • During the delivery, the contractions push the newborn's body into the birth canal leading to an expansion of the cervix. The bones of the skull of the baby are not completely solid and this means that the skull can shrink even by about one centimeter. To facilitate the outward movement and take up as little space as possible, the baby sticks his chin against his body. 
  • The baby's intestines are full of meconium, a greenish liquid produced by the secretion of food glands combined with bile pigments, fluff and cells from the intestinal wall. 

If after this week of pregnancy the baby has not decided to be born, the doctor may decide to induce the birth.



Symptoms of the 39th week of pregnancy

  • Anxiety rises and the expectation becomes feverish. Relax, stay calm, especially if you feel contractions. It is now only a matter of hours to be able to hold your baby in your arms.
  • The legs and feet are increasingly swollen, and in some cases the face and hands as well.
  • If the waters break you have to go fast in hospital because the baby is about to be born, and you have to go there even if you feel the contractions regularly for at least ten minutes.

How the body changes in the 39th week of pregnancy

  • Your body prepares for the big day, in which you will meet your child. The cervix begins to dilate and the belly that has reached its maximum size begins to descend.
  • Among the changes you may feel these days is a shift in your center of gravity and you will have the sensation of swaying and being heavier and more voluminous.
  • The breasts will become larger and more sensitive, it is preparing for breastfeeding. You will not be able to sleep well at night and will have to go to the bathroom often.

Exams to be done in the 39th week of pregnancy

These days you will do the cardiotocografia, better known as monitoring, which is used to evaluate the health of the baby in the belly, the presence of contractions and the fetal heartbeat.



This is a very important exam because it allows you to keep the health of the fetus under control, especially near the expected date of delivery. Generally, the first monitoring is performed no earlier than the 38th week of gestation together with the other tests that are routinely performed in view of delivery (blood count, electrocardiogram, blood pressure control, etc.). It is a completely risk-free technique for both mother and baby, generally lasting from 30 minutes to 1 hour during which the expectant mother is lying on a bed or sitting on an armchair, in any case in a comfortable position , and the child's father may also be present.

From a technical point of view, it is an examination based on the measurement of two parameters: the fetal heart rate, that is the number of beats of the fetus's heart per minute, and uterine contractions. In addition, the midwife will evaluate the state of the cervix with a visit.

Thirty-ninth week of pregnancy, the curiosities 

Cervical dilation takes about 8 hours with the first child and 5 hours with the second.

Weeks of pregnancy

If you want to learn more about the other 40 weeks of pregnancy, she has created a nine-month calendar with advice on health, nutrition and tests to take during the 40 weeks. You will also be able to find out about the changes in the mother's body, how the baby bump grows and how the fetus develops.

  • The midwife's advice for 40 weeks of pregnancy
  • Pregnancy video from conception to birth
  • Pictures of pregnancy week by week
  • Exams to do in pregnancy
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