39 weeks pregnant: Your guide to this week of your third trimester

    Updated 25 September 2023 |
    Published 24 February 2019
    Fact Checked
    Medically reviewed by Dr. Charlsie Celestine, Obstetrician and gynecologist, New Jersey, US
    Written by Ella Braidwood
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    From preparing for childbirth to your baby’s skin changing, here’s the lowdown on being 39 weeks pregnant.

    At 39 weeks pregnant, you’re nearly ready to meet your baby. Have you thought about names yet? At this point in your pregnancy, you’re officially considered to be full term. This means your baby can come at any time, and your due date is fast approaching. 

    In weeks gone by, you may have focused on getting all of the vitamins, nutrients, and minerals you need for your baby’s development. You may have watched your bump grow and change shape. However, at this point in your pregnancy, it might just feel like a waiting game for your baby’s arrival. While some people find it comforting to read up on labor and delivery and check off the items in their hospital bag, others take the last days of pregnancy to kick back and relax. So here’s a guide to what’s happening with your body and baby at 39 weeks pregnant, including a few tips to be as comfortable as possible. 

    Your baby at 39 weeks pregnant 

    Your baby is almost ready to be born

    “At 39 weeks, the baby is full term and is continuing to grow,” explains Dr. Allison K. Rodgers, reproductive endocrinologist, obstetrician, and gynecologist at Fertility Centers of Illinois, US. “They typically grow about half a pound per week, and many babies will be head down, which causes a lot of pelvic pressure. Walking can be difficult with the pressure coming from within. Babies are practicing breathing to strengthen those muscles, but there isn’t much room to move around like they did when they were smaller.”

    As you prepare your baby’s nursery and pack your hospital bag, they’re continuing to gain weight to prepare for life in the outside world. 

    Your baby’s skin is no longer translucent

    Only a few weeks ago, your baby’s skin was transparent and wrinkly. However, during the second trimester, as they gain weight, they lose some of those wrinkles, and they produce melanin which gives their skin and eyes color. Their skin is no longer translucent, and the soft, downy coating of hair (lanugo) that covered your baby is starting to fall away, too. They may be covered in the creamy protective coating called the vernix caseosa, though this may have gone when your baby arrives. 

    How big is a baby at 39 weeks? 

    Length (crown to heel): 50 cm or 19.7 in 

    Weight: 3.4 kg or 7.6 lb 

    Size: Equivalent to a pumpkin

    All measurements are approximate and vary within the normal range.

    Your body at 39 weeks pregnant 

    Your water breaking

    As you approach your due date, preparation for labor has likely been on your mind. This can mean picking out a name and your baby’s first outfit, but it can also be helpful to learn some of the signs of labor. One crucial sign that active labor is approaching is your water breaking

    You’ll likely have heard stories about water breaking and may have seen it depicted in movies and on TV. It’s when the amniotic sac, which your baby grew inside of, breaks. The clear or pale yellow fluid (amniotic fluid) then drains from your vagina. You may feel a popping sensation when this happens, and the liquid may appear as a trickle or more of a gush. If you think your water has broken or you experience a loss of liquid from your vagina, reach out to your health care provider. 

    You might start to experience contractions

    Another indicator that you’ve gone into labor is if you start to experience contractions. Contractions are the periodic tightening and relaxing of your uterine muscles. It may feel like your bump is going hard and then relaxing. They get progressively closer together and may last for around 60 to 90 seconds. Once your contractions are lasting for this length of time and are five minutes apart, you should call your hospital or health care provider. 

    Your questions answered

    What are the chances of giving birth at 39 weeks? 

    As 39 weeks is considered to be full term, you could go into labor at any time. However, it can be difficult to know exactly when you’ll deliver your baby. While some people have their baby before their due date, others carry into weeks 41 and 42. Statistics collected on births in 2017 found that 57.49% of recorded births in the United States happened between 39 and 41 weeks. Twenty-six percent occurred between 37 and 38 weeks, 6.5% happened during week 41, and 0.33% during week 42.

    If you’re curious if your baby is in the head-down position and engaged for birth, you can speak to your doctor. 

    How do you tell labor is a few days away? 

    As mentioned above, it’s hard to tell if labor is a few days away, but the best thing to do is to look for some of the signs of labor. They include: 

    Some people will start to experience labor pains hours and even days before they enter active labor, so the signs of early labor don’t necessarily mean your baby will be with you promptly. However, if you notice some of the signs of labor, then it’s important to call your health care provider so they can advise you on what to do next. 

    What should I be feeling at 39 weeks pregnant? 

    At this late stage of pregnancy, you might be feeling excited, daunted, or just a bit uncomfortable. This is completely normal. “The further you get, the more uncomfortable you may become,” says Dr. Rodgers. “After all, you are carrying around a growing baby!”

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    39 weeks pregnant checklist

    Get ready for your baby’s arrival

    Reaching 39 weeks pregnant and full term might feel like a milestone moment, the time in your pregnancy you’ve been looking forward to. However, waiting for labor to begin and for your baby to arrive can be frustrating. 

    Try to prioritize being comfortable by continuing to drink enough water (it may help ease some constipation and tiredness) and get as much rest as you need. You may find it helpful to write down how you’re feeling in a journal. This can be handy to process any feelings you have about birth — both the excited and more anxious. You may even like looking back at it once your baby is here. Similarly, don’t repress any worries or anxieties. Speak to your birth partner, family, friends, and doctor. 

    If you’ve been attending prenatal classes, then keep going, and have a labor bag packed with all of your essentials. This can include lots of extra clothes for you and your baby, toiletries, and any medicines you’re taking. If you have one, it’s also a good idea to pack your birth plan.

    Monitor your baby’s movements

    Throughout your third trimester, you may have gotten into the habit of monitoring your baby’s unique rhythm of movement and activity. You can do that by kick counting — lying on your side with your hands on your bump. You can then count how many times your baby moves in one hour. In general, around 10 movements in one to two hours is considered typical fetal movement, but get to know your baby’s unique pattern so you can monitor this throughout the remainder of your pregnancy. 

    By 39 weeks, you’ll likely be pretty acquainted with your baby’s movements, and despite the fact that your baby is taking up most of the space inside your uterus, you should continue to feel their movements as much as before. Before, your baby had enough space to do full somersaults and pronounced kicks, but now, they’ll feel more like a roll or a poke. Remember to keep taking note of how often you feel your baby move and keep counting their kicks so you can tell your health care provider if they’re moving less than usual. 

    When to consult a doctor at 39 weeks pregnant 

    You’ll likely feel like a regular with your health care provider by 39 weeks pregnant. Depending on where you live, you may see them as often as once a week. Since you could have your baby at any time, it’s crucial to know and watch out for signs that you’re going into labor (listed above).

    However, you don’t need to wait until your appointment if you have any concerns or questions about your pregnancy. At 39 weeks pregnant, you should contact your doctor immediately if you experience: 

    This isn’t an exhaustive list but just some examples of the changes you should look for. Some of these can be a sign of health complications, so it’s essential that you speak to your doctor about the best next step for you. And if you’re worried about any other symptoms you experience during pregnancy, then don’t hesitate to reach out to your health care provider. 

    39 weeks pregnant: The takeaway

    Between settling on a few baby names, packing your delivery bag, and getting familiar with the typical signs of labor, 39 weeks pregnant can feel a little bit like sitting in a waiting room — you’re full of anticipation and waiting for the main event. Try to be gentle with yourself this week, resting when you need it and vocalizing any concerns or questions you have to your loved ones or your doctor. It won’t be long before you meet your baby. 


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    History of updates

    Current version (25 September 2023)

    Medically reviewed by Dr. Charlsie Celestine, Obstetrician and gynecologist, New Jersey, US
    Written by Ella Braidwood

    Published (24 February 2019)

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