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Week 39 of Pregnancy

Written by Amina Hatia RM
Medically reviewed by Marley Hall BA RM Diphe
March 18, 2022

You are now into days, not weeks, of your estimated due date – although do bear in mind that very few babies actually arrive on their due date.

Don’t be surprised by how tired and energetic you feel at the same time at this stage in pregnancy. Nesting – that deep urge to get everything ready for baby’s arrival whether it be cleaning, sorting, prepping is battling against just how tired you are feeling too – your bump is bigger, you feel heavier and find that walking, sitting, moving is a bit more laborious. 

The key is to listen to your body – take naps when you feel you need them, try and rest in-between bouts of activity and let others help. Getting ready for baby does not need to be all on you – partners, family, friends can all help out – and remember, your baby will be oblivious to what the house/nursery/rooms look like when they arrive.

Broken sleep can also affect your energy levels – so make sure you also take time to catch up on sleep during the day too. An afternoon nap can do wonders, just remember to lie on your side whenever you lie down.  

And also try to make time for some self-care and fun too in between all that preparing for labour, birth and baby. A haircut, a massage, reflexology by trained practitioners or even going out for a meal or to watch a film will all feel like real luxuries when baby arrives – so take some time out for yourself to do something that makes you feel uplifted too.

Keep up the gentle exercise too – it can aid with sleep, digestion – be it heartburn or constipation and a great way to prepare for labour too. Walking and swimming are great – doesn’t have to be miles or many lengths – again listen to your body and do what feels right for you.

How big is my baby at 39 weeks?

By 39 weeks, your baby has really grown from even a few weeks ago. Weighing about 3.2 kilograms, they are the size of a lovely ripe and juicy watermelon, so no wonder you are feeling heavy! Baby is now also measuring over 50 centimetres from top to toe – which explains those feet digging into your ribs.

What happens in week 39 of pregnancy?

At this stage in your pregnancy, your baby’s organs are now fully formed in preparation to function once baby has been born.

However, that doesn’t mean development doesn’t continue – for example, your baby’s lungs and their brain will continue to grow and develop, whilst at the same time baby will also continue to gain weight too.

Your baby’s immune system is also continuing to develop and become stronger, mainly thanks to you!  You have been passing antibodies to your baby via the placenta from the beginning of the second trimester, so that your baby is able to build their immune system which will help them fight off illness and protect them from infection. Interestingly, in these final few weeks you will pass the majority of the antibodies to your baby.

39 pregnancy symptoms

Piles (Haemorrhoids) – Whilst many are affected by piles in later pregnancy, this is not often spoken about openly. Piles are the term used for the itchiness or swellings in or around your bottom (anus/rectum area) caused by enlarged veins. They can be quite uncomfortable and cause discomfort with sitting, having a bowel movement as well as an itchiness that causes soreness.  You may notice that you have some mucus discharge or even bleeding after a bowel movement, or that you can feel a lump hanging out of your anus after passing a stool – which will need to be pushed back in.

Anyone can get piles, but piles are more common in pregnancy due to the increased volume of blood circulating around your body, as well as the higher levels of progesterone which cause the walls of your blood vessels to relax.

Similarly, the veins under your uterus at this stage in pregnancy can become swollen and stretched under the weight of your growing bump and baby. 

Another culprit for the cause of piles is constipation, which again many are affected by in pregnancy and after the birth of baby. 

Worry not though – piles can be managed and with some changes and support can shrink and disappear too:

If you are struggling with piles, it is important to:

  • Keep your stools soft and regular – ensure you are eating plenty of food that’s high in fibre.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid standing for any long periods of time
  • Improve your circulation with regular and gentle exercise
  • If your piles are sticking out, push them gently back inside
  • Clean your anus with moist toilet paper after passing a stool.

There are medicines that can help but it is essential that you discuss these with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist if they can suggest a suitable ointment to help ease the pain. 

Week 39 pregnancy tips

  • Meditations or having a good bedtime routine with self-care involved can help with some of the insomnia you may be experiencing.
  • If your sleep is broken by moving baby, needing to pee or just not being able to sleep at night – catch up during the day. An afternoon nap can really help with the tiredness.
  • If you are struggling with constipation at this stage in pregnancy – discuss it with your midwife and get some advice and support.