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Pregnancy at week 39

5-minute read

Your baby

Your baby’s weight gain will probably slow down now because they are almost ready to be born. Although, they’re continuing to develop rapidly within your uterus.

The most significant developments now are happening in your baby’s head. Their brain is growing very quickly. It's about 30% bigger than last month, and it will keep growing really fast during their first 3 years of life. That's why their head is one-third of their total weight.

They will have a lot of fat underneath their skin and they will be covered in creamy white vernix.

Your body

Your cervix will be getting thinner in preparation for the birth. It will gradually soften and open until it is 10cm wide. You may have a lot of vaginal discharge and you may also get a ‘show’ – this is the plug of mucus that was keeping your cervix closed. This is all part of the first stage of labour.

Sometimes a ‘show’ looks like a little old blood mixed in with mucus, but if you notice you’re bleeding it’s important to call the doctor or midwife straight away since it could be the sign of something more serious.

Your placenta has been growing rapidly along with your baby and can weigh as much as 1kg. After your baby is born, you will need to birth your placenta. This is called the third stage of labour. This stage of labour can be managed in different ways. Talk to your doctor or midwife about your birth preferences.

Things to remember

Most women won’t need any more ultrasounds now. But if you have complications, such as gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia, or if you are having multiple babies, or concerned that your baby isn’t moving normally, your doctor or midwife may recommend doing an ultrasound to check that everything is okay.

Unless your doctor or midwife has told you otherwise, you should stay at home as long as you can when labour starts. Try to rest as much as possible during early labour. When your contractions becomes more intense and there is less than 3 to 5 minutes between them, or if you are not coping at home, it’s time to go to your chosen place of birth.

Make sure you have everything packed for going to hospital – clothes, toiletries and sanitary pads for you, and clothes and nappies for your baby.

If you’re planning to have the baby at home, make sure you have lots of clean towels and sheets, a large plastic sheet to cover the birthing area and enough drinks and snacks for you and your support person. The midwife will bring most of the equipment needed for the birth.

Resources and support

Speak to your doctor, midwife or obstetrician if you have questions about your pregnancy.

Pregnancy, Birth and Baby also has more information on:

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

NEXT WEEK...YOUR PREGNANCY AT WEEK 40 — Learn about your pregnancy journey and what is happening to you and your baby.

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Last reviewed: August 2023

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