Week 39 – your third trimester

Will it be today? Tomorrow? Pregnancy normally lasts around 40 weeks and most women will go into labour a week either side of their due date. That means any time now!

We would love to know how you're getting on, so please get in touch through Start4Life's Facebook page. Good luck this week!

What's happening in my body?

Check your pants - you might be getting a lot more discharge than usual. This should be thin, white and not smell of very much. If you spot a slimy blob of mucus that's yellow or bloody, then that's a 'show'. This sticky stuff used to plug up your cervix and when it comes out, it can be one of the first signs that your baby's on the way. However don't grab your hospital bag just yet, as you could still have days to wait.

You may be getting back pain as your baby moves down your pelvis and starts head butting your spine. You'll probably feel increased pressure at the bottom of your bump now.

You could also be getting sudden bursts of energy and urgently want to fold baby clothes or tidy drawers that you haven't opened for years. That's your 'nesting' instinct kicking in!

9 signs you shouldn't ignore

If you get any of the following signs, then treat it as an emergency and call your midwife, doctor or NHS 111.

  1. Bleeding from your vagina.
  2. Brown or pink discharge.
  3. Severe itching, particularly at night.
  4. A terrible headache that won't go away.
  5. Vision problems (blurring, light sensitivity, seeing spots or flashing lights).
  6. Pain just below the ribs.
  7. Extreme swelling of the feet, ankles, hands and face.
  8. Persistent stomach pains.
  9. A high temperature (above 37.5 degrees C) with no other flu or cold symptoms.

Tell us about your pregnancy!

We hope you're having a happy pregnancy. Please contact us through Start4Life's Facebook page and let us know. Have you found this website useful? Do you have any tips for other mums? Send us a picture, as we'd love to see you with your bump or your baby!

7 things you might not expect when your baby's born…

  1. Babies don't usually come out wailing, like they do in the films – it could take a few seconds before they cry or splutter to clear their airways.

  2. Your baby will be checked out with a minute of being born. You might not be aware of it, as you'll be meeting your baby at the same time. Your baby will be rated on the Apgar scale for their heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, responsiveness and skin colour. This will be rechecked at five minutes.

  3. Your baby's hands and feet might be blue, as their circulation is still a work in progress. The rest of their skin will be dark red or purple, then turn a brighter red when they take their first breath. It can take weeks before their true skin colour is revealed. If your baby's rubbed vigorously with a towel, this doesn't mean that there's a problem, it's probably just to help the blood flow.

  4. It can take a few minutes before your baby's breathing regularly. They tend to do lots of fast breaths… then lots of slow breaths. The gap between breaths can be as long as five seconds. They're beginners at breathing – this is normal!

  5. Boys can be born with giant testicles – that's just temporary, caused by hormones and water retention. They will settle down and look more in proportion soon.

  6. It's not always love at first sight. Give yourself time to bond with your baby and ask for help if you need it.

  7. You'll still look pregnant for a while – it can take six weeks for your womb to go back to the size it was, and even longer to lose any extra weight. Breastfeeding is a great way to get your body back, as it burns around 300 calories a day, and helps your womb to shrink more quickly. Also try to eat healthily and take gentle exercise.

You can find out more here about what happens when your baby's born.

Third trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 39 weeks)

You could be getting a lot of practice contractions, but if they start getting painful, then they could be the real deal. Read these '5 signs that baby's on the way'.

Phone your hospital or midwife when your contractions last for at least 60 seconds and come every 5 minutes – or call any time if you're worried that something is wrong, such as if your baby stops moving or if you're losing blood.

Your signs of pregnancy could also include:

Tommy's the baby charity has produced a pregnancy guide with a further list of symptoms.

What does my baby look like?

Your baby, or foetus, is around 50.7cm long from head to heel, and weighs about 3.3kg. That's approximately the length of five courgettes and the weight of a mini watermelon.

A few weeks ago, your baby's skin was almost transparent but now they're growing a tougher new layer that's looks more solid. This is better at protecting their internal organs and helping with temperature control.

The skin will be coated in a white, waxy substance called vernix, which means 'varnish' in Latin. This creamy layer helps to protect their skin and eases your baby down the birth canal. Your baby could come out covered it in, or it could be mostly gone by the time they emerge – you'll just have to wait and see!

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Action stations

Be on full alert in case your waters break, as this could happen at any time. Don't expect a tidal wave, as it could be just a trickle. If you think you've got a leak, then call your midwife or doctor and ask for advice. You might have just wet yourself, but if your waters have broken, then you may need to be induced as your baby will be at a greater risk of infection.

This week you could also...

You're probably on leave now. Find out how much leave and pay you're entitled to.

It’s a good time to tone up those muscles ‘down under’. Gentle exercises can help to prevent leakage when you laugh, sneeze, cough or jump around on your future baby’s trampoline. Get the muscles going by pretending that you’re having a wee and then stop the ‘urine’ in midflow.

Do your best to stop smoking, give up alcohol and go easy on the cappuccinos. We know that’s easy to say, but hard to do. Ask your midwife or GP for support.

During the winter, consider taking a daily dose of the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D. It’s recommended that you take 10 micrograms every day when you’re pregnant and breastfeeding. Find out if you’re entitled to free vitamins.

Get moving! It’s recommended that pregnant women do 150 minutes of exercise throughout the week. Perhaps take a brisk walk in the park, or go for a swim. Don’t overdo it though, particularly in these last few weeks - listen to your body.

Don’t eat for two! Eat for you. Now you’re in the third trimester, you may need an extra 200 calories a day, but that’s not much. It’s about the same as two slices of wholemeal toast and margarine.

Try to eat healthily, with plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and avoid processed, fatty and salty foods. You may be able to get free milk, fruit and veg through the Healthy Start scheme.

How are you today? If you’re feeling anxious or low, then talk to your midwife or doctor who can point you in the right direction to get all the support that you need. You could also discuss your worries with your partner, friends and family. You may be worried about your relationship, or money, or having somewhere permanent to live. Don’t bottle it up – you’re important, so ask for help if you need it!

Getting pregnant again is probably the last thing on your mind! However now is a good time to start planning what type of contraception you would like to use after your baby is born. Making this decision when you’re pregnant will give you one less thing to think about when you’re looking after a newborn baby. Getting pregnant again could happen sooner than you realise and too short a gap between babies is known to cause problems. Talk to your GP or midwife to help you decide and get everything in place.

This week's treat

Get back to nature and do something in the great outdoors. Go and kick leaves in the park, walk in the woods, water your garden or plant some seeds (use gloves to avoid the risk of infection). This is good exercise and will encourage your brain to release 'feel good' chemicals so that you'll feel great too. Plus it could just coax your baby into making an appearance… fingers crossed!

Go back to week 38

Go to week 40

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