Welcome to the final stage of your pregnancy, the ninth month. In this article, you will learn the signs that show you might be having labor. This last part of your third trimester has five weeks. When you give birth in this month, it will not be termed ‘pre-mature’ as the baby is fully developed. Read on to know how your baby prepares for this big day.
Week 36 of your pregnancy
Though by this week, you baby could weigh about six pounds and measure about 199 inches long (crown to heel), this is just an estimate. Your baby will be gaining about half a pound weekly and will continue to store fat. The neck and wrist will continue to increase as the week progresses.
There is a kind of contraction called Braxton Hicks contraction, it’s an intermittent weak contraction of the uterus that occurs during pregnancy. During this week, you may occasionally feel this contraction of the womb. You will need to pay frequent visit to your health practitioner for regular check-up during this time. To see if your cervix has begun to soften, dilate or if the baby’s head is dropping into the pelvic, you will need to have regular internal examinations.
In this week, your baby is almost ready to be born. Your baby would have begun forming real kidney and the liver has begun processing wastes. The lung is still maturing and will be the last major organ to be fully developed.
Your baby would have dropped in the birth canal by now. If this is not your first baby, then this ‘dropping’ might not occur until your labor period. Your doctor or medical practitioner may refer to this process as ‘being engaged’. That is, your baby is now engaged. A quick scan will show your baby head down or butt down (breech). Your baby will maintain this position until birth date.
In this week, you might experience frequent urination as the baby is now on top of your bladder. You will notice less movement by your baby in this period. When he or she moves, it will be to roll from side to side.
Week 37 of your pregnancy
Your baby is growing rapidly. Keep up with the exercise, especially the kegels. Keeping your pelvic muscle flexible from this point will help you during labor and quicken the recovery process. During this week, you might start noticing visual confirmation of your baby right from your stomach. A foot, elbow or the head may protrude from the stomach whenever the baby stretches or squirms.
Your baby would have started developing daily activity cycles as the uterus becomes thinner and letting in more light.
Even though you are few weeks to your delivery day, you are now considered to be ‘at term’. From this week, when labor starts, nothing can be done to stop it (even if it is before the 40 weeks mark). You may notice frequent vaginal discharge or mucus.
Week 38 of your pregnancy
Your baby has finished developing. The lungs and kidney are fully matured. Your baby’s main job is gaining weight in preparation for the big day. The fat stored (about 28 grams daily) will be used to regulate its temperature after birth. Your baby is still covered in amniotic acid. The quantity of the amniotic acid might not seem much but wait until your water breaks; it will feel like your night shower.
The hair on your baby is fully-grown. Most of the lanugo covering your baby would have disappeared by now. In addition, the whitish substance that covers your baby (vernix caseosa) is almost gone. You might see a few of it on your baby’s upper back and shoulders when he is born.
Your baby will still be swallowing amniotic fluid, lanugo and other secretions. Most of these substances will be stored in his bowel for later discharge. This discharge is called meconium and your baby’s intestine will be filled with this substance.
Your first baby movement will consist of this substance called meconium. If there is any bowel movement at birth, your medical care provider will make sure that the lungs are properly suctioned.
By the end of this week, your baby would weigh about seven to eight pounds and measure 20 inches from crown to heel. You are at the final stage of your pregnancy. You may need to watch your weight at this point. Maintain it at 25-30 pounds until you deliver.
Week 39 of your pregnancy
You are now very close to the delivery date. Just some few days left. You may need to start keeping track of your baby’s activity and do a kick count from time to time. If your baby stops moving for a long period, call your doctor or any health practitioner.
At this week, your baby is considered full term. You can give birth any time from now. Labor that occurs in this period is not labeled ‘premature birth’. When you give birth, your baby’s umbilical cord will stop working. As your baby draws its first breath outside of the uterus, this will trigger the heart to force blood to the lungs.
Week 40 of your pregnancy
In this week, you might feel overly sensitive, impatient and irritable. Make sure you have packed your bag and ready to hit the hospital whenever it’s time. During this period, anything you feel or experience in your body should be communicated to your doctor.
4 Crucial signs your labor may be starting:
- Frequent contractions that comes and goes. Mostly these contractions stays longer and occurs in a close interval
- Any contraction that is not influenced by activity or hormonal changes
- A drop or long flow of fluid from your vagina
- A sudden, rhythmic backache
Congratulations! You’ve made it.
Wishing you safe delivery…
Also Read: 10 Frequently Asked Questions About Labor