Pregnancy Week 39 / Third Trimester

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Week 39

What happens to you?

There are other ways that your body prepares for labor.  The baby will descend into your pelvis, which is sometimes called engagement or lightening.  This usually happens before labor in first-time moms, but with subsequent births it doesn't happen until sometime during labor.

Your cervix, which is the mouth of your uterus, will begin to soften and possibly dilate (open up).  Some doctors will do routine vaginal exams towards the end of pregnancy, and they will be able to give you details of how much your cervix has dilated, if at all.  Some practitioners will also strip the membranes (break your water) in an attempt to "get things going."  If you do not want labor brought on early in this way, tell your practitioner before any pelvic exams.

In the days before labor begins you may also experience the following, although they do not necessarily predict when labor will begin:

   -Bloody show
   -Loss of mucous plug
   -Loose stools
   -Loss of weight
   -Increase in appetite

What happens to the baby?

Did you know that the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby is continually replaced every three hours, even during labor?  Not only is it the perfect environment for the baby, but your baby can practice breathing by inhaling the amniotic fluid.

The meconium (bowel movement) in the baby's intestines will be shed as the first movement that the bowels make after birth.  Meconium is a black, thick, tarry substance.  About 30% of the time, the baby will actually pass this stool before birth.  This can cause problems if the baby swallows the meconium, although this is a very unusual circumstance.

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