pregnancy week 39

Now your feet have disappeared you probably find yourself bumping into things and stubbing your toes. Don’t worry, very soon you will be able to pedicure those nails again… You will probably have trouble performing simple tasks this week without huffing and puffing or having to sit down and rest every five minutes.

Your baby’s digestive system has matured enough to be able to take liquid foods and now is a good time to read up about breastfeeding or bottle-feeding to prepare yourself for the coming months. Most of the hair that has covered and protected your baby’s skin has fallen off and she will be born with pinky red skin. She is probably about 7lbs this week and continues to put down fat underneath her skin in preparation for life in the outside world.

Your due date is close now, but Babies go overdue all the time especially for first time mums. Current research shows that first time mothers gave birth on average five days after their due dates and second time mothers gave birth on average two days after their due dates. The reason that inductions happen is that there is an increase in problems for babies that go beyond 42 weeks.

This is because there is a very small percentage of babies who die or who are stillborn when the pregnancy exceeds 42 weeks. Doctors don’t know why this happens but feel that it is safer for the mother and the baby to induce labour before 42 weeks. In most pregnancies labour will start somewhere between 37 and 42 weeks and if you go over your due date you will be monitored very closely and will probably need to have weekly antenatal check-ups.

When and why might I need an induction?

An induction is usually recommended when it is felt your baby is better off outside of the womb than in. This may occur if your pregnancy is over 41 weeks, your waters break but labour does not start (your baby is at risk of infection once the waters break), or if you are suffering from a pregnancy related problem such as pre-cclampsia where the only cure for mum and baby is immediate delivery. Other reasons include poor growth of your baby or unexplained bleeding at term.

What happens in an induction?

When labour starts naturally your body makes a hormone called oxytocin which is released into the bloodstream and hormonal changes in the body start the process of labour. Nobody knows what the trigger is that starts labour spontaneously (or doesn’t start in some women) although lots of research has been dedicated to the subject. Inductions are when labour has to be started artificially and a synthetic form of oxytocin is administered to bring on labour.

Also read our features Am I in labour? and Signs that labour is close and, if you're still going, what happens at 40 weeks!

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