Welcome to week 39
Are you planning to breastfeed? There's no disputing that breast milk is best for your baby: it's perfectly formulated to give your newborn all the necessary nutrients and passes immunity to your baby.
To breastfeed successfully, make sure you have everything you need to make you comfortable: some women find a footstool helps them bring their babies up to a good height for feeding and keeps their lower backs comfy. Some mums swear by breastfeeding cushions, others are happy to use a bed pillow to help keep the baby in a good position to feed. Your midwife will have lots of practical information on breastfeeding and breastfeeding workshops running in the hospital or local area. Read our feature on breastfeeding for beginners.
If you're planning to bottle feed your baby, this will be a perfectly adequate form of nourishment as long as you follow the manufacturer's instructions. Make sure you have all the necessary equipment: bottles and teats, a steriliser, bottle brushes and formula. For breastfeeders it's worth considering buying a breast pump, bottles and a steriliser to widen your options.
Your baby is almost at the average birth weight, weighing in this week at around 3.25kg (just over 7lb). The crown-to-rump measurement is about 36cm (almost 14.5in). There's not much more to say about life inside the womb, except that your baby's continuing to lay down fat stores in preparation for after the birth, and an upsurge in your hormones means the genitals are rather engorged in both sexes. This is perfectly normal and things will revert to normal shortly after birth.
On the outside
You probably won't have grown this week, and your uterus will be sitting at the same height as last week. If you haven't experienced Braxton-Hicks contractions yet, you might feel them from this week, although it's important at this stage to make sure that you're not actually having labour contractions. You can do this by recording the sensations: if they come regularly but don't increase in intensity, they're probably not the real thing; but if you notice that they come with increasing frequency and get more uncomfortable, you could be in true labour. Call your midwife for advice if you're unsure.
Things to think about
Have you had a practice with your baby equipment yet? It's well worth have a dummy run with everything, from feeding equipment like your steriliser to the baby monitor. Pushchairs can be particularly tricky to master, as can baby car seats. Practice strapping the car seat into the car before the birth. You don't want to be outside fiddling with the straps on your first journey home. You may feel quite flustered and unsure of yourself when it's time to leave the hospital, or when you venture out alone with your new baby for the first time, so do use the time you have left before the birth to familiarise yourselves with everything fully.
Some couples plan a 'babymoon' – which is a period of time spent with your partner and your baby, just the three of you. It could last for a day or so, or for as long as you want to keep your newborn to yourselves, but don't be surprised if friends and family find it hard to stay away: they're probably longing to see your baby. If you do fancy the idea, make sure you have all the supplies you and your baby will need and let friends and family know that you don't want to be disturbed, but that you'll be in touch shortly to make arrangements for them to visit.