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Pregnancy Week 39

Having grown almost 1/2 a size since the previous week, the baby in pregnancy week 39 is about 7 1/2 pounds and around 21 1/2 inches long. During week 39, fetal monitoring can come in quite handy in helping determine weather there is any sign of fetal distress during labor. When the uterus contracts, the amount of oxygen rich blood that reaches the placenta dramatically reduces. Although this is a natural and usually unproblematic event, complications can arise. There are two types of fetal monitors; internal and external. The internal monitor calls for a slip of electrode to be implanted into the babyís skull while it is still in the womb, and would require that the motherís water breaks before any signs of distress can be examined. The external monitor fits like a fanny pack over the mothers abdomen and works like a type of ultrasounds. At this point, most of the vernix covering the babyís skin has dispersed and there is not much lanugo left. The baby will soon pass itís first meconium, or bowel movement, after birth.

When the baby isnít progressing through the birth canal by the time labor has been induced, the doctor may introduce forceps. Forceps are a tool that look like tongs and are used to clasp the babyís head inside the vagina and help pull it out. Risks are minimal when the procedure is done carefully and expertly but do include bruising, inflammation, and more seriously, internal bleeding in the skull. Sometimes an episiotomy is used and the vaginal area may be numbed. If the uterus is not contracting well enough to push the baby out, and forceps are not an option, the doctor may use what is called a vacuum extractor. This lightly sucks the babyís head towards the end of the birth canal. The bones in the babyís skull are fully developed, however, they have some pieces missing to allow the head to compress in order to fit through the birth canal. The bones may slide over each other and overlap during delivery.

Pregnancy Week 38 | Pregnancy Week 40

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