Cramping when 39 Weeks Pregnant

If you are 39 weeks pregnant cramping is not unusual. Your baby will be here any day, and your body is getting ready for labor. Cramping anytime during pregnancy can be worrisome, even if it is at the end. It is most often practice contractions known as, “Braxton Hicks.” Sometimes, it is actual labor. There are also a few complications that may cause cramping at 39 weeks, but these are not common. This article will explain why cramping happens at this time in normal situations, symptoms of actual labor, and some of the complications that may cause this to happen. There are also some helpful tips to help you get comfortable, and when you should contact your doctor.


What’s the Cramping in 39 Weeks Pregnancy?

In a normal and uncomplicated pregnancy, cramping at 39 weeks is not at all unusual. This is often the uterus gearing up for labor. Cramping is most often a sign that labor will begin soon, and baby could come at any time. There is much going on in the last few weeks to prepare your body to deliver your baby. Behind the scenes your uterus is contracting and getting your cervix ripened and ready to open up. Not to mention, baby is outgrowing his or her little nest.

Here are some of the causes of cramping when you are 39 weeks pregnant:

Normal Causes: 

  1. 1. Braxton Hicks Contractions

When you are 39 weeks pregnant cramping may be caused by Braxton Hicks. You may not have noticed, but these practice contractions have been going on almost your entire pregnancy. They just increase in intensity as you get closer to your due date. These contractions are just the uterus giving itself a workout, getting stronger, and getting your body ready to deliver your baby. They tend to be irregular, last for up to a minute and don’t have a pattern.

At 39 weeks, it’s really hard to tell if this is the “real deal,” but there are some clues that is may just be “false labor.” The signs you are having Braxton Hicks include:

    • Cramping that only occurs during the contraction
    • They start up, then go away for hours to even days
    • They get weaker, instead of stronger
    • An irregular pattern. For example; one at 1 minute, then 5 minutes until the next, then 3 minutes to the next)
    • No other symptoms of labor beginning

Braxton Hicks contractions can be frustrating for mom’s because when they start, you may think you are really in labor. Then, they begin to taper off and stop completely. This can send you to the hospital and back home at least a few times in the last weeks of pregnancy.

  1. 2. Lightening

When your baby drops deep into your pelvis it is called, “lightening.” Your baby has grown to the size he or she will be at delivery and this is heavy on the pelvic muscles. This can cause cramping and low back pain in the last one to two weeks of pregnancy.

  1. 3. Ripening of the Cervix

Up until now, your cervix has been firm, and tightly closed. By 39 weeks, your baby is most likely head down, pressing against your cervix. This causes chemicals to be released that helps to ripen, and soften it, preparing it for labor. This process is known as, effacement. Effacement causes period-like cramping, and a signal that true labor is getting very close.

  1. 4. Labor and Dilation

Babies can come anytime after the end of 37 weeks. If you have cramping at 39 weeks, you may truly be in labor. Cramping without contractions may be an early sign that labor is imminent. Cramping with contractions in early labor may be a sign that your cervix is beginning to dilate.

Causes That Are Abnormal:

In a few rare instances at 39 week cramping may signal a problem. If you are not in active labor, and experience cramping that starts suddenly it could be:

  1. 1. Dehydration or Infection

Later in pregnancy, the uterus can become very sensitive to changes in your body. When the cervix is going through the ripening process, things like dehydration or even an infection can cause lower abdominal cramping and pain. False labor often occurs because you have too little fluids in your body. It can also occur due to infections in the lower abdomen or vagina.

  1. 2. Abruption of Placenta

This is a medical emergency. Rarely, your placenta can become separated from the uterine wall. This causes oxygen and nutrients to be cut off from baby. At 39 weeks pregnant cramping that comes on suddenly may be a sign there is a problem with the placenta. This can happen due to; preeclampsia and high blood pressure, mothers who are smokers, previous cesarean section delivery, or other illnesses.

Know the Signs of Labor

Normal cramping at 39 weeks that is a sign of early labor, will have other telltale symptoms along with it. You may have one or more of these other signs:

  • Nesting, cleaning, or fixing up the nursery
  • Low back pain
  • Increasingly regular contractions
  • Loss of mucus plug
  • Bloody show
  • Frequent urination (baby’s head is against bladder)
  • Frequent bowel movements or diarrhea
  • Feeling very sleepy

If you do have any of these signs with cramping, you might want to make sure your hospital bag is ready, and that your partner knows how you’re feeling. It may be almost time to head to the hospital! 

Helpful Tips for Cramping at 39 Weeks

Mild cramping at 39 weeks without contractions or abnormal signs can easily be relieved at home. It may just be a sign that you did too much that day, and were maybe on your feet too long. Try these tips to get some relief:

A Warm Bath

If your water has not yet broken, you can try soaking in a warm bathtub. This will help to relax your muscles and calm you. You can even add ½ cup Epsom salts to your bathwater for extra soothing relief.

Go For A Walk

If cramping is a sign of early labor and contractions are not starting, you can go for a walk around your house or neighborhood. Just take someone with you, your phone, and stay close to home in case something starts up. Gravity can help move things along nicely in the early stages of labor.

 Try Tennis Balls

If cramping goes around to your lower back, have someone roll tennis balls on your lower back. This can help massage sore muscles in your lower back, and divert your attention from the cramping.

When To Contact Your Doctor

If your water breaks, or you have 39 weeks pregnant cramping with any signs of labor listed above, give your doctor a call for instructions on what to do. If you have any of the following signs, call 9-1-1, or get to the hospital right away:

  • Cramping with bright red bleeding
  • You feel dizzy, your vision blurs, and you have a severe headache
  • Fever over 100.4℉
  • You don’t feel your baby move after two hours
  • Very sudden stabbing pain in your lower abdomen

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