Welcome to week 38 of your pregnancy. During the last few weeks, your baby continues to grow, and you may feel that your belly is going to pop. Because your baby is growing and consuming so much energy, you may feel tired out. It can be a relief to recognize that the pregnancy process is coming to an end soon. Very soon, you will hold your baby in your arms.
38 weeks pregnant
Even though your due date is still a few weeks away, you may notice some changes in your body this week that indicate that you may be going into labor soon. Your baby is sitting pretty low in your pelvis, which increases the pressure in your lower abdomen. You may find it challenging to get into a comfortable position to sit, stand, and sleep now.
1. Braxton Hick’s contractions
You may be having these practice contractions for a few weeks now. These contractions will become more intense now. If these contractions aren’t painful and they go away when you shift position, these are still Braxton Hick’s contractions.
You may now be feeling anxious about labor and delivery. Your numerous aches and pains may also be keeping you up at night. Avoid drinking coffee later in the day, and remove all electronics from your bedroom.
3. Vaginal discharge
You may notice a thick glob of mucous this week. This thick discharge is the mucous plug that gets released when your cervix dilates in preparation for labor.
4. Frequent urination
As your baby descends into your pelvis, it increases the pressure on your bladder, making you go to the bathroom more often. Despite this, continue to drink water and stay hydrated.
5. Swelling in feet and ankles
You may also notice swelling in your feet and ankles now. Wearing a support hose can help reduce swelling. Put your feet up whenever you can. Take regular walks to keep the blood flowing and to reduce the swelling.
6. Leaky breasts
Your breasts are now producing colostrum, milk that is rich in nutrients. This milk is highly beneficial for your baby. If the wetness or yellow spots in your bra are making you uncomfortable, you can use absorbent breast pads.
7. Itchy belly
The growing size of your belly may stretch the skin and make it dry. Apply a moisturizer, or a vitamin E enriched cream to your belly.
Signs of labor
These are some of the signs that you may go into labor soon.
1. Vaginal discharge with blood
If you have thick vaginal discharge with a tinge of blood, it means your cervix is starting to dilate in preparation for birth.
Release of hormones called prostaglandins can lead to diarrhea. Diarrhea indicates that you may go into labor soon. Diarrhea is the body’s way to empty bowels to allow the uterus to contract efficiently.
Many women feel nauseous and may even vomit before their labor begins.
4. Back pain
Persistent lower back pain or abdominal pain are also signs of labor.
5. Water breaking
If you feel a trickle of water leaking out, it means your amniotic sac has ruptured, and labor will start soon.
If your belly starts tightening at regular intervals and doesn’t stop when you change position, you are in the early stages of labor.
Your body at week 38 of pregnancy
Your uterus now stretches out from your pubic area to your ribcage. As your baby’s head settles into your pelvis, you may feel an increased pressure in your lower abdomen. Your baby has much lesser room to move now, so you may not be able to feel him kicking or wiggling so much. At this stage, your baby may be putting pressure on various veins, which can lead to pain and numbness in your back and legs.
Your baby at week 38 of pregnancy
At week 38, your baby weighs between 6 ½ to 7 ½ pounds and is almost 20 inches long.
- Your baby’s brain and lungs are still maturing.
- Your baby is swallowing amniotic fluid. Some of this will wind up in the intestines and turn into his first bowel movement (meconium).
- Your baby is shedding lanugo, the fine hair that covered his body.
- Your baby is also losing vernix, the waxy substance that protected his body from the amniotic fluid.
- He has reached his birth length.
Tips to be followed at 38 weeks pregnant
1. Stay active
If you can, go out for a walk. You can stay active until the very end of your pregnancy. However, it is essential not to overdo it.
You shouldn’t sleep on your back after the 20th week of pregnancy. Sleeping on your side can lower your risk of stillbirth.
3. Get your hospital bag ready
Pack your hospital bag with all the essentials that you and your baby may need during the hospital stay. If you have already packed your bag, double-check to ensure that the clothes you had packed still fit you.
3. Wear comfortable clothing
Pregnancy hormones can increase the blood flow to the skin and boost metabolism, making you sweat more than usual. Wear cool and loose clothes, drink plenty of water, and crank up the AC.
4. Nesting instinct
You may get a sudden burst of energy and the desire to get the whole house cleaned and organized for the arrival of your baby. Try not to get overwhelmed with the organizing efforts, save up some of that energy for labor.
5. Emergency contact list
Keep a list of emergency contact numbers and your mobile phone ready for when the time arrives.
You can ease your anxiety by diverting your mind to some happy thoughts. Read a book, listen to music, or talk to your family members and friends.
Your week 38 of pregnancy doctor’s visit
During this visit, your doctor will check with you about your eating and sleeping habits. He will also check your weight and blood pressure. He will measure the height of the uterus to gauge your baby’s growth. He will also check to ensure that the baby is in a head-down position.
He will measure your baby’s heart rate and ask you about the frequency of your baby’s movements. Your doctor will also offer a pelvic exam to see if your cervix has thinned and opened.
Tips for the partner
Talk to your partner about her wishes about birth. Support her birth choices and let her know that you will communicate her feeling in the delivery room.
Plan and make sure you know the shortest route to the hospital. Ensure that you have the change for the parking. Make sure that your camera is fully charged and keep your phone with you at all times.
Your due date is a few weeks away, but you may be noticing some changes in your body that indicate that you may go into labor soon. Your baby weighs around 7 ½ pounds and has reached his birth length. His brain and lungs are still maturing. Continue to eat well- balanced nutritious meals and stay active. Wear comfortable clothing and sleep on your side. Pack your hospital bag and keep a list of emergency contact numbers ready.