You and Your Baby at Week 38 of Your Pregnancy

(10 minute read)

You and Your Baby at Week 38 of Your Pregnancy

Week 38

At 38 weeks, your baby is considered "full term" and is ready to be born, however you may still have to wait another couple of weeks or so...

Your Week 38 Antenatal Appointment

Around week 38 is when you are due another antenatal appointment. At this appointment, your doctor or midwife will:

  • measure the size of your bump
  • take your blood pressure
  • check for protein in your urine which could be a sign of pre-eclampsia

How Big is Baby at 38 Weeks?

At 38 weeks, your baby is now ready to greet the world. Typically, babies are now about 50cm in length (or about the length of a stick of rhubarb) and weigh around 6.5 to 7.5 pounds, or 3 to 3.4kg. However, it's important to note that these are average figures, and babies can vary in size. The incredible growth that your baby has undergone is about to culminate in their birth.

The "lanugo", or fine hair that has been covering your baby, is mostly gone now - however, some babies are born with patches of it here and there.

Your baby is now storing up some "meconium", or sticky green slime, which is the result of all the amniotic fluid and hair that they have swallowed. This will eventually come out as your baby's first poo.


Most babies will, by now, have moved into a head-down position in preparation for birth. If your baby is in the "breech" position (head up), your doctor or midwife may discuss options with you, such as a cephalic version, which is where they manipulate your bump using their hands to encourage the baby to turn. It is not always successful, and in any case there is nothing to worry about as some babies don't turn, or "engage", until labour has started.

Your Body at 38 Weeks Pregnant

Week 19 Fetus (24)

You can expect more pronounced physical changes during the 38th week. These include further swelling of the feet and ankles, increased breast size as they prepare for lactation, and possibly more pronounced varicose veins due to increased blood volume and pressure on your lower body.


Braxton Hicks Contractions

"Braxton Hicks" contractions (practice contractions) are likely to become more frequent now. These are your body's way of preparing for labour, though they are not a sign that labour has begun. These contractions are typically irregular and do not increase in intensity. They are uncomfortable but not painful.


The Nesting Instinct

Many women experience a burst of energy known as the nesting instinct. You might feel a strong urge to clean, organise, and prepare your home for the baby. While it's essential to get your space ready, remember to rest and conserve energy for labour.


Emotional Changes

Emotionally, you may feel a mix of excitement, anxiety, and anticipation. Concerns about labour, thoughts about motherhood, and changes in your relationship dynamics can all contribute to emotional turbulence. It's important to communicate your feelings and seek support when needed.


Symptoms at Week 38

During week 38, you might experience a range of symptoms, including:

  • Increased Vaginal Discharge: This is normal and might include the loss of your mucus plug, a sign that your body is preparing for labour.
  • Heartburn and Indigestion: As your uterus presses against your stomach, these symptoms can persist or worsen, especially if your baby hasn't "engaged" yet.
  • Difficulty Sleeping: Finding a comfortable sleeping position can be challenging due to the size of your belly and other symptoms like leg cramps or back pain.
  • Frequent Urination: The baby's position may put extra pressure on your bladder.
  • Pelvic Pressure: As the baby drops lower into your pelvis, you might feel increased pressure or discomfort.
  • Fatigue: Increased fatigue is common as your body supports the substantial energy demands of late pregnancy.


Monitoring Your Baby's Movements

Continue to monitor your baby's movements. While there may be less room for your baby to move, you should still feel regular movements. Any significant decrease in movement should be reported to your doctor or midwife immediately.


Preparing for Labour

This is a good time to review your birth plan and discuss any last-minute concerns with your doctor or midwife. Ensure you understand the signs of labour, such as regular contractions, water breaking, and lower back pain that radiates to the abdomen.


Tips for Comfort

To alleviate discomfort during this time, consider the following tips:

  • Practice good posture and use support cushions when sitting.
  • Stay hydrated and eat small, frequent meals to help with digestion issues.
  • Engage in gentle exercises, like walking or prenatal yoga, if approved by your doctor.
  • Take warm baths or showers to relieve muscle tension.
  • Get plenty of rest and sleep when you can.


Preparing for the Hospital

Make sure your hospital bag is packed with essentials like clothes for you and the baby, toiletries, a birth plan, snacks, and any documents you might need. Also, plan your route to the hospital and have a backup plan in case of unexpected circumstances.


Week 38 is a time of excitement and anticipation as you near the end of your pregnancy. It's a period filled with physical, emotional, and preparatory activities. Not long to go now, before you will be bringing a new life into the world!

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