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38 Weeks Pregnant

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Your Baby

Check out what happened with your baby's development last week.

Any day now. Your baby is now considered to be full-term, even though your official due date is still two weeks away. Eighty-five percent of babies are born within two weeks of their due date, so you'll probably give birth sometime in the next four weeks. That doesn't necessarily mean you should drop everything and wait for labor to start—your little one may decide he'd rather stay put for a while.

Surface changes. While you're watching for signs of labor, your baby is shedding lanugo, the fine hair that's covered his body for months. He may have some of it left on his shoulders, forehead, and neck when he's born. He'll also have lost most, if not all, of the vernix, the creamy wax-like substance that's protected his skin from the amniotic fluid.

Waste management. So what happens to the cast-off vernix and lanugo? Some of it ends up in your baby's intestines, where it becomes part of the meconium. Meconium is the greenish-black, tarry substance that will make up your baby's first bowel movement after he's born. It also consists of dead cells, amniotic fluid, and waste products from your baby's liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. Your baby's kidneys are filtering some waste too, but they won't be functioning fully until after birth.

Slowing down. Your little one's growth rate is losing speed, but he's still making strides: His length is probably closing in on 19.5 to 20 inches, and his weight is nearing 7 pounds.

Your Pregnancy

Water works. As your baby grows, she puts more and more pressure on your bladder, which is now squashed flat as a pancake. You may be making more trips to the bathroom than you ever thought possible! As inconvenient as it may seem, keep drinking water to stay well hydrated. Park a large bottle of water next to you so you can cut down on trips to the kitchen (and save your energy for hikes to the bathroom).

Get into position. It's time to go over your notes from childbirth class and think about which position you'll want to labor in. Some women prefer to stand through contractions, while some find that getting on their hands and knees helps. Others spend a lot of time in a rocking chair. It's helpful to practice the different positions now—you and your partner may not remember all your options when the big day comes. For more suggestions on staying comfortable during labor and birth, read Comfort Measures.

The safe ride home. Have you purchased an infant car seat yet? If not, get thee to a store! You must have a rear-facing seat installed so you can safely (and legally) transport your baby home from the hospital. Remember: Only 5 percent of babies are born on their due date, so this is definitely one instance where it's best to plan ahead. For more information on choosing an infant car seat, click here.

From the experts. You may not be hungry once you begin labor, but if you are, you should stick with light choices. "Some women experience nausea caused by their pain medication or by the mere intensity of labor. If their stomach is full, the nausea may lead to vomiting," says Elaine Zwelling, R.N., Ph.D. "The best foods to snack on are those that contain no fat and are therefore quickly digested, like plain pasta, toast, and clear broths." For more information from Dr. Zwelling on eating during labor, click here.


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