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38 Weeks Pregnant: What's Going On

Pregnancy week 38

Your baby is shedding body hair and getting rid of vernix, the waxlike substance that protects the skin. Meanwhile, you're probably watching for signs of labor. Get the details on pregnancy week 38.

Your Baby at 38 Weeks Pregnant

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.

Surface changes. 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's also losing vernix, the creamy waxy 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.

Applying the brakes. Your little one's growth rate may be slowing down, 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 at 38 Weeks

Water works. As your baby grows, she puts more and more pressure on your bladder. Despite it being squashed flat, you should keep drinking water to stay hydrated.

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 may not remember all your options when the big day comes.

The safe ride home. You need to install a rear-facing seat so you can safely (and legally) transport your baby home from the hospital. Remember that only 5 percent of babies are born on their due date, so it's best to get this done well before the time.

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Anxiously waiting

Treis 1/29/2016

Can't wait for the big day! it's really nice to have this week to week review of how the baby is growing. Super cool

Signs of Labor: How to Read Your Body’s Signals

The big day is coming up soon, and you may be wondering how you'll know when labor has begun. Luckily, your body will likely provide some pretty good signals. Find out more about labor signs.

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Elaine Zwelling, R.N., Ph.D.