38 Weeks Pregnant

38 Weeks Pregnant: Your Baby's Development

Your little one is close to making his debut, but he’s still making the most of each day and is busy growing and developing. For example, in these final few weeks, his brain is still growing. In fact, his brain can grow as much as one third in size in the time when you’re 35 to 39 weeks pregnant. You knew he was a genius! His little liver is nearly fully developed at this time, too. After your baby is born, his first few bowel movements will actually be a substance called meconium. This greenish-black, sticky form of poop starts to build up in his intestines while he’s still in the womb, and is formed from waste materials such as dead skin cells and lanugo, the fine body hair that's starting to be shed. Even though your estimated due date is still a couple of weeks away, you may start to notice some signs of labor approaching, and your baby could arrive any day now. In fact, only about 4 percent of moms-to-be deliver exactly on their due date. Twins and other multiples are more likely to be born preterm than a single baby, so keep an eye out for signs of labor if you’re 38 weeks pregnant with twins.


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The Size of the Fetus at 38 Weeks Pregnant

At 38 weeks, the average fetus is about the size of a bunch of rhubarb, probably weighing around 6 1/2 pounds. This illustration can give you a general idea of how your baby may be positioned at 38 weeks:

Mom's Body at 38 Weeks Pregnant

At 38 weeks pregnant, you may still be gaining weight, believe it or not. If you had a normal body mass index (BMI) before you were pregnant, it’s likely that you’ll put on between half a pound and one pound per week during the third trimester. Your ever-growing belly might be getting in the way of a good night’s sleep (and normal movement) these days, but the end is in sight now! To find out more about your estimated weight gain in these final few weeks, take a look at our pregnancy weight gain calculator. Some moms-to-be find that getting regular exercise is more difficult at this point. If this is the case for you, you might want to focus on breathing exercises to help get you ready for labor. Not only do these exercises help you relax and de-stress, but they also come in handy for helping to manage the pain and discomfort of labor.

38 Weeks Pregnant: Your Symptoms

At 38 weeks pregnant, here are some of the symptoms you may be experiencing:

  • Frequent urination. As your baby and uterus grow, they’re putting more pressure on your bladder, so you may need to go to the bathroom more often. Even though those extra bathroom visits are a hassle, keep drinking plenty of water to stay well hydrated.

  • Pelvic pressure. You and your baby are getting ready for labor in many different ways, and you may feel this in the pelvic area, too. When your baby drops lower into your pelvis, you may feel increased pressure on your pelvis, bladder, and hips. Because your body is producing a hormone called relaxin, which softens the ligaments, muscles, and joints in preparation for childbirth, you might also experience some back or pelvic pain, especially as you get closer to your due date. Try to stay off your feet as much as possible, move slowly and carefully, and soak in a warm bath if you’re feeling uncomfortable.

  • Swollen ankles and feet. Your body will produce and retain more fluid than usual, and as a result, you may notice swelling (known as edema) in your hands and legs. To combat this, try to rest with your feet up, drink more water to help flush out excess fluid, and wear loose clothes and shoes so you feel a little more comfortable. Some moms-to-be find that wearing support hose or stockings can also help reduce swelling and discomfort. If you notice any sudden swelling in your face or hands, contact your healthcare provider, as this could be a sign of a blood pressure condition called preeclampsia.

  • Nausea. Some slight nausea can crop up again at 38 weeks pregnant or in the following weeks, and it can sometimes be a sign that labor is starting. If you’re feeling queasy, try to eat several smaller meals throughout the day, and stick to bland foods like bananas, rice, or toast.

  • Contractions. At 38 weeks pregnant, you may have already felt Braxton Hicks contractions. These practice contractions usually occur irregularly and will often stop when you move or change positions. On the other hand, true labor contractions will come at regular intervals, getting closer together over time. They’ll increase in strength and intensity, and they often start from the back and move to the front of your abdomen. Timing your contractions will give you more information about whether you’re experiencing the real deal or just more Braxton Hicks. Want to hear about what contractions actually feel like? Get the scoop from other moms who have been in your shoes.

38 Weeks Pregnant: Things to Consider

38 Weeks Pregnant: Ask Your Doctor

  • Is there anything you can do from here on out to prepare for labor?

  • Is it safe to have sex during the final weeks of pregnancy?

  • What is recommended if your baby is in a breech position?

  • Under what conditions might it be necessary to induce labor, and how common is inducing labor at 38 weeks pregnant?

  • Who should you call if you think you may be in labor? Should you call straight away or wait for something specific?

  • Can you still breastfeed if you’ve had breast implants or other breast surgery?

  • How soon can you start breastfeeding after giving birth?

  • If things go well, how soon after you give birth are you likely to be discharged from the hospital?

38 Weeks Pregnant: Your Checklist

  • If you haven’t already had it, ask your healthcare provider when you will have the Group B strep test. This routine test checks whether you carry the GBS bacteria so your provider can give you the appropriate course of treatment if the test result is positive and you plan to give birth vaginally.

  • You may have already started packing your hospital bag, but you might not have been able to pack things you’re still using, like your phone charger and toothbrush. Make a list of these items or go through our downloadable hospital bag checklist, so you or your partner can throw the last few items in the bag before you go to the hospital.

  • If you haven’t done so already, have your baby’s car seat installed so it’s ready to bring your baby home safe and sound.

  • As your due date nears, you may want to check out our free online childbirth education classes – there are nine videos you can watch anytime.

  • Check out the best baby gear as voted by Pampers Parents. If you’re planning to breastfeed you may be interested in products like the best nursing bras and the best breast pumps, or if you plan to formula feed you might like to check out Pampers Parents reviews of the best baby formulas.

  • Take some time to pamper and care for yourself – you may not have this kind of “spare time” for some time once your baby is born. For example, you may like to do things like getting a haircut, or going for a pampering pedicure.

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