38 Weeks Pregnant - Symptoms, Baby Development, Tips - Babylist

38 Weeks Pregnant

May 16, 2019

38 Weeks Pregnant

38 Weeks Pregnant
38 Weeks Pregnant

Your baby is 19.6 inches long and weighs about 6.8 pounds this week. That’s about the size of a bowling pin.

Your Baby at 38 Weeks

  • Almost there: Your pregnancy will hit full term next week (you’re so close), which means your baby’s brain and lungs are just about ready to function on the outside. Fun fact: baby’s brain and lungs are the only major organs that continue to develop into childhood and beyond. All their other internal systems are good to go.
  • Voice: Your baby’s vocal cords have fully developed so they can be ready to communicate with you once they’re born (like those first cries when they come out!).
  • Big head: Babies are known for their adorably huge heads, which are a result of all the brain power baby develops in utero. At this point your baby’s head has about the same circumference as their abdomen does.

💛 Congratulations 💛

Only two weeks left!

Pregnancy Ultrasound Week 38

Photo by Tommy’s

Pregnancy Symptoms at 38 Weeks

  • Swelling: At this stage in your pregnancy, mild swelling is very common. But if you experience sudden swelling in the hands, feet, ankles and/or face, call your doc because it could be a sign of preeclampsia, a serious pregnancy condition.
  • Stress: Anxiety is also normal in late pregnancy and postpartum. Sometimes your brain feels like it’s running in overdrive, so much so that you may feel stressed or have trouble sleeping. Find an understanding friend or two to talk to about what you’re feeling, and start a few habits (like drinking a favorite decaf tea or listening to a calming tune) that will help you unwind. If it feels serious, talk to your doctor about it.
  • Contractions: You may be feeling Braxton Hicks contractions, a tightening or cramping feeling across your pregnant belly. For now, the contractions are sporadic, but when you’re in labor, they’ll happen increasingly
  • Back pain: A sore back is pretty standard for the 38th week of pregnancy. Your posture has changed significantly to accommodate your not-so-little passenger, and you’re hauling around all that extra weight. Be aware that back pain can be a sign you’ll go into labor soon.
  • Nausea: Feeling a little queasy? It could be due to the fact that baby’s crowding your digestive system. In some cases, tummy troubles can also be a sign of early labor.
  • Vaginal discharge: You might have an increase in regular discharge or you might notice the mucus plug comes out as your cervix starts to dilate in prep for delivery. A watery “discharge” could be amniotic fluid, so call your doc right away if that’s what you’re noticing.

Cervical Changes and Your Labor

One of the biggest signs of labor is changes to the cervix. During your late-pregnancy OB visits, your doctor will do pelvic exams to check how much your cervix is dilating and effacing, to get a sense of whether or not it’s prepping for deliver. So what exactly does that mean?

Dilation: Cervical dilation, or opening, needs to happen before you can birth your baby vaginally. Your cervix starts at 0 centimeters, or completely closed, and as your uterus contracts during labor, it pulls the cervix open more and more until the opening is 10 centimeters—about the size of a bagel. Even before you got pregnant, you probably heard “10 centimeters” as an important milestone in childbirth.

Effacing: While your cervix is dilating, it is also thinning, or effacing. Effacement is measured by a percentage with 0% being completely firm and 100% being completely paper thin.

For successful vaginal birth, your cervix will be 10 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced. Having those measurements is usually the signal it’s safe to push!

Your 38 Weeks Pregnant Belly

You’ve probably hit your total pregnancy weight gain goal for the 40 weeks, or you’re pretty darn close to it by now. You’re probably so over even talking about weight!

Your doctor will continue to check you out each week from now until you deliver. There may be some visual checks of your belly size (fundal height) to keep tabs on baby and the amniotic fluid level. If anything seems like it needs an extra check, your doctor could order an ultrasound either by itself or as part of a biophysical profile, in which baby’s movement, breathing, muscle tone, heart rate and amniotic fluid are evaluated.

Top Tip for 38 Weeks Pregnant

Feeling impatient? Try to relax and do some activities you enjoy while you wait it out. Remind yourself you get to meet your baby soon.

What to Expect During the First 72 Hours with Baby

By this point you may feel like you’ve spent so much time preparing for labor—doing things like taking childbirth class and packing your hospital bag—but do you know what happens right after the baby arrives?

Here are a few clear things to expect in the those early, bleary days.

When Does Breastfeeding Start?

This is pretty much the first thing that happens right after labor. (You can even start breastfeeding while you’re delivering your placenta, if you want.) So long as there are no health concerns, your baby will be placed on your chest and can start eating colostrum, or pre-milk right away. In the first day or two, baby will cry often to be fed colostrum; their sucking will encourage your breastmilk to come in. Breastfeeding can be tricky and will take practice to get right. Ask the lactation consultants at your hospital for guidance.

What Happens Before I Leave the Hospital?

Testing, Testing

Your newborn will have a few tests while still in the hospital. This may include:

  • Blood test: A small heel prick is used to gather a blood sample right after birth. You might not even notice it. What they’re testing for varies from state to state, but includes many rare but detectable conditions. (Find your specific state screening list here here.)
  • Hearing test: Usually the baby is taken to a separate room for a hearing test. This may be one of two types of tests: one that measures the hearing nerve’s response to sound, or one that measures the echo when specific sounds are played in baby’s ear.
  • Screening for congenital heart defects: For this, a sensor is placed on baby’s skin for a couple minutes to measure how much oxygen is is their blood.

Paperwork

If you’re on the fence about a baby name, figure it out fast because the hospital needs you to fill out the form that will become baby’s birth certificate and social security card before you leave.

Circumcision

If you’re having a boy and decide to have them circumcised, this will also happen before you leave the hospital.

When Can Baby and I Go Home?

If you have a vaginal delivery, you will probably be discharged within 48 hours, so long as all is well with you and your baby. If you have a c-section, you’ll be discharged within three to four days, so the hospital can watch to make sure you’re recovering well.

What Happens When We Get Home?

The first few days at home will probably be a blur of diaper changes (up to about 10 a day), snacks and sloppy naps. Newborns feed 8 to 12 times a day in the first week—and they sleep 17 to 18 hours a day in spurts around two hours long.

Be prepared for cluster feeding—this is when baby wants feedings back-to-back-to-back. It’s really exhausting and can be stressful, so read up on it. Getting through it will help boost your milk supply, so hang in there.

When your baby is about three or four days old, you will go back to the hospital or to your child’s pediatrician’s office for their first “well baby” visit. The baby will be weighed to make sure they’re feeding well (even though losing weight is normal in the first few days), and you will have time to ask the many, many questions that will come up along the way. (Keep a list you can add to as questions arise, and bring it with you, so you can remember everything despite the fog of sleep deprivation.)

Some call these early days and weeks the “tender time” because you, your baby and your life will likely feel very sweet (and tiring). Read up on our tips about managing visitors and remember to put your new family first and ask for the help you need.

Fun Fact

By the end of pregnancy, your placenta produces more estrogen every day than in a year when you aren’t pregnant.

Baby Bumps at 38 Weeks Pregnant

38 weeks pregnant belly @sabellas.littleworld

38 weeks 4 days pregnant @eleanorjadore

38 weeks pregnant nausea @ireeeeezy

38 weeks pregnant baby @kcruz012

38 weeks pregnant belly bump @foreverfitnurse

38 weeks pregnant pictures @annamariaport

38 weeks pregnant belly hard all day @misscmii

38 weeks pregnant belly baby girl @ptrainershonda

38 weeks pregnant baby position @keepdriving


Do you think this content is helpful? Let our editors know!


Week 38 Pregnancy Checklist

  • Go to your week 38 prenatal visit.
  • Schedule your week 39 visit while you’re there.
  • Get your house cleaned to cross one more thing off of your list.
  • Get a low-maintenance haircut.
  • Finalize your childcare plan and transition timeline.
This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Babylist may earn compensation from affiliate links in this content. Learn more about how we write Babylist content.