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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 from week 35 to week 39 of your pregnancy.
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.
Mom’s Body at 38 Weeks Pregnant
If you’re wondering how many months along you are at 38 weeks pregnant, you’re in either your ninth or tenth month, because the weeks of pregnancy don’t necessarily fit neatly into months.
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 your labor.
Not only do these exercises help you relax and distress, but they also come in handy for managing the pain and discomfort of labor.
38 Weeks Pregnant: Your Symptoms
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.
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.
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.
Your Baby at Week 38
Not Long Now!
Your little one isn’t quite so little anymore, weighing about seven pounds and measuring 20 inches in length, give or take an inch or two.
Only two more weeks (four max) before your baby makes her appearance!
38 Weeks Pregnant Is How Many Months?
If you’re 38 weeks pregnant, you’re in month 9 of your pregnancy.
Only a few weeks left to go! Still have questions?
Here’s some more information on how weeks, months and trimesters are broken down in pregnancy.
Baby’s Preparing for Birth
At 38 weeks pregnant, all systems are almost go!
As you prepare for baby’s ETA, he’s getting ready too, big-time, and continues to shed vernix and lanugo.
Your baby is also swallowing amniotic fluid, some of which winds up in his intestines, where it — along with other shed cells, bile and waste products — will turn into your baby’s first bowel movement (meconium) and perhaps your first diaper change.
His lungs are still maturing and producing more and more surfactant, a substance that prevents the air sacs in the lungs from sticking to each other once he starts to breathe.
Most other changes this week are small but important:
He’s continuing to add fat and fine-tune his brain and nervous system (so he can deal with all the stimulation that awaits him once he makes his entrance into the world).
Your Body at Week 38
Two weeks and counting (unless, of course, your little bean decides to stay on for the tenth month)!
Just as your baby is preparing for life outside the womb, at 38 weeks pregnant, your body is tending to its own final touches before the big day — some you’re aware of, like your baby dropping into your pelvis (easier breathing, more pelvic pressure), and others you’re probably not, like cervical dilation and effacement.
While you’re waiting for D-day to arrive, think of these last weeks as a dress rehearsal for life with baby.
Sleepless nights, a little anxiety (or perhaps a lot) and leaky breasts.
Huh? Leaky breasts? Yes, it’s true: Many pregnant women find that they start leaking colostrum — a thin, yellowish liquid that’s the precursor to breast milk — sometime in the third trimester.
Full of antibodies that protect your newborn, it has more protein and less fat and sugar (the better to digest it) than the milk that arrives later.
If you are leaking colostrum, you may want to consider wearing nursing pads in your bra to protect your clothes (and get used to it, since this is just foreshadowing of what’s to come).
Not all women experience it, though.
If not, no need to fret — your breasts are still producing colostrum for your baby when the time comes (if you plan to breastfeed).
Stocking Your Freezer
Have visions of yourself as this just-delivered domestic goddess, whipping up gourmet meals in those postpartum weeks? Dream on.
Cooking will be the last thing on your mind or your to-do list during those first few weeks (make that months) after giving birth.
Fitting in a three-minute shower will trump slaving over a hot stove for sure, as will using the bathroom when the urge strikes.
To avoid serving Cheerios for dinner on a nightly basis (realistically, there will be nights when you will), plan ahead.
Do some cooking and stock your freezer now with individually packaged, simple heat-and-serve options that you can get on the table in a flash.
Label them carefully, so you won’t be left with UFOs (unidentified frozen objects).
Good candidates for the freezer include hearty soups, stews and casseroles, as well as mini meat loaves.
Have the baking itch? Satisfy it and stash away several trays of bran muffins (don’t ask, you’ll need them).
Another plan-ahead tip? If you don’t already have your favorite takeouts on speed dial, now’s a good time to enter them.
Learn more about preparing for childbirth.