Congratulations on reaching this exciting milestone in your pregnancy journey. At 38 weeks, you’re almost at the end of your third trimester, and your baby is fully developed and almost ready to meet you.
In this article, we’ll discuss what you can expect at 38 weeks pregnant, how to take care of yourself, and what to do if you have any concerns. So, let’s dive in and explore this exciting stage of pregnancy together!
Your baby at 38 weeks pregnant
By pregnancy week 38, your baby is considered full term and is likely weighing around 6 to 7 pounds (close to their final birth weight) and measuring approximately 19 to 21 inches long. Here are some key aspects of baby development at week 38:
Brain and nervous system
Your baby’s brain and nervous system continue to develop rapidly, with the baby’s brain now weighing about a third more than it did just four weeks ago.
Your baby’s lungs are fully developed and ready for life outside the womb. The lungs will continue to produce surfactant, which helps the air sacs inflate and prevents them from collapsing until the baby is born.
Your baby’s digestive system is fully functional, and the meconium (the baby’s first bowel movement) is already formed in the intestines. The meconium comprises everything the baby ingests while in the womb, including skin cells, amniotic fluid, and other waste products.
Fat continues to accumulate under your baby’s skin, which helps to regulate body temperature and provides a source of energy after birth.
Your baby is likely moving less frequently than before because of the limited space in the womb. However, you should still feel regular movements and kicks.
Your healthcare provider will monitor your baby’s development closely in the final weeks of pregnancy to ensure that everything is progressing as it should be.
If you have any concerns about your baby’s development or movement, discuss them with your healthcare provider.
Your body at 38 weeks pregnant
At 38 weeks, you may experience various pregnancy symptoms as your body prepares for labor and delivery.
Here are some common symptoms and tips on how to deal with them:
1. Braxton Hicks contractions
These are mild, irregular, and typically painless contractions, though they may cause some discomfort. They may become more frequent and intense as you end your pregnancy.
To deal with Braxton Hicks contractions, try changing positions, taking a warm bath, or drinking water to stay hydrated.
2. Pelvic pressure
As the baby drops lower into the pelvis in preparation for delivery, you may feel an increased pressure in your pelvic area.
To deal with this, try resting and elevating your feet, doing pelvic floor exercises, and using a pregnancy support belt.
3. Back pain
As your baby grows and puts pressure on your back muscles, you may experience back pain.
To deal with this, try gentle stretches and exercises, apply heat or cold to the affected area, and get regular prenatal massages.
It’s common to feel more tired than usual during the last few weeks of pregnancy.
To deal with fatigue, try taking naps, resting often, and prioritizing sleep.
5. Trouble sleeping
As your pregnancy progresses, it can be difficult to get comfortable at night.
To deal with this, try sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs, using a pregnancy pillow for support, and avoiding caffeine and heavy meals before bedtime.
Many pregnant women experience swelling in their feet, ankles, and hands, especially in the later stages of pregnancy.
To deal with swelling, try resting with your feet elevated, avoiding standing for long periods, and wearing comfortable, supportive shoes.
Remember, it’s essential to communicate with your healthcare provider throughout your pregnancy and report any new or worsening symptoms. They can help you determine if further evaluation or treatment is needed.
Self-care at 38 weeks pregnant
Taking care of yourself is important during any stage of pregnancy, but especially in the later stages when your body is working hard to prepare for labor and delivery.
Here are some self-care tips for you to consider at 38 weeks pregnant:
Rest and relaxation: Make sure you are getting plenty of rest and taking time to relax each day. This can include naps, reading a book, meditating, or doing gentle yoga.
Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water is essential for you and your baby, especially near the end of your pregnancy. Aim for at least eight glasses of water daily, and avoid sugary or caffeinated drinks.
Eat well: Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for your health and your baby’s development. Focus on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats.
Exercise: Regular exercise can help prepare your body for labor and delivery and help with common pregnancy discomforts such as back pain and constipation. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week, such as walking, swimming, or prenatal yoga.
Self-care activities: Take some time for activities that make you feel good, such as getting a prenatal massage, taking a warm bath, or getting a pedicure.
Know the signs of labor: Since labor can happen any day now, it’s important to know the signs, such as a lost mucus plug or full-blown water breakage.
Prepare for labor and delivery: Use this time to prepare for the upcoming birth of your baby. Attend childbirth classes, practice relaxation techniques, and ensure you have everything you need for the hospital or birthing center.
Remember to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about any self-care activities or practices you are considering to ensure they are safe for you and your baby.
FAQs at 38 Weeks pregnant
Below are some commonly asked FAQs that women ask at 38 weeks pregnant.
Is giving birth at 38 weeks normal?
Most pregnancies last between 37 and 42 weeks. Babies born between 37 and 38 weeks are considered “early term,” while those born between 39 and 40 weeks are considered “full term.”
If a baby is born at 38 weeks, it may be considered a bit early, but it is still within the range of what is considered normal.
What should I be feeling at 38 weeks pregnant?
At 38 weeks pregnant, you may feel emotions ranging from excitement and anticipation to anxiety and nervousness about giving birth.
Physically, you may also be experiencing a range of symptoms as your body prepares for labor and delivery.
Some common physical symptoms that moms-to-be may be feeling at 38 weeks pregnant include:
- Braxton Hicks contractions
- Increased pressure and discomfort in your pelvic area
- Difficulty sleeping
- Increased fatigue
- Nesting instincts
Some common emotions that women may experience during this time include:
- Nesting instincts
- Mood swings
What not to ignore at 38 weeks pregnant?
At 38 weeks pregnant, it’s important to be aware of any changes in your body or symptoms that could indicate a potential problem with your pregnancy.
Here are some signs and symptoms that you should not ignore:
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting
- Severe or persistent headaches:
- Sudden swelling
- Severe abdominal pain
- Reduced fetal movement
- Fluid leaking from your vagina (not discharge)
Remember that every pregnancy is different; not all women will experience the same symptoms or complications.
However, if you are ever unsure about a symptom or are concerned about your health or your baby’s health, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider.
They can help you determine if further evaluation or treatment is needed.
Can I ask to be induced at 38 weeks?
In general, inducing labor is only recommended if there is a medical reason to deliver the baby early, such as:
- Maternal health conditions: If the mother has a health condition that could put her or the baby at risk, such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or high blood pressure, induction may be recommended.
- Fetal health conditions: If the baby is not growing properly or is showing signs of distress, induction may be recommended to deliver the baby early.
- Post-term pregnancy: If the pregnancy has passed 41 weeks, induction may be recommended to reduce the risk of complications.
If there is no medical reason to deliver the baby early, most healthcare providers will not recommend induction before 39 weeks. This is because babies born before 39 weeks may be at higher risk for complications such as respiratory distress syndrome, jaundice, and low blood sugar.
Ultimately, the decision to induce labor should be made in consultation with your healthcare provider. They can discuss your situation, the risks and benefits of induction and help you decide the best course of action for you and your baby.
What triggers labor?
The exact cause of labor is not fully understood, but several factors are thought to trigger its onset. These factors include:
Hormonal changes: During pregnancy, the body produces a hormone called progesterone, which helps to maintain the pregnancy. As the pregnancy nears its end, the body begins to produce another hormone called oxytocin, which can stimulate contractions in the uterus and trigger labor.
Fetal signals: The baby’s position, size, and maturity level can all trigger labor. As the baby grows and matures, it may release hormones that signal to the mother’s body that it is ready to be born.
Changes in the cervix: As the body prepares for labor, the cervix begins to soften, thin out, and open up. This process, known as cervical ripening, can be triggered by hormonal changes, fetal signals, or physical stimulation.
Environmental factors: Some studies suggest that changes in barometric pressure or temperature and humidity can trigger labor. This may be why some women labor during a thunderstorm or after a hot bath.
It’s important to note that there is no single trigger for labor and that the onset of labor can differ for every woman.
In some cases, labor may be induced artificially due to medical concerns or complications with the pregnancy.
Being 38 weeks pregnant is exciting as you near the end of your pregnancy journey. Your baby is fully developed and almost ready to debut into the world.
While you may experience some uncomfortable symptoms in the last weeks of your journey, you can do many self-care activities to help you feel more comfortable and prepared for your baby’s arrival.
Listen to your body, rest and relax, eat well, and stay hydrated. Most importantly, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider with questions or concerns.