38 weeks pregnant is a milestone to celebrate and savor. Find out what to expect when you’re 38 weeks pregnant, find out whether you can feel baby yet and what your uterus looks like. What size is a 12-week-pregnant uterus? What are the 8th week symptoms? When does baby start to move?
Your baby at week 38 of pregnancy
The internal organs and systems of your baby are now complete. There is no holding her back now that she is mature enough to join the adult population. Your uterus, once a huge house, is now quite small, leaving little room for her to move around.
38 weeks pregnant is how many months?
When you are 38 weeks pregnant, you are officially in 9 months of your pregnancy, only a few weeks left to go! Congratulations, your almost there momma!
How big is your baby at 38 weeks pregnant?
At 38 weeks, the average baby weighs around 5 t0 7 pounds and measures about 16 to 20 inches long from crown to rump, making it about the size of a of cephalic.
38 weeks pregnant baby position
It is most likely that your baby is already head-down. If not, your caregiver may suggest scheduling an external cephalic version, in which pressure is applied to your abdomen to induce a headdown position for your baby.
38 weeks pregnant: baby’s development
34-38 weeks baby developments
A baby’s final month in the womb is spent in intense preparation for delivery. A baby is no longer considered preterm if she is born at or after 38 weeks of gestation (or 38 weeks after conception). During exhalation, the alveoli in her lungs don’t stick together because of the surfactant that lines their interiors. Meaning she won’t need help from the NICU and will thrive just fine on her own.
After 33 weeks of pregnancy, your unborn baby’s brain and nervous system are fully developed.
Bones continue to harden
The bones of their bodies are hardening, with the exception of those in their skulls, which are still soft. The skull bones remain soft and separated until after the birth to ease their passage through the birth canal. During the birth process, the bones can slide over each other gently, allowing the head to be born safely and protected from damage.
Rapidl weight gain
Their weight is rapidly increasing, and you’re probably gaining around one pound a week, half of which is being transferred to them.
Buds are well developed
At 33 weeks, the buds have reached full maturity. One more reason to watch what you eat while carrying your child is that they may develop your taste preferences.
Space is getting tight in womb
Lungs are fully formed
A baby’s lungs are fully formed after 38 weeks and ready for their first breath after birth. Furthermore, their lungs produce a substance called ‘surfactant’ that keeps their air sacs open so they can take in oxygen.
As well as being able to suckle for feeds after 38 weeks, their digestive systems are also ready to deal with breast milk. By now your baby is about 48cm long.
Your body at 38 weeks pregnant
Ensure that your bags are packed and placed by the door! No need to worry about what to bring; we have a checklist of all the essentials and some luxuries that might make your experience more enjoyable and comfortable. Even if you plan a home birth, you should pack a small suitcase.
Those last few weeks of pregnancy can be so difficult; you’re playing the waiting game! There is an increase in the frequency and intensity of Braxton Hicks contractions.
You have reached full-term pregnancy status at 38 weeks! The pain of backaches and leg cramps is overshadowed by excitement about the birth of your baby. False contractions may occur intermittently throughout the day. Throughout your body, your cervix prepares for delivery. When your cervix thins (or effaces), you may notice clear to white vaginal discharge.
What to Expect During Labor
The term “labor” is not always easy to define. In most media depictions, a pregnant woman simply says, “It’s time,” hurries to the hospital, and gives birth within minutes. Real world labor is more often a prolonged process than a single, dramatic occurrence.
There are three stages of labor: the first, or latent phase, the second, or active labor, and the third, or transitional labor, which gets you ready to give birth.
The First Phase
While the initial stage of labor can continue anywhere from a few hours to a few days, the contractions you’ll feel during this time should be mild enough to be bearable.
You should be able to go about your day-to-day activities at this point in your labor. The television won’t stop working when you’re washing dishes or folding laundry. In reality, your doctor or midwife has likely instructed you to count the number of contractions you experience each hour, but to not call her until they become intense and close together (the second phase of labor).
After feeling these contractions, your cervix will begin to dilate and open. During this first stage, your cervix will open up to around three centimeters.
Water breaking is one of those times when you should probably call your doctor immediately soon. If you or your baby tested positive for group B strep, a potentially dangerous virus if left untreated, your doctor may want to start you on antibiotics in the hospital before you ever go into labor.
The Second Phase
The intensity and regularity of contractions increase during the second stage of labor. Your contractions will be three to five minutes apart instead of several minutes and will stay longer than thirty seconds. And your perception of the contractions themselves will shift as a result. Your contractions will begin painlessly and build to a peak of great discomfort before gradually lessening. This second phase typically lasts for a shorter amount of time than the first did (hours rather than days).
Please inform your doctor as soon as you experience consistent, intense contractions. Your doctor will likely ask you a series of questions about the frequency, duration, and intensity of your contractions to decide whether or not you have progressed beyond the first stage of labor and should get to the hospital.
When you have contractions, your cervix stretches. A woman’s cervix thins, or effaces, to facilitate the birth of her baby. At this point, your water may break naturally or your doctor may rupture it to hasten the birthing process. By the end of this stage, your cervix will be four to seven centimeters dilated, which is an open cervix and an ideal birthing position.
There will be heart rate monitoring for both you and the baby while you are in the hospital. IV fluids and drugs may also be administered to you. You may wish to begin your coping skills, like as deep breathing exercises or pain medication, when the contractions get more intense.
The Third Phase
The final stage is also known as the transition phase since you will soon be ready to push and deliver your baby. You might expect your contractions to extend and pick up intensity throughout this stage.
You’ll need your pain management strategies, such as deep breathing, homeopathic remedies, or medicine, to help you get through this phase just as you did the second.
Seven to ten centimeters of cervice dilation is normal, providing an adequate passageway for your baby.
When you reach the conclusion of this phase, you may feel the urge to push; however, you should refrain from doing so until your doctor or labor nurse orders you to do so. Dr. Joanne Motino Bailey, a licensed nurse midwife, says that pushing the baby down might create edema and actually delay labor if the cervix is not fully dilated.
You can start pushing now that your cervix has completely dilated. You will be assisted in pushing your baby out of the cervical opening, through the birth canal, and into your arms by your doctor, doula, or nurse (or a mix of these).
Medical professionals may suggest a Cesarean section if your labor appears to be stuck. One third of all cesarean deliveries are performed because labor does not advance regularly, as stated by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
In comparison to a natural birth, recuperation after a Cesarean section takes more time. The incision needs time to heal, as it would after any serious operation. No one, not even the baby, should put any pressure on the pregnant woman’s stomach. Thus, it may be best to lie down instead of sit up while nursing for a bit after giving birth so that the incision doesn’t become compressed.
38 weeks pregnant tips and advice
Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated is important. Your body uses more water during your pregnancy to fuel your increased blood supply (necessary to get your baby-to-be plenty of nutrients) and other body functions. Taken to extremes, dehydration can lead to preterm labor pains. So bring a water bottle to work with you—and drink it.
Use the bathroom—often
Drinking more water means more trips to the bathroom. Add to that, your kidneys are working overtime to filter impurities from your increased blood supply. To avoid stares from coworkers, plan discrete potty breaks. Go when you first get to the office and take a break on the way from meetings or other times when you’re already up so your trips will be less noticeable. Putting off a trip to the bathroom is a bad idea—it makes you uncomfortable and puts stress on your bladder, which can lead to bladder infections.
Bring light snacks
Food may not be appealing, especially if you’re experiencing nausea. Skip a full-blown lunch and opt for lighter fare throughout the day. Keep in mind that some pregnancy comfort foods are dead giveaways, such as crackers. If you’re trying to keep your pregnancy a secret, try less notorious foods that still comfort nausea but that don’t shout, “I’m pregnant!” Opt for foods high in protein, such as string cheese, almonds, or milk.
Wear comfortable clothes
You’ve probably packed away your tight-fitting pants already. If you haven’t, now’s probably the time to say goodbye to your hip-hugging ensembles until after your baby’s arrival. Avoiding tight clothes isn’t just about hiding your baby bump. Your body may be retaining water to fuel your increased blood supply, and constricting clothes are not only tight on your skin, but the blood that’s trying to flow underneath.
Watch your posture
Take time to get off your feet and walk around. Staying in the same position for too long allows the blood to pool in the lower part of your body, potentially making you light-headed. Put your feet up whenever possible to keep your blood flowing properly.
Having Trouble Sleeping at 38 weeks Pregnant
Having difficulties sleeping is a common pregnant symptom, and it’s especially common in the second and third trimesters, when other pregnancy symptoms peak and a growing belly makes it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position.
When you’re 38 weeks pregnant, it could hurt to sleep on your stomach, but studies indicates that lying on your back puts more strain on the vena cava, the main blood vessel that returns blood to the heart.
Your blood circulation will increase if you sleep on your left side, which will also be good for your uterus, kidneys, and fetus. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, try placing a pillow between your knees and another under your stomach. If the problem persists, consult your doctor.
38 weeks Pregnant: Wellness and Nutrition
What should you avoid during pregnancy? Doctors agree that you should avoid the following:
- Activities that may cause you to fall, or that place pressure or force on your belly
- Intense, overly vigorous exercise – if you’re too out of breath to talk, you’re probably exercising too hard.
- Drinking alcohol, smoking, and caffeine (ask your doctor how much caffeine you should consume each day)
- Sweeteners such as saccharine and herbal sweeteners (ask your doctor if artificial sweeteners are appropriate)
- Prescription and over-the-counter medications (check with your doctor about what’s safe during pregnancy)
- Paint, cleaning products, and solvents can expose you to chemicals and fumes. Acrylic and latex paints are generally considered safe. However, you should consult your doctor before helping around the house or in the nursery.
- Saunas and hot tubs
- Chemical treatments for your hair, such as dye and perms
38 weeks pregnancy symptoms
Your body undergoes many changes to give your baby-to-be enough room to grow. Some of these changes are comforting—your rounded belly and your full breasts, for example—while other signs can be troubling. Keep in mind that many of these physical changes will last only until your baby arrives.
Upper abdominal pain
The uterus is growing rapidly, putting pressure on organs like the bladder, intestines, and stomach. This can cause mild pain in the upper abdomen that may extend to the lower abdomen or sides of your stomach. The pressure on your abdomen can also cause pain when you cough or sneeze.
Lower abdominal pain
The uterus is growing rapidly and putting pressure on your bladder, intestines, and stomach. This can cause lower abdominal pain that may feel like mild cramping or a dull ache in the pelvic region. Back pain. The growing weight of your uterus on your spine can cause back pain that typically becomes worse as pregnancy progresses.
The weight of your uterus can put pressure on your veins and cause leg cramps or swelling. You may also experience varicose veins in your legs due to increased blood flow. Neck pain. As the baby grows, it puts more pressure on the spinal cord, which runs down through your neck and back. This can cause mild pain in the neck area that may extend into your shoulders and arms.
Your growing uterus can put pressure on your spine and cause back pain. The weight of the baby can also cause sciatica, which is when pain shoots down the back of one leg due to compression in the spinal cord. Backache. Your growing uterus may cause you to experience mild to moderate lower back pain or stiffness in your lower abdomen around this time.
It can be alarming, especially if you aren’t expecting it! But rest assured, this is not usually a cause for concern. Breast milk production begins when the hormone prolactin rises in response to pregnancy. Prolactin stimulates the cells of the mammary glands that produce milk and causes them to grow and multiply.
You may find it harder to get comfortable when you’re pregnant. Your growing abdomen can make it more difficult for you to find a position that feels good, and your joints may be sore from carrying extra weight. You might also experience restless leg syndrome, which is when you feel like your legs are moving even though they aren’t. This happens because the joints in the body release chemicals that cause itching or tingling sensations when they are irritated by things like pregnancy hormones.
You may be experiencing swollen ankles, which is common during pregnancy. This happens because the increased levels of hormones in your body cause fluid to accumulate in your tissues, including those that line the walls of your veins and arteries. It’s usually not a cause for concern unless you have swelling in both legs or it lasts longer than two weeks.
Fatigue (constant tiredness or weakness)
One of the most typical symptoms of early pregnancy is fatigue, which frequently starts at this point. Although there are many causes of exhaustion during pregnancy (including changes in hormone levels), some research indicates that inadequate sleep brought on by nighttime awakenings from unpleasant sleeping positions may also be a role.
Heartburn or gas
There may be a rise in heartburn and flatulence during the 38th week of pregnancy. This is because progesterone produces a decrease in the tone of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle, which typically prevents stomach acid from entering the esophagus. This can cause heartburn and discomfort by allowing stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus. Try spreading your meals out more, staying away from items that are known to cause heartburn (such spicy foods), and drinking lots of water.
Mood swings and crying spells
The 38th week of pregnancy is a vulnerable time for women, when they are more likely to experience mood swings and crying spells. Until your hormone levels settle, this will have an impact on your mental and emotional well-being. This is a common occurrence for pregnant women; one study indicated that 75% of women felt emotional shifts like irritability or depression in the first trimester.
Indigestion, or constipation
During the 38th week of pregnancy, you may suffer gastrointestinal issues like indigestion or constipation. Pregnancy hormones like progesterone and estrogen might increase the likelihood of gastrointestinal issues including indigestion. These hormones slow down digestion by relaxing the digestive tract, preventing food from being swallowed whole. You can reduce the frequency and severity of indigestion during pregnancy by cutting out on high-fat and sugary foods and eating more often, smaller meals (like sweets or fried foods).
Your body retains water to provide the necessary fluids for your growing baby-to-be. You can prevent much of this swelling from drinking plenty of fluids and keeping your legs up. You may also want to purchase socks designed to improve the circulation in your feet.
The skin’s pigmentation may deepen around certain parts of your body during pregnancy, such as your nipples and freckles. You may also notice spots of color on your face, called the mask of pregnancy or chloasma. These pigmentation changes will fade after your baby’s born.
Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath, also known as dyspnea, is a very common and often overlooked symptom of pregnancy. It happens when there isn’t enough oxygen in your body or when your blood flow is constricted. This can make it difficult to do even the smallest things like walk across the room or climb stairs.
You may feel like you need to take deeper breaths than usual or that it takes longer than normal for your breathing rate to return to normal after an activity such as climbing stairs.
Symptoms to be aware of
Please share any concerns you may have with your doctor or midwife. Don’t worry about whether or not you’re repeating yourself or wasting anyone’s time by bringing up an old topic. This pregnancy is yours, so listen to your body if you suspect something is wrong.
Signs of premature labour
If you have any of the following symptoms, call the hospital or midwife straight away, because you could be in premature labour:
- regular contractions or tightenings
- period-type pains or pressure in your vaginal area
- a “show” – which is when the plug of mucus that has sealed the cervix during pregnancy comes away and out of the vagina
- a gush or trickle of fluid from your vagina – this could be your waters breaking
- backache that’s unusual for you.
38 weeks pregnant belly
At 38 weeks pregnant, you may notice that your tummy appears to have “dropped,” or sagged down towards your pelvis. The shifting location of the fetus inside the uterus is responsible for this new form.
38 weeks pregnant belly size
By week 38, your belly will have expanded and protruded considerably. You might have trouble seeing where you’re walking. There is a 26-35 cm range for fundal height (10.2-13.8 in). Around 9 cm (3.5 inches) above your belly button is where you’ll notice a significant increase in amniotic fluid.
Some women may measure smaller and some larger than this, but this is a good general guide for how big your belly will be at this point in pregnancy. Of course, being 38 weeks pregnant with twins makes you feel heavier than other pregnant women your age.
Measuring pregnant belly at 38 weeks
If you’re measuring your belly at home, use a tape measure and measure around the widest part of your abdomen. Measurement is usually taken above the navel or below it, depending on what’s more comfortable for you. Be sure to stand up straight and relax as much as possible while taking your measurement—it should be taken at the same time every day so that you can monitor how quickly or slowly your belly is growing.
If you are measuring your belly at the top of your pubic bone, expect to see an increase of about two inches per month. If you’re measuring this lower, around your navel and below, it can be as much as three inches per month. The average weight gain during pregnancy is between 25 and 35 pounds and usually occurs in the last trimester (after week 28).
Braxton Hicks at 38 weeks Pregnant
At 38 weeks pregnant, you may find that your Braxton Hicks contractions are becoming more frequent and intense. You may feel them in your back or lower abdomen, and they may last anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes. If you’re having regular contractions, it’s important to talk with your doctor about any pain or discomfort you experience during them.
Braxton Hicks are common during the third trimester. You may not even notice them because they feel like mild discomfort or a dull ache in your lower abdomen. They’re also called practice contractions because they prepare your body for real labor by getting it ready to push out a baby when the time comes.
38 weeks pregnant ultrasound
According to a study published in the journal PLOS Medicine, a routine ultrasound at 38 weeks might assist identify babies who are in the breech position, which can cause problems during labor. The breech position is when a baby is in the womb with its feet or bottom facing down.
The importance of prenatal vitamins during pregnancy
During pregnancy, you need a greater amount of folic acid and iron. Why? Here are some reasons:
Folic acid prevents neural tube defects
These defects affect the fetal brain and spinal cord in a significant way. Preferably, you should begin taking extra folic acid three months before you become pregnant.
The placenta and baby require iron to develop
The body uses iron to make blood to supply oxygen to the baby. Additionally, iron helps prevent anemia, a condition in which the blood lacks healthy red blood cells
It’s important to consult your doctor or healthcare provider to find out which are the best prenatal vitamins to take before pregnancy, and how to calculate your expected delivery date.
38 weeks pregnant hCG levels
At 38 weeks pregnant, your hCG levels can range from about 4,060 – 165,400 mIU/m.
Explore more in your pregnancy week-by-week
Follow your pregnancy week-by-week to find out how your baby is growing and what is happening to your body.
First Trimester Weeks:
Second Trimester Weeks
Third Trimester Weeks
Pregnant Women Also Asked:
Got questions about week 6? Other ladies have wondered this…
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- Human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (HCG). (2018.)
- Knowing if you are pregnant. (2019).
- Navigating your pregnancy. (n.d.).
- Pregnancy. (2017).
- Pregnancy: Sensitivity and specificity. (n. d.).
- Pregnancy tests. (n.d.)
- Pregnancy week by week. Weeks 1–2. (n.d.).
- Stages of pregnancy. (n.d.).