38 Weeks Pregnant : What to Expect
Reviewed by Dr. Susan K. Mueller, OB/GYN
Many different changes are happening during the 38th week of pregnancy. Both mom and baby are ready for delivery and experiencing a waiting game. Anxiety could be playing a major role in an expectant mom’s head, so try discussing any negative feelings you may have with your healthcare provider.
Symptoms and Body Changes at 38 Weeks
Believe it or not, at 38 weeks pregnant your internal and external states are still changing. Increased mucus discharge at this stage is normal as your cervix softens and prepares for labor. As the baby moves into the birth canal many women will also experience increased pelvic pressure and back pain. Pregnancy massages and maternity belts may provide some relief for these discomforts. Swelling in your body, especially your feet, is quite apparent at this point, especially in warmer more humid areas as increased humidity draws fluid into the tissue. Swelling in your hands and face that is accompanied by severe abdominal pain or persistent or severe headaches should be reported to your healthcare provider immediately. This could be a sign something is wrong, such as pregnancy induced hypertension. Pregnancy induced hypertension can prevent the placenta from getting an adequate amount of blood, oxygen, and food to the baby.
Your baby should be in position with his or her head on your pelvic bone. The lanugo is continuing to shed as this week comes and goes. If you haven’t given birth, your baby is continuing to grow. He or she could be up to 20 inches in length (normally they are between 17-20 inches by this week) and weighing close to or just over 7 lbs. All of your baby’s organs have matured (except for the brain and lungs) and are functioning on their own. The brain and lungs continue to develop and mature after childbirth and into childhood. A major and new development during this 38th week is that the tear ducts begin to form. The gender can easily be identified now, as the sex organs have fully matured. Expectant parents who do not wish to know the gender of the baby before childbirth will definitely need to resist looking at the ultrasounds now. Your baby is reacting to sounds, clenching his or her fists, and preparing for childbirth. It is said that girls are smaller than boys and rest lower in the abdomen, but every pregnancy is unique.
Pregnancy Week 38 Tips
Your doctor will probably begin or continue discussing preliminary labor pains. Occasionally, especially with higher risk pregnancies, the expectant mothers may need some form of fetal monitoring. With low risk pregnancies, it’s important to understand the difference between labor and prelabor. Prelabor can be done at home or on the way to the hospital and doesn’t necessarily need to be done at the hospital. Next is pregnancy at 39 weeks.