38th Week Pregnancy: Symptoms, Baby Development And Body Changes

38th Week Pregnancy

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How Many Months Pregnant Are You At 38 Weeks?

At 38 weeks, you are eight months and two weeks pregnant. This is the home stretch of pregnancy, which means you can expect the onset of labor at any time from now.

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How Big Is Your Baby At 38 Weeks?

The baby is about the size of a leek at this week (1). Your baby measures 19.61in (49.8cm) in length and weighs 6.8lb (3.08kg) (2).

You have entered the full-term pregnancy, which means that your baby must be almost ready to come out. Keep reading to know how much your baby has grown by now.

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Baby Development At 38 Weeks

Here is how your baby is developing in this week.

Body partsDevelopment stage
Skin (3)Becomes smooth. Fat deposits under the skin make the baby look plump. Vernix coating is shed into the amniotic fluid (4)
Eyes (5)Dark-skinned children will have dark brown or grey eyes that become darker. Caucasian children will have dark blue or slate gray eyes that later turn to hazel, brown, brown, blue or green
Lanugo (6)Remains only on the shoulders and upper part of the body
NailsFinger and toenails have grown till the tips
Breast budsPresent on the chest of both the sexes
HairHead hair is thicker and coarser
Lungs (7)The organ is usually matured by this time
ReflexesGrasps fingers firmly and responds to light
Intestine (8)Full of meconium, which is a greenish-black matter consisting of amniotic fluid, dead cells, and the waste products from the pancreas, gallbladder, and liver
Umbilical cord (9)Measures 20-24 inches in length

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[ Read: 37th Week Pregnancy ]

Fetal position and movements:

The baby is in a head-down position and moves down into the pelvis during this week, but will be less active or moves less due to the lack of sufficient space inside the womb. However, if you notice any significant drop in the baby’s movements, then go for a check-up with your doctor.

Most of the symptoms that you have been experiencing throughout the last couple of months will continue till you deliver. More about them next.

What Are The Symptoms Of 38 Weeks Pregnancy?

Here are the symptoms of 38 weeks pregnancy:

  • Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular and less painful and go away when you change your positions. They prepare the body for delivery.
  • Sleeping becomes difficult with a big belly, aches, and restlessness associated with later stages of pregnancy.
  • A thick and mucus-like vaginal discharge called mucus plug is released, indicating cervical dilation.
  • Edema or excess water retention in the body leads to swollen ankles and feet. Drinking a lot of water will help expel the excess fluids from the body.
  • The breast starts leaking milk called colostrum, the first milk that your baby will feed on.
  • The frequency of urination increases due to the pressure that the uterus puts on the bladder.
  • The extra pressure of carrying the baby can stress the lower back and cause a backache.
  • Hormonal fluctuations could be a reason for diarrhea.
  • Bloody show is a vaginal discharge mixed with blood and appears pink or brown. The bleeding is caused due to the rupture of cervical blood vessels during effacement and dilation.

The physical and emotional changes that you may experience in this week are no different from what you may have had experienced a week or two ago.

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How Does The Body Change In The 38th Week

Here are some of the physical and emotional changes you might notice during this week:

[ Read: 39th Week Of Pregnancy ]

Physical changes:

  • Enlarged belly: The belly looks bigger as the baby is fully grown.
  • Breasts: The areola becomes darker and starts leaking colostrum.
  • Itchy belly: As the belly gets stretched, the skin develops stretch marks and becomes more sensitive and itchy. Applying a moisturizer can help relieve the itchiness to some extent.

Emotional changes:

  • Anxiety, as you’re nearing the due date.
  • Mood swings, due to hormonal fluctuations.
  • You are likely to develop nesting instincts and start preparing to welcome the new member.

Since your pregnancy is full term, you could get into labor any time. Read on to know the signs and symptoms of labor in this week.

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Signs Of Labor In The 38th Week

Here are the signs of labor you must look out for during this week (10):

  • Lightening, when you feel your baby deep down in the pelvis.
  • Thick mucus-plug discharge from the vagina.
  • Rupture of the amniotic sac associated with a constant water leak or a gush of fluids.
  • Frequent and painful contractions at regular intervals.
  • Low, dull backache.
  • Bloody show.
  • Cramps with or without diarrhea.

If the labor pain starts naturally in the 38th week, it means your baby is ready to come out and is going to be just fine.

In the case of medical conditions like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, placental problems, or uterine infections, the doctor may suggest labor induction at this week. If there are no signs of labor at this time, you will have your regular OB/GYN visit.

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Your OB/GYN Visit

During the visit, your doctor will:

  • Check weight gain and blood pressure.
  • Take a urine sample to test for protein levels.
  • Ask you about any physical discomfort such as heartburn and sleeping troubles, and about the baby’s movements.
  • Measure the height of the uterus to gauge the size of the baby.
  • Get an ultrasound to check the length and weight of your baby, as well as the heart rate, breathing pattern, and the level of amniotic fluid.
  • Check the cervix to know how much you have dilated.

During this visit the doctor will also discuss:

  • Gestational diabetes, anemia, intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), breech positioning, if you are at the risk of these.

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  • Pregnancy-induced hypertension
  • Other medical problems
  • Symptoms you should watch out for and when to call the doctor.

As you are sailing through the last few days of pregnancy, you need to follow a healthy regimen. Read on for tips for the parents-to-be.

[ Read: 3rd Week Of Pregnancy ]

Tips For Mom-to-be

  • Engage in physical activities like walking to stay active and energetic. Squatting and kegel exercises help strengthen your pelvic muscles.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Follow a healthy diet. Eat home-cooked meals.
  • Avoid deep fried and fatty foods.
  • Stay calm and keep stress at bay.
  • Practice breathing exercises.
  • Spend time with your husband, family, and friends.
  • Never hesitate to ask any help from them.
  • Wear comfortable and loose clothes. Avoid wearing heels and get a pair of flats and slippers.

Next, find out how your husband can help you through this week.

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Tips For Dad-To-Be

Your partner also goes through overwhelming feelings in anticipation of labor. However, here is how he can help you and care for you this week.

  • Gather details and documents necessary for claiming insurance covering the costs of delivery. Also put together paperwork that is needed before you get into labor.
  • Listen to the doctor’s instructions carefully during the last few prenatal visits, to help you stay calm and relaxed during delivery.
  • Understand how you want to deliver.
  • Inquire about the hospital, its policies, and how they are going to take care of the patient.
  • Keep the maternity bag ready, with all the essential items that you will need in the hospital.

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You’re almost at the end of this beautifully chaotic journey called pregnancy, and very soon, you will bring a new life into this world. And when you hold that little life in your hand, the joy you will experience is indescribable. So, gear up for it and take care of yourself!

Do you have any experiences to share with us? Let us know in the comment section below.

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shreeja pillai

Postgraduate in Chemistry and content writer. She has worked as a research analyst with a leading multinational pharmaceutical company and also holds a diploma in pharmaceutical regulatory affairs. Her interest in the field of medical research has developed her passion for writing research-based articles. She is a writer for MomJunction and aims at providing informative articles based on health and wellness. Apart from writing, she takes a great interest in music and traveling. know more about her at https://www.linkedin.com/in/shreeja-pillai/
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