Pregnancy Week 38: The Finish Line Is Right Around The Corner!

6 min read

38 weeks pregnant
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At 38 weeks pregnant, your baby is nearing full-term, which means that it will soon be time for them to enter this world. You may be feeling the weight of all your symptoms, including current-like sensations running down your legs and even vagina. This is usually because the baby is low in the pelvis region and putting pressure on certain sensitive nerves. While this may feel strange, remember that it is just another sign that your baby is going to be with you soon. 

Even if your expected due date is still not here, keep an eye on your 38 week baby bump in case those labor contractions decide to start earlier. Keep an eye for bloody discharge because this could be a sign of preterm labor, too. The moment you have been waiting for can come anytime soon and even if that scares you, try to focus on the excitement of finally meeting the little one you have nurtured in your belly all these weeks

Size of the baby at 38 weeks

The size of the baby at 38 weeks is around 19.6 inches, weighing approximately 6.8 pounds and their head is about the same circumference as their head! For a visual image, the size of the baby at 36 weeks is around that of a winter melon. By this time, the baby is shedding their lanugo, while also slowly shedding the white goo called vernix caseosa from around their body.

Some of this will go to the baby’s intestines, making the greenish-black substance called meconium and be expelled with baby’s first stool. Your baby will look reddish-purple around birth because their circulation is not up to its final speed and their skin pigmentation hasn’t developed yet. Still, most of their systems have developed enough for them to survive in their outer world and soon, they will be ready to snuggle in your arms.

Your 38 week baby bump is now near its final form because you probably won’t notice any significant growth now. The baby has settled lower, mostly in a head-down position, which may be checked by your doctor at this week’s prenatal checkup, if it hasn’t been done already. Even though you may be ready to just cross the finish line, linger a little long and cosy up in your maternity dresses. The correct time will be soon and believe us when we say it will be worth the weight. 

38 weeks pregnant symptoms

At this point, your 38 weeks pregnant symptoms are just your body’s way of preparing for the delivery, so you may be feeling all the changes especially hard this week, because you are so, so tired but you still need to be alert and look out for any signs of labor. You have been doing so well, observing and taking care of your body, and you can see it through to the end even more amazingly.

38 weeks pregnant

Here are the 38 weeks pregnant symptoms that you may experience:

1. Trouble sleeping

It may be hard to catch some much-needed sleep, either because of the nerves, the aches or a combination of both. Try to relax as much as possible and soothe yourself, because even the little rest you get. 

2. Increased vaginal discharge

You may notice a thick, mucus-like substance being discharged this week, sometimes tinged with blood, which means that you are losing your mucus plug as your cervix dilates in preparation of labor. As gross as this may feel, remember that this is just another sign that your baby is going to get here soon!

3. Braxton-Hicks Contractions

That irregular tightening of your abdomen may be common by this week, as your body practices for labor. As long these contractions aren’t growing closer, feeling painful, and go away when you switch positions, they are Braxton-Hicks contractions, different from actual labor pains. Keep an eye on them, because if they feel longer and frequent with time, then inform your OB because these could be labor contractions.

4. Itchy belly

With your 38 week baby bump stretching your belly as much as possible, it may make the skin more sensitive and itchy. Hydration by using heavy-duty moisturizers such as pure shea butter can help, while also drinking lots of water. In case you get a rash, call your OB immediately. 

5. Anxiety 

You may be feeling antsy and on the edge because of the toll pregnancy as taken of you, with the added weight gain and change in hormones. This can get even worse if you are pregnant with twins or multiples, or have any kind of pregnancy complication. Still, try to surround yourself with things that make you happy by spending time with your loved ones and partner so they can cheer you up.

Worrying will only make you more tired, and though we know you can’t help it, try to focus on the progress you have made instead. It’s going to be okay and you are going to do well, just as you have been, up until this point.

6. Swollen feet and ankles

The excess body fluids accumulating in your tissues can make your ankles, feet and even hand swell mildly. Try to sit with your feet elevated while also taking walks to keep the blood flowing. In case the swelling is sudden or severe, make sure to inform your doctor immediately.

38 weeks pregnant symptoms of labor 

While your due date technically isn’t for two weeks, things don’t always go as planned, labor can happen as early as 38 weeks to as late as 42 weeks. Thus, it is good to keep certain signs of labor in mind, so you know if they match with what you are experiencing. 

These are certain signs of labor which you should be on the lookout for:

Mucus plug and blood show

Losing your mucus plug means discharging globs of thick, mucus-like liquid, which is released as your cervix starts to dilate in preparation of the delivery. This could also be tinged with a little bit of blood and if you notice your mucus plug being released, you should be on alert.

Nausea

While this may not be a sure symptom, some women claim to feel nauseous before going into labor, so it is always good to be careful.

Diarrhoea

During this time, diarrhoea may not always be an indicator of digestive troubles due to the food you ate, but could also be a symptom indicating that labor hormones are present in your body.

Contractions

Though you may be used to practice contractions at this point, real contractions can also start. These feel like a regular tightening in your abdomen that doesn’t stop, which can be painful and happen closer than five minutes apart and last more than two hours. If you feel any of this, it is probably a sign that you are in the early stages of labor and should go to the hospital soon. 

Water breaking

If you feel a trickling, watery discharge, it indicates that the amniotic sac has ruptured and the fluid is leaking, which means that labor will likely start soon. In case you see this kind of discharge, inform your OB immediately and make your way to the hospital.

Back Pain 

While all the various pregnancy aches may have given you a sore back for a while now, sudden or intense back pain can also be a symptom of labor, so make sure to call your OB immediately if notice this.

38 Weeks pregnant Ultrasound

At the prenatal appointment this week, your OB may check if the baby is in a head-down position, with their head towards the pelvis. They will also perform a pelvic exam, where the cervix will be checked for dilation (opening) and effacement (thinning), which are signs that your body is getting ready for labor.

38 weeks pregnant

However, even if you have these signs, it is hard to tell when you may go into labor, because it could even be weeks away. Vice versa, even if you don’t have these signs, you could still go into the labor the very next day.

A 38 weeks pregnant ultrasound may be taken to see the size of your baby if the doctor feels the check. A biophysical profile may also be ordered, during which the baby’s movement, muscle tone, breathing, amniotic fluid and heart rate will be measured to determine if the doctor needs to deliver the baby before your due date.

In certain cases, the doctor may also choose to induce labor earlier for several reasons, such as pregnancy complications, those experiencing bleeding or for mothers carrying twins. 

Self-care tips for being 38 weeks pregnant

As close to the finishing this journey as you are, it is important to go through your weekly checklist with even more care, so you can walk these last few miles being healthy and prepared.

38 weeks pregnant

Healthy diet

Maintain your healthy diet in these last few laps, keep taking your prenatal vitamins and drink sufficient water daily.

Prepare for the birthing process and breastfeeding

It doesn’t hurt to revise on the things you may have learnt in your childbirth and breastfeeding classes. Go over your birth plan, brush up on the tips for the birthing process as well as on how to breastfeed your baby so you are somewhat prepared for the actual day. However, remember to still go easy on yourself, because you are learning and growing in this journey, too. 

Prepare some meals and freeze them

It is good to prepare some meals and store them in your freezer to be heated and eaten later. You can also ask your friends to help you out in the early days after the baby’s arrival. That way, you won’t have to go through too much trouble in making meals while also caring for your baby.

Finalize everything

Recheck your hospital bags, the baby’s nursery and car seat, decide who will be with you in the delivery room, etc. That way, you won’t have to make these decisions amidst labor pains and can fully focus on bringing your little one into this world.

These are the last few days you get to spend pampering yourself before your tiny one demands all your attention. So, spoil yourself, talk to your therapist, relax and spend time with the people you love. Leave positive reminders for yourself, saying that you are doing well and you will do well when the moment comes. You have come so far and you are still growing braver.