At 38 weeks pregnant you are approaching full-term pregnancy. Perhaps more than ever, you are feeling ready for the next step: childbirth! But before then, there is still a lot to know about this important week in your pregnancy.
We break down your 38th week day by day, so you know what to expect and what you should look out for as you get closer to your due date.
38 weeks pregnant in months
If you are at 38 weeks in your pregnancy you are in your third trimester; 8 months and approximately 2 weeks pregnant.
Your baby will continue to grow in size, gaining approximately 0.5 lbs per week in the final weeks of pregnancy. Your baby will start to fill out as that adorable squishy baby fat starts to accumulate around their knees, shoulders, and elbows.
How big is your baby at 38 weeks pregnant?
Your baby is as big as a bunch of leeks or Swiss chard! They will be around 19-20 inches long and weigh between 6-7 lbs on average.
Pregnancy week 38 fetal development
Your baby’s brain, lungs, and liver continue to grow in the final weeks of pregnancy, which is one of the reasons why it’s important to deliver at full term, or as close to full term as possible.
The lanugo (the fuzzy, soft hair that coats your baby’s skin) will be gone or nearly gone by now.
Your baby’s bowels will also be storing its first poo, called meconium, which it will pass after delivery. Meconium is a slimy substance that is made up of anything your baby may have swallowed in the uterus.
The biggest change you might notice in your body at 38 weeks pregnant is an increase in pressure in your lower abdomen. Around this time is when your baby will start to change its position in the womb; with the head facing downward in the pelvis.
At 38 weeks pregnant you may be feeling uncomfortable in your body. Your body will feel heavier and you may struggle to find a comfortable position to sit, sleep or even stand for long periods of time. Try to wear clothing that makes you feel as comfortable as possible during this time.
You may find it helpful to choose the right pregnancy bra for you, which will accommodate your changing breast size. Also, your nipples may start to leak colostrum, a nutrient-rich liquid, so don’t be alarmed if you notice wetness or yellow stains in your bra.
38 weeks pregnant belly
At 38 weeks pregnant, your belly may look like it has “dropped,” showing the appearance of being lower towards your pelvis. This new shape is a result of baby’s changing position in the uterus.
38 weeks pregnant symptoms
As your pregnancy progresses, you may notice that you don’t experience as many new symptoms, but instead, your existing symptoms are intensified. At 38 weeks pregnant you may experience:
- insomnia, fatigue or difficulty sleeping
- indigestion and heartburn (until the baby’s position changes)
- swelling in your hands and feet
- feeling dizzy or light-headed
- backaches, especially in the lower back, or upper back
- bloating and constipation
- feeling hot or overheated
- increased vaginal discharge called a “mucus plug”
What you eat during pregnancy can help mitigate some pregnancy symptoms. Make sure your meals are nutritious and you are staying well hydrated — even if that means you have to pee all the time!
You may also experience Braxton Hicks contractions, which are sporadic and usually painless contractions that are your body’s way of preparing for real labor. If your contractions become consistent or cause intense pain or bleeding, contact your doctor immediately.
Your prenatal appointment at 38 weeks may include an ultrasound, which will check your baby’s position inside the womb. If your baby is still in the breech position (feet first), your doctor may recommend a procedure called ‘external cephalic version’ to try and reposition the baby with their head facing down towards the pelvis.
If your pregnancy is normal and your baby appears healthy, this may be your last ultrasound!
You have made it this far and you may feel like you just want to give birth already. But be patient! Try and enjoy these final weeks as relaxed and stress-free as you can.
Make time for gentle exercise or go out and meet with friends if you’re feeling cooped up at home. Make sure you continue to nourish yourself and your baby with a healthy, balanced diet. It’s also a good idea to stock the freezer with ready-made and nutritious meals for yourself, so you don’t have to worry about cooking once the baby arrives.
Sex at week 38 of pregnancy
It is perfectly safe to have sex at 38 weeks. The trick is to find a position that feels comfortable! Having pleasurable sex can also boost your mood, which can help relieve any stress and anxiety you might be feeling during this time.
Now that you know more about your body and your baby at 38 weeks pregnant, you may be wondering: what’s next? Here is a daily checklist of things you can do to make the most of your 38th week of pregnancy, and prepare for childbirth.
38 weeks 1 day pregnant
If you haven’t already, now is a good time to get your hospital bag ready. Think of everything you might need at the hospital to feel comfortable and prepared for baby’s arrival; put things for yourself, your birth partner, and newborn in your hospital bag. It’s a good idea to pack this bag now, so you’re not in rush trying to put one together during labor!
38 weeks 2 days pregnant
If you have been attending prenatal fitness classes or birthing lessons, you may find it helpful to practice the techniques. Practice your preferred breathing or relaxation techniques or body movements that you plan on using during labor. Just don’t try pushing yet!
38 weeks 3 days pregnant
Time to get the baby room ready! Many women feel the overwhelming urge to prepare for baby’s at-home arrival in the final weeks of their pregnancy. This is called “nesting” and it’s very common to want to organize the baby’s room and even the whole house!
Make sure you ask for help if you need it and try not to feel overwhelmed with your organizing efforts.
38 weeks 4 days pregnant
Halfway through your 38th week of pregnancy is a good time to have a clear picture of your birth plan. Whether you are planning for a home birth or hospital birth, make sure you know where to go, who will be there and what you’ll need when it’s go time.
38 weeks 5 days pregnant
At 38 weeks and five days, familiarize yourself with what to expect during labor and delivery. Get prepared for childbirth by reading more Flo articles or ask your health care provider any questions if you are still unsure.
38 weeks 6 days pregnant
Create your call list. Compile a list of the names and phone numbers of people you will need to reach when you go into labor and when the baby is born. Include your doctor or midwife’s contact information, and information for the babysitter or pet sitter if you have little ones at home that will need to be taken care of while you’re in labor.
38 weeks 7 days pregnant
Once you reach 39 weeks pregnant, you can celebrate that your baby has reached full-term! You have worked hard to get here, so find a simple way to celebrate this milestone. Go to the spa or salon, enjoy a special meal with friends or family or just take a moment to appreciate how far you and your baby have come.
What to ask your doctor?
At 38 weeks pregnant your doctor may perform a routine blood pressure check and test your urine for protein deposits that could indicate complications like preeclampsia.
Your baby could come at any time now, so it’s important that you feel as prepared as possible to give birth.
Remember, your due date is just a guideline. As you progress through your third trimester, make sure you feel prepared for labor and delivery, and that you’re ready at home for when the baby arrives.