38 Weeks Pregnant
- July 15, 2021
- by Melissa Lawrence
Welcome to Week 38 of your pregnancy. Though I gave birth to my sixth baby Bracey at Week 30, I plan to continue along this journey with you up until Week 42. In all likelihood, you’ll give birth before then so hopefully you’re feeling prepared. Let’s get down to business and learn about the final weeks of your pregnancy, starting right now with Week 38.
38 Weeks Pregnant: Recurring Symptoms
38 Weeks Pregnant: Common Symptoms
This is quite the opposite of the constant constipation problem you may have been facing over the course of your whole pregnancy, right? In order to empty the bowels so as to allow the uterus to contact efficiently, your body gets rid of good ole #2! Diarrhea often occurs before the onset of labor so this could a sign that you will be meeting your baby shortly.
In preparation for labor, your cervix will begin to dilate. This may occur a couple of weeks in advance or only a day or two prior to delivery. Dilation occurs so that your little one can fit through the birth canal. Once you’re in the active stage of labor, you will wait until your cervix is dilated 10 cm (about the length of a bagel!) before you can begin pushing.
Effacement of the cervix is another intimidating word that applies to the state of your cervix as you get ready to deliver your baby. (It’s all about the cervix!) Effacement refers to the thickness of your cervix, which will begin to thin as labor approaches. Your cervical length starts out at about 3-4 inches. However, once you’ve reached 100% effacement, it will be as thin as a sheet of paper. When your cervix is 100% effaced, you’ll be in the middle of labor, meaning it will be time to deliver your baby!
Stages of Fetal Development: Baby Growth & Size at 38 Weeks
At week 38 of pregnancy, your baby weighs 7 pounds and is 19 to 20 inches long, about the size of rhubarb. Remember the cheesy varnish — vernix caseosa — that has covered your baby in a protective layer of goop? Starting this week, the cheese will begin to go away, leaving your baby exposed to the amniotic fluid. Trace amounts may remain, but you might notice later that your newborn baby experiences skin peeling as a result of having been exposed to the amniotic fluid 24/7.
Although your baby’s major organ systems are up and running, both the lungs and brain aren’t yet fully mature and won’t be until several years into life. Wondering what color your baby’s eyes are? At birth, they’ll be either blue, gray, or brown; however in the first two years of life, this can change. So while your baby’s eyes may appear blue at birth, they easily could turn green by age 1.
In other news, your baby’s brain is hard at work, working to maintain certain biological functions, like breathing and swallowing. Your body is working hard too: your cervix may begin to dilate and efface (thin out) beginning this week in preparation for labor!
Fun Fact About Pregnancy
Your baby is so special and unique: of the 100 million sperm that are ejaculated, only 1 will fertilize your egg!
Inducing Labor (Artificially & Naturally)
It’s getting close to your big day!! You may be anxiously anticipating (or dreading) those contractions, but sometimes you may need a jumpstart. Your doctor may recommend inducing labor artificially if you’re overdue or for several other reasons. There are also some steps you can take at home to induce labor. Natural induction methods aren’t all backed up by scientific research, so before trying some of them, be sure to get your doctor’s affirmation.
Your Pregnancy at 38 Weeks: Prenatal Appointments
At week 38 of pregnancy, the following prenatal tests are available:
Week by Week Pregnancy Food Guide
Quick, Healthy Snack Tip
Baked Pears with Walnuts and Honey: Cut pears in half and scoop out the seeds. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon, walnuts, and a ½ teaspoon of honey over each half. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Enjoy! (SkinnyTaste)
Why Pears? Pears are fruits that come from pear trees. These delicious fruits are very nutritious, containing great amounts of folate, copper, potassium, and provitamin A. Combined, these nutrients allow pears to support energy production, encourage a healthy gut, and deliver an anti-inflammatory effect on your body.
How Many Weeks in 9 Months?
9 months in weeks equals about 36-40 weeks depending on the months during which you have been pregnant.
Week 38 Pregnancy Checklist
- Prepare and freeze some meals for your return from the hospital
- Drink lots of water
- Get lots of rest
- Binge watch a new show
- Schedule your week 39 prenatal appointment
- Review the material you learned during child birthing class
- Buy a stool softener to use after you return from the hospital (you’ll need it!)
- What to Expect & What to Expect When You’re Expecting – 5th Edition (2016)
- The Bump
- Baby List
- The Mama Natural Week to Week Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth (2017)
- Mayo Clinic’s Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy – Second Edition (2018)
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists