We will discuss what you will experience during your 38 weeks of pregnancy…
At 38 weeks pregnant, you are more than ready to deliver. Your are tired, wobbly, uncomfortable and most of all, ready to finally meet your baby. You may be experiencing anxiety and find yourself running around in a frenzy as your nesting instinct takes over. This is perfectly normal.
Your baby at 38 weeks pregnant
Your baby weighs close to seven pounds and is about 21 inches long. He/she is continuing to shed the remaining vernix and laugo and swallow the remaining amniotic fluid which will be processed in the intestines and, after birth, will become your baby’s first bowel movement.
And in case you were wondering, the placenta is about 6-8 inches long, one inch thick and weighs about a pound. The umbilical cord is will average around 21 inches, but can be anywhere from 12-39 inches in length.
Your baby has less room to move around now so movements may slow down a bit, but your baby will be stretching their arms and legs on a fairly regular basis and you may even feel your baby hiccupping as s/he swallows the amniotic fluid. Your baby’s organs are all fully developed, with the exception of the lungs, which will continue to develop until birth.
One big development that occurs this week is that your baby’s tear ducts will begin to form. This is a major event as crying main way your baby will communicate for the first year of their life. Also, your baby’s sex organs are fully visible via ultrasound so if you do not wish to know the sex of your baby, you will not want to glance at the ultrasound pictures from now until birth.
Your body at 38 weeks pregnant
At 38 weeks pregnant your body is preparing for childbirth as your baby is moving into the fetal position. This will cause you to feel pressure on your pelvis and possibly your uterus. You cervix is also starting to dilate but chances are you will not feel this in the least. Your doctor will be able to determine how many centimeters you are dilated at your weekly check-ups.
You will notice that your breasts feel much heavier and you may experience some leakage as your breasts are producing the colostrum which will nourish your baby the first few days as you breastfeed your newborn. To ease the discomfort and tenderness in your breasts, you may want to switch to nursing bras for extra support, especially while sleeping.
Other symptoms at 38 weeks pregnant
Other symptoms at 38 weeks pregnant are edema in the feet, face and ankles, insomnia, itchy belly, sore nipples, a mucusy pinkish vaginal discharge, increased urination, diarrhea and fatigue. Another symptom you may experience that you have not until this point is “lightning crotch” which occurs when the baby touches the nerves in your pelvis, causing you to feel a sharp, shooting sensation through your legs and even in your pelvic and vaginal regions.
Braxton Hicks contractions will continue as your body is preparing for labor. Some scientists believe that these are helping your cervix stretch and prepare for delivery. If these contractions do not decrease if you change positions or activity, they could in fact be true labor contractions. If they increase in frequency and strength, they are most likely true labor contractions and you should contact your doctor. True labor contractions are increasingly powerful and usually occur within ten minute intervals. Other signs of true labor include the obvious signs such as water breakage, dilation and crowning, but you must also experience frequent diarrhea, mucus or bloody discharge and vomiting.
Your nesting instincts are growing stronger and as your body wavers between fatigue and sudden bursts of energy, you may find yourself scampering around to make the final preparations for your little one’s arrival. It is important that you do not push yourself and that you make certain that you are getting the proper amount of rest these last for weeks for both you and your baby. Do not hesitate to ask friends, family and your care providers for help if needed. Avoid heavy lifting, climbing ladders and other strenuous activities. Rest when you are tired and don’t try to do too much at once.
Getting ready for delivery
You should also finalize your birth plan and provide copies to those who will need it. Carry a copy with you at all times. Pre-pack your hospital stay bag and make sure that it is easily accessible. You and your partner may want to tour your birthing facility and ask any questions you may have regarding your birth plan. It also cannot hurt to make a few practice runs to the hospital to determine the quickest possible route.
At 38 weeks pregnant you must continue to eat healthy and take any supplements and vitamins that have been prescribed by your doctor. Light exercise is still recommended and even encouraged, unless you are on bed rest or strict orders by your physician. Walking for 20-30 minutes a day is the form of exercise at this stage.
Pay close attention to your body. If you start to experience any of the early labor signs mentioned above, contact your doctor or midwife immediately. If you start to experience any of the following symptoms such as severe headache or cramping, heavy bleeding or discharge, dizziness, vertigo or fainting, bruising easily, severe pain in your right side or stomach, intense lower back pain, high blood pressure, severe facial swelling or excessive swelling in feet, ankles, arms, hands or legs as these could all be signs of pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, placental abruption or other serious pregnancy complications. You should seek immediate medical help if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.