The size of a baby at 38 weeks is similar to a bunch of rhubarb. They are approximately 49.3cm from the top of their head to their heel (crown-heel length). Curled up, they are 34.6cm from the top of their head to their buttocks (crown-rump length). They weigh roughly 3.2kg.
As you’re approaching your due date, keep in mind that the above numbers are just based on averages. Your baby may be bigger or smaller and still be perfectly healthy.
Your baby at 38 weeks
Your baby’s developments towards the end of pregnancy might be small, but they’re still very important. Here is an update on what’s going on in the womb this week.
Getting ready to cry
Your little one’s powerful vocal cords are developed and their lungs are continuing to strengthen and produce surfactant. This substance will prevent the air sacs from sticking together once your baby starts breathing.
Your baby is shedding their lanugo, which is the soft, thin hair that covers their body in the womb. By the time they are full-term, most of this hair will be gone. Although, some might remain on their arms and shoulders at birth.
38 weeks delivery?
A baby born at 38 weeks is still considered early term by most health professionals. Developments are still taking place in the womb right up until the average period of gestation (40 weeks). It’s not until week 39 that a term pregnancy is reached.
If you’re having a scheduled cesarean section and your pregnancy is healthy, the earliest your baby will be delivered is at 39 weeks.
Your body at 38 weeks pregnant
By this point in pregnancy, your body is getting ready to go into labour. You may notice some new signs this week that signal delivery is near. Here are some of the more typical 38 weeks pregnant symptoms.
- Braxton Hicks contractions. Also referred to as “false labour pains”, Braxton Hicks contractions are a common late pregnancy symptom. Although they might feel like actual contractions, they don’t require medical attention, and usually go away when you get up and move around or drink more water.
Real contractions grow in intensity and become more frequent as time passes. They usually bring on lower back pain or a similar feeling to menstrual cramps.
- Bloody show. If you find a small amount of blood in your vaginal discharge, this is what’s referred to as a bloody show. As you begin to dilate, the expansion of your cervix may cause slight bleeding. For some women, the bloody show might signal labour is just hours or days away, but it can also happen weeks before delivery.
- Diarrhoea. Loose stool and/or frequent bowel movements could be a sign that labour is near. Diarrhoea is thought to be your body’s way of clearing out the bowels so the uterus is able to contract more effectively. If you’re experiencing frequent diarrhoea, remember to drink plenty of water to keep hydrated.
- Pelvic pressure. As your baby drops into your pelvic region in preparation for birth, you may feel an increase in pressure on your hips, back, and pelvis. Your body is also producing increased levels of the hormone relaxin. This softens your joints and ligaments, causing a slight change in your musculoskeletal system.
- Leaking colostrum. The first breastmilk your baby will receive is called colostrum. It’s yellow in colour and packed with the nutrients your newborn needs for their first few days of life. Don’t be surprised if you see a few drops in your bra before the baby arrives, it’s perfectly normal to leak a little beforehand.
- Nausea. Although most people associate nausea as an early pregnancy symptom, it can crop up again late in your third trimester too. It might also be a sign that labour is about to start.
To help your stomach settle, try and eat several small meals throughout the day rather than three larger meals. Also, stick to easy to digest foods, like rice, toast, smoothies, etc.
Taking care of yourself during week 38 of pregnancy
As your due date fast approaches you may be feeling a variety of emotions. Here are some important self-care tips and helpful reminders that will serve you especially useful this week.
- Practice breathing exercises. When you go into labour, breathing exercises will help you relax and better manage the pain and discomfort you feel. You can find different exercises online, but generally, you need to practice slow deep breaths. Inhale through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Focus on low-impact exercise. Towards the end of pregnancy, low-impact exercises, like walking and swimming are great options for staying active. Swimming is easy on your joints and will help alleviate uncomfortable symptoms, like back pain. Walking can help your baby drop further into the pelvis which can help induce labour.
Exercise is also great for your mental health and can relieve some of the stress and anxiety surrounding labour.
- Go over your birth plan with your birth partner. Your birth partner can be your significant other, or a relative or friend. They will be by your side during labour and delivery to provide emotional support.
Make sure to go over your birth plan with them before you get to the hospital so you’re both on the same page. When the contractions get strong, you might find it difficult to communicate with the hospital staff. Your birth partner can serve as your voice and relay your wants and needs for you.