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38 Weeks Pregnant: A Complete Guide

38 Weeks Pregnant_ A Complete Guide

When you’re 38 weeks pregnant, you’re almost halfway through your 9th month of pregnancy.

Babies rarely come exactly by their due date. But if your baby’s still not quite ready for their grand entrance, I’ll tell you what you can expect when you’re in week 38.

Your Baby’s Development at Week 38

Your Baby’s Development at Week 38

Similar to 37 weeks, your baby is still finalizing a few things this week. But there are some notable things that show you just how much they’re preparing themselves for their birth.

Baby Starts Preparing for Birth

Your baby is almost ready!

They’re shedding their vernix and lanugo and swallowing amniotic fluid. 

The lungs are still maturing but have already strengthened. Vocal chords have also developed, so they’re ready to cry.

Your baby continues to add fat and fine-tune their brain and nervous system.

How Big Is My Baby at 38 Weeks?

By 38 weeks, your baby is 48 to 51 cm long, which is as big as a winter melon or mini watermelon! They’re also around 3.2 kg.

Your Body at 38 Weeks

Your body is working hard at preparing you for labor, delivery, and beyond! Keep taking those prenatal vitamins to keep giving your body and baby what they need.

It’s Almost Time to Give Birth

You should be giving birth in more or less two weeks.

You know some signs — such as easier breathing and more pelvic pressure thanks to your baby dropping to your pelvis. 

There are also signs you’re unaware of, like the changes in your cervix.

Colostrum

Colostrum is a yellowish liquid that comes before mature breast milk. This is actually more nutritious and better for your newborn’s stomach. 

You can certainly collect it to give to your baby later on. However, you should only hand express it since using a breast pump must be done after you give birth.

If the leaking colostrum bothers you, slip nursing pads in your bra.

Not all soon-to-be moms experience this. So, don’t worry if you’re not leaking anything yet.

Common Symptoms You May Experience

Common Symptoms You May Experience

By this time, you’re probably relieved that you’re no longer experiencing shortness of breath. After all, your baby isn’t pushing against your diaphragm anymore.

Unfortunately, you’re still experiencing a host of pregnancy symptoms.

1. Increased Vaginal Discharge

There are a few changes you may notice with your vaginal discharge. Normally, it’s just white, creamy, or clear. Some streaks of pink-red are alright too.

You might notice a thicker, mucus-y discharge that can be clear, yellowish, or brownish. This is the mucus plug — and it’s released (slowly or all at once) as your cervix dilates.

You might also notice a bloody discharge called “bloody show.” This happens when the cervix thins out in preparation for labor.

However, these aren’t sure signs of labor happening immediately. But it may be a sign that your baby is coming soon.

2. Digestive Issues

Your baby is big and low in your pelvis, pushing against your digestive system. Because of that, you might experience some problems — such as heartburn, indigestion, and diarrhea.

You can find ways to manage everything but perhaps diarrhea.

For instance, eat small meals if you’re prone to heartburn. Or, don’t eat too fast and avoid trigger foods if you’re prone to indigestion.

Unfortunately, pregnancy diarrhea is mostly because your body is still always making room for your baby.

3. Itchy Belly

When you’re 38 weeks pregnant, your belly is stretched as far as it can go, so it’s also more sensitive.

You can put on some baby oil or other doctor-approved products to soothe the itching.

4. Edema

As your baby grows, your uterus puts pressure on your pelvic veins and the vein that carries blood from your legs back to your heart. This slows the return of blood, so it pools and gets forced into the tissues of your legs.

There are several ways to relieve some of that pressure.

  • Avoid sitting and standing in one position for too long. Move around.
  • Elevate your feet.
  • Wear compression socks and comfortable shoes.
  • Stay hydrated.

5. Insomnia

The closer you get to your due date, the more difficult it can be to fall asleep.

After all, you might be worried about labor and delivery and if your baby will be in good health. On top of that, pregnancy symptoms like digestive problems and restless leg syndrome are also keeping you up.

Have good sleep hygiene to help you get your eyes shut.

6. Lightning Crotch

A lightning crotch is a sudden, sharp pain in your pelvis or groin. I’d say it’s similar to an electric shock. It lasts only a few seconds and is harmless.

Doctors think lightning crotch is caused by your baby’s head pushing against the nerves in your cervix and lower uterus.

Shifting positions can help make it go away. You can also use a belly band to help lighten your front tummy’s load.

7. Braxton Hicks Contractions

You might feel that these contractions are getting more intense now.

If you can make the contractions disappear by shifting positions, rest assured they’re still practicing contractions.

However, if they’re more painful and come at regular intervals, you might need to get into your labor and delivery gown since it’s likely the real thing already.

Tips to Help You Through Week 38

Tips to Help You Through Week 38

You can still do several things to ensure you’re as safe and comfortable as possible as your pregnancy progresses.

1. Learn to Maintain Your Balance

As you progress through your pregnancy, you might have noticed you’re not as solidly in control of your actions as you would have liked.

After all, you now have a pregnant belly throwing you off your center of gravity. On top of that, your ligaments and joints are loosening up.

You may be a little unstable on your feet, but here are a few things you can do to lower your risk of falling.

  • Wear comfortable flat shoes.
  • Avoid climbing and other situations that might cause you to lose your balance.
  • Wear a pregnancy sling.
  • Don’t rush.
  • Manage dizziness.

2. Double-Check Your Hospital Bag

You might have packed your hospital bag weeks in advance. But now that you’re nearing delivery, double-check your things again.

Do the clothes there still fit you? Do you still like the snacks you packed?

Change everything you want to change this early so you can just grab it when you’re off to the hospital.

3. Do Some Light Exercises

I know that at this point, you might not want to move any more than you need too. After all, having such a big belly makes moving around hard.

However, some light exercises can strengthen your body — which is important for childbirth.

Do pregnancy-safe exercises, like walking or pregnancy yoga. Squat exercises are also helpful since it increases the pelvic opening.

Also, keep doing perineal massages to lower the risk of your perineum tearing when your baby’s head starts peeking through the birth canal.

4. Keep Cool

You already know that pregnancy hormones can put your body out of whack.

For one, you might notice all that pregnancy-safe makeup melting off your face faster than you expected.

That’s because increased blood flow to the skin and increased metabolism can make you really sweaty.

There are many easy ways to keep yourself cool.

  • Wear loose, light clothing and drink lots of water. 
  • Open the windows or spend some time outside for fresh air. 
  • Crank up the aircon or electric fan.
  • Sprinkle talc-free powder on your skin.

5. Try Out Labor-Inducing Food

Medical science hasn’t exactly found “miracle food” that will bring about labor.

However, some foods have labor-inducing qualities that people swear by.

  • Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, which is thought to help soften the cervix and trigger contractions.
  • Spicy foods – I’ve been telling you to stay away from spicy foods since it can cause heartburn. However, it also irritates your intestines, which can cause cramping and uterine contractions if you’re already dilated.
  • Dates – Dates are high in fiber, and suddenly eating too much can cause cramping.

Trying out these labor-inducing foods won’t hurt as long as they don’t upset a healthy and balanced diet of fish, meats, fruits, and veggies.

Castor oil is also a common labor-inducer, but doctors don’t recommend it. That’s because it’s better known as a laxative.

It causes both the intestines and uterus to contract. That may sound like good news if you’re pregnant — unfortunately, it can also cause diarrhea and dehydration.

Conclusion

When you’re done with this week, you’re halfway through your 9th month of pregnancy.
Keep managing your symptoms and staying healthy to power through weeks 39 and 40 — you’re almost there!

Nayna Llenos
Nayna Llenos

Hi, I’m Nayna!
I’ve always wanted to be a mother, and I’m lucky and blessed to have two wonderful children to care for and love.
Despite this blessing, there are times wherein I do wonder if I truly am the mother my children need. Am I giving them the right food, care, and discipline to them?
But that is the beauty of parenting — you grow along with your children as they flourish to be their wonderful selves!
I wish to share my experiences with motherhood and how these tips can help you in your parenting journey.
I hope my advices and experiences will prove useful to you and that you have a smooth and wonderful journey as a mother!