What to Expect at 38 Weeks of Pregnancy- What You Need to Know

by Ella

The journey through pregnancy is a remarkable and transformative experience, and as you approach the 38-week mark, you’re in the final stretch. Your body has been working tirelessly to nurture and develop your baby, and soon, you’ll be welcoming your little one into the world. In this article, we’ll explore what to expect at 38 weeks of pregnancy, from the physical changes in your body to the preparations you should make for the upcoming arrival.


Physical Changes at 38 Weeks:

Weight Gain: By 38 weeks, most expectant mothers have gained around 25 to 35 pounds, but this can vary. You may continue to gain a bit more weight as your baby adds on some final ounces.


Baby’s Position: Your baby is likely in the head-down position, preparing for birth. If your baby is still in a breech or transverse position, your healthcare provider may discuss options, such as a possible external cephalic version (ECV) to encourage the baby to turn.


Braxton Hicks Contractions: You may experience Braxton Hicks contractions, also known as “practice contractions.” These are usually irregular and can be a sign that your body is preparing for labor.


Increased Pelvic Pressure: As your baby descends into the pelvis, you might notice increased pressure on your bladder and pelvis. This can make you feel the need to urinate more frequently and can lead to discomfort.

Swelling: Swelling in your feet and ankles can become more pronounced in the final weeks of pregnancy. To alleviate swelling, elevate your legs, wear comfortable shoes, and stay hydrated.

Vaginal Discharge: An increase in vaginal discharge is common at this stage, and it may be thicker or pink-tinged. This is usually a sign of your body preparing for labor.

Preparations for Labor and Delivery:

Hospital Bag: It’s time to pack your hospital bag with essentials for both you and your baby. Include clothing, toiletries, important documents, and anything that will help you feel more comfortable during your hospital stay.

Birth Plan: Discuss your birth plan with your healthcare provider. Your birth plan outlines your preferences for labor, delivery, and postpartum care. Be prepared to be flexible, as labor can be unpredictable.

Choosing a Pediatrician: Select a pediatrician for your baby, and ensure that you have their contact information readily available. Your baby will need to see a pediatrician for routine check-ups shortly after birth.

Install the Car Seat: Install your baby’s car seat in your vehicle well before your due date. Many hospitals require you to have an approved car seat to take your baby home.

Finalize Maternity Leave: If you’re employed, confirm your maternity leave plan with your employer. Make sure you understand your company’s policies regarding time off, pay, and any necessary paperwork.

Childbirth Classes: If you haven’t already, consider enrolling in childbirth classes. These classes provide valuable information on labor, delivery, and postpartum care, as well as an opportunity to ask questions and meet other expectant parents.

Your Baby’s Development:

By 38 weeks, your baby is nearly ready for their grand entrance into the world. Here’s what’s happening with your little one:

Size and Weight: Your baby has likely reached a length of about 19 inches and weighs approximately 6.8 pounds. Keep in mind that these measurements can vary.

Lanugo: Any fine, downy hair that covered your baby’s body, known as lanugo, is likely disappearing. Most of it was shed earlier and was swallowed by your baby, forming meconium, the baby’s first stool.

Vernix Caseosa: The white, waxy substance called vernix caseosa continues to protect your baby’s delicate skin. Some of it may remain on your baby’s skin at birth.

Lung Development: While the lungs are still maturing, they are nearly fully developed and ready for breathing outside the womb. Your baby’s respiratory system is one of the last systems to be prepared for life outside the uterus.

What to Look Out For:

As you approach your due date, watch for signs of labor. These can include:

Regular Contractions: Real contractions will be regular, become stronger over time, and may come with increasing frequency. Time them to see if they follow a consistent pattern.

Water Breaking: Sometimes labor begins with the rupture of the amniotic sac, causing amniotic fluid to leak. If this happens, contact your healthcare provider.

Bloody Show: A pink-tinged or bloody discharge is often a sign that labor is imminent.

Intense Back Pain: Back pain that intensifies and comes at regular intervals may be a sign of labor.

Baby’s Movements: You should still feel your baby move, but you may notice a decrease in the frequency of movements. If you’re concerned about decreased fetal movement, contact your healthcare provider.

The Final Weeks of Pregnancy:

The last few weeks of pregnancy are both exciting and challenging. You’re likely experiencing a range of emo

tions, from anticipation to anxiety. It’s important to have a strong support system in place, including your healthcare provider, friends, and family.

Remember to prioritize self-care. Rest as much as possible, maintain a balanced diet, and engage in relaxation techniques. Keeping stress levels in check is vital for both your well-being and your baby’s.

In these final weeks, trust your body, and know that it’s preparing for an incredible journey – the birth of your child. Take the time to celebrate this remarkable phase of your life, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns. Your little one will be in your arms before you know it, and the joy of motherhood awaits.


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