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38 Weeks Pregnant: Week-by-Week Guide

38 Weeks Pregnant: Week-by-Week Guide

Congratulations! You’re 38 weeks pregnant and in the home stretch with only two more weeks to go. What can you expect as you count down the days to your baby’s arrival? Check out this guide to find out what’s in store for your body and your baby at 38 weeks.

  • What trimester is 38 weeks? Third trimester.
  • How many weeks of pregnancy are left? Two.
  • How many months is 38 weeks pregnant? You’re in your ninth month.

With week 37 of your pregnancy complete, you’re on week 38. Enjoy it, as week 39 is on the horizon!

One of the most exciting things about pregnancy is how many changes you’ll experience with your little one over the span of just seven days! Here are some tips and tricks to keep on top of all that’s happening.

Your baby at 38 weeks pregnant:

What’s happening in there

  • Your baby is the size of a winter melon.
  • You’re in the ninth month of pregnancy and the third trimester.
  • The countdown continues: You’ve got two weeks to go!

What happens during the 38th week of pregnancy?

  • Slow and steady: The average baby at 38 weeks weighs about 6.5 pounds. While some babies add fat to their frame at a slower pace, others may not gain at all during these last few weeks. Their height is anywhere from 17 to 20 inches from head to toe. Remember, every baby is different.
  • Pedi time: A few weeks ago, your baby’s fingernails were fully formed. Now, their toenails have caught up, reaching the tips of the toes—and they’re possibly already in need of a bit of trimming.
  • Bye, peach fuzz: Your baby continues to shed lanugo, the fuzzy hair that has been covering them since early in your second trimester. The intestines are gathering the lanugo, along with dead skin cells and digested amniotic fluid, to create your baby’s first poop. This waste, called meconium, will look tarry and greenish-black to whoever is on the inaugural diaper duty.
  • Funny face: All the sucking and swallowing that your little one has been doing is good practice for eating when they’re born. Your baby is also developing the muscles that will allow them to make facial expressions—so they can begin to communicate with you and those around them.
  • Make some noise: At 38 weeks pregnant, your baby’s lungs have matured to the point where they’re ready to work with the vocal cords to let out their first cry—and second, and third!
  • Boy or girl?: Your baby’s reproductive system is fully formed. If your little one is a boy, his testes are in their final resting position in your baby’s scrotum. Having a girl? Her labia are completely formed.

What should I be feeling at 38 weeks pregnant?

  • You may have an overwhelming urge to clean, cook, or get organized. This nesting instinct is expected, so have fun with it. Just be careful not to overextend yourself.
  • On the flip side, you may also feel tired. Everything from leg cramps to heartburn to back pain may be keeping you awake at night. Try a few pregnancy sleep strategies to encourage some quality Zzs.

How big is your baby at 38 weeks pregnant?

38 Weeks Pregnant

Baby Weight Between 6.5 and 7.5 pounds
Baby Length Between 17 to 20 inches
Baby Size Comparable to a winter melon

Baby position at 38 weeks

Your little superstar is getting ready to roll and has likely settled into the birthing position: head-down, facing your back, with their chin tucked and their legs up by your ribs. However, some babies are still head-up at this stage, meaning they are breech. This position can make vaginal birth difficult, but there are steps you and your doctor can take that may help your baby change position before labor.

Symptoms of labor at 38 weeks

At 38 weeks, you’re considered early full term. Your bundle of joy could be making their debut any day, or birth may be weeks away. Nature has its own timing. Watch for these signs of labor at 38 weeks.

  • You may notice a clear, yellowish discharge, which could indicate loss of the mucus plug. Your mucus plug has been acting as a barrier to your uterus, protecting your baby from outside bacteria and infection. This often-missed symptom means your cervix is starting to dilate or efface (thin) and is preparing for labor.
  • Keep an eye out for what’s known as the “bloody show,” a blood-tinged mucus discharge. It’s a sign that labor could begin very soon, possibly within the next day. The blood shouldn’t be a lot, however, and if it’s enough to need a pantyliner or pad, call your doctor right away.
  • Did you know diarrhea may be a sign of labor? Many women have loose bowel movements within a day or two of labor. You may also experience nausea. Remember that from back in the day?
  • Your water may break, meaning your amniotic sac has ruptured, causing a leak of amniotic fluid. It’s not that big dramatic gush depicted in movies and TV; it’s more like a trickle. Call your doctor if you believe your water has broken as it’s a sign that labor is imminent—and may actually already have started.
  • Move over Braxton Hicks contractions and make way for the real deal. True labor contractionsincrease in frequency, continue to intensify, and don’t let up with a change in position. They may also be accompanied by lower back pain.

38 weeks pregnant symptoms

During week 38 of pregnancy, your body is changing quickly. As your baby grows, you will too, and there are certain pregnancy symptoms you may experience at this time.

5 common week 38 pregnancy symptoms

  1. The symptom that’s probably on the top of your mind is labor. Signs of labor include diarrhea, nausea, loss of the mucus plug, the bloody show, your water breaking, and contractions.
  2. Whether it’s pain in the vagina, rectum, back, hips, or legs, chances are you’ll be experiencing some aches and discomfort these last couple of weeks. Your baby is resting on sensitive nerves and your ligaments are loose. Call your doctor if you have any concerns.
  3. Your belly may be itching as a result of hormones and the expanded skin. Use moisturizing lotions, stay hydrated, and avoid taking overly hot baths or showers. Hang in there! Soon you’ll be cuddling your cutie on that belly.
  4. Your need to pee frequently will continue as your little one rests on your bladder.
  5. Puffiness is par for the pregnancy course. Edema, swelling in your hands, ankles, and feet due to water retention and increased blood and fluid volume, is common. Drinking plenty of fluids and eating foods high in potassium are a couple of things you can do to help reduce swelling. While most swelling is normal, sudden swelling in your face, hands, and around the eyes could be a red flag for serious conditions such as preeclampsia and deep vein thrombosis (DVD). Contact your doctor if you notice any swelling that concerns you.

Mom's tip of the week

Did you know...?

Your baby’s brain is still developing. It’s continuing to grow and weighs about 14 ounces. In this late pregnancy stage, keep up your intake of the brain-nourishing nutrient DHA through your diet and a prenatal supplement with expert-recommended DHA levels (200 milligrams daily while pregnant or breastfeeding). You're 38 weeks pregnant, and your baby will soon be in your arms. Your little one’s brain will continue to make new connections for many years.

Pregnancy health

Real issues, real solutions

The issue: Not all breast milk is equal in nutritional value.
The solution: If you're planning to breastfeed, you can give your milk a nutritional boost with a few smart strategies. More info you might find helpful:

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