38 Weeks Pregnant (Fetal Age 36 Weeks)

Your baby gains weight, and is ready to go. Are you?

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38 weeks pregnant belly
38 weeks pregnant, both your baby's lanugo and vernix are disappearing. Still a newborn baby does not generally look as cute as in the commercials. Born vaginally, a baby is often both cone-headed, molded and bruised. (But still the cutest on earth..!) To learn about normal newborn appearance, click here. Babies born through a C-section are not nearly as funny-looking at the beginning.

For mom, it is time to read up on giving birth and make sure you ask your midwife about anything you want to know about the birthing process.

What to expect about...

Your Baby

38 weeks pregnant fetus
38 weeks pregnant, the size of your baby is still changing as he or she continues to grow inside of you for the last few weeks. Typically your child will range in size right now from approximately 6 to 6.5 pounds in size and stretch out to about 18 inches in length or more.

The lanugo that has covered your baby's skin during his or her time in the womb for protection is almost gone now, but could still be apparent during delivery on the upper back and shoulders.

Vernix may still show in the creases and folds of your baby's skin during delivery but should have almost completely disappeared.

The baby's intestines will continue to collect meconium, which is your little one's first bowel movement. This will be a tar-like substance that your baby will pass in the first few days and is completely normal.

Continued growth of an ounce a day is common for infants during this time of pregnancy, although the exact rate may differ from baby to baby.

Many infants will have a firm grasping reflex by now and have been sucking their thumb in utero for weeks now. To learn about your newborn baby's abilities, click here.

Shining lights on your abdomen will make your baby look the other way.

If you are expecting a boy, the testicles have descended into the scrotum; while for those parents who are waiting for a girl's arrival, the labia are completely developed.

If you want to learn more about what a newborn baby might look like, you'll find information here.


Mom's Body

Labor will be on your mind constantly during these last few weeks of pregnancy, which is quite normal.

For women who are experiencing birth for the first time (and second and third), you may find yourself anxious at the unknown, but remember that each delivery is different and there is no set way of delivering a baby.

You should know the difference between prelabor, false labor and real labor. Braxton-Hicks contractions are common and can be quite uncomfortable for many women, but are just part of your body getting ready for the big day.

Having knowledge about different ways to deal with the laboring process can help ease your mind. Learn about the stages of labor here.

There is no set way to deal with your contractions, so keep an open mind and be willing to try many different methods in order to find what works best for you during this time. The only truth is that breathing and relaxation helps, keeping your breath and being tense make things worse.

Many other concerns may come up when 38 weeks pregnant and during the weeks before your baby's birth. It may be helpful to have a list of questions to ask your doctor at your next visit or even for future reference once your baby is born. The decision to breastfeed your baby, circumcise your son, or even how long you may stay home from work after your baby's birth are all valid concerns that many women have once they give birth.

Talking to other women who have nursed or bottle-fed, and friends or family members can help shed some light on many of your anxieties that you may have and help you come to choices that will fit both you and your baby.

38 Weeks Pregnant Video

If seeing is believing for you; watch this video explaining pregnancy week 38 in pictures and words.

Diary of a Daughter

What's it really like being 38 weeks pregnant...? Here's a true diary from a 38 weeks pregnant mom-to-be. (Me..!)

Diary Of A Daughter

2 days into week 38 I gave birth to our little daughter!

I had some regular contraction that started at 9.30 am, but they weren't very painful. They disappeared in the afternoon, but then at 5.30 pm the water suddenly broke. Then everything went fast. At 9 pm our daughter was born.

Painful? Yes! Scary no, not at all. The breathing and relaxation that I had learned helped tremendously.

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Related Content

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MayoClinic (2011), Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy
Joanne Stone MD and Keith Eddleman MD (2008) The Pregnancy Bible: Your Complete Guide to Pregnancy and Early Parenthood
Nilsson, L; Hamberger, L. (2004) A Child Is Born.
Soderberg, L. (2010) Mammapraktika. B Wahlstroms.

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