38 weeks pregnant, both your baby’s lanugo and vernix are disappearing. Nevertheless, a newborn baby can look a bit odd if born vaginally – often cone-headed, molded, and bruised. (But still the cutest baby on earth..! :-)) To learn about the normal newborn appearance, click here. Babies born through a C-section are not nearly as funny-looking in the beginning.
For mom, it is time to read up on giving birth and make sure to ask your midwife about anything you want to know about the birthing process.
- A Parent's Guide to a Confident Birth (This is a FREE class by an experienced labor nurse. If nothing else, sign up for this one!)
- Childbirth Preparation: A Complete Guide for Pregnant Women
- Perfect Pregnancy Guide: Yoga, Meditation, Checkups and More
What to Expect at 38 Weeks Pregnant
In this article:
Your Baby’s Development
The fetal age of your baby is now 36 weeks.
His or her size 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 (2.7-3 kg) and stretch out to about 18 inches in length (46 cm) or more.
Fetal Development When 38 Weeks Pregnant
The lanugo hair 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 the child’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.
The continued growth of an ounce a day (30gr) is common for infants during this time of pregnancy, although the exact rate will, of course, 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, read 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.
Labor may 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.
Something very good to learn is the difference between pre-labor, 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. They are NOT real pre-labor contractions.
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 help while holding your breath and being tense make things worse.
Many other concerns may come up 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.
This online breastfeeding course is of great help too!
Week 38 Pregnancy Video
Diary of a Daughter
What’s it really like being 38 weeks pregnant…? Here’s a true diary from a mom who should have been 38 weeks pregnant. (Me..!)
2 days into week 38 I gave birth to our little daughter!
I had some regular contractions 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.
Are you also 38 weeks pregnant? Please share your experiences and thoughts by leaving a comment below!
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Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy
Joanne Stone MD and Keith Eddleman MD, The Pregnancy Bible: Your Complete Guide to Pregnancy and Early Parenthood
Nilsson, L; Hamberger, L. A Child Is Born
Soderberg, L., Mammapraktika. B Wahlstroms.
Mittendorf et al (1990), The Length of Uncomplicated Human Gestation, Obstetrics & Gynecology, V.75, N.6, June 1990