38 weeks pregnant brings to a woman signs of labor, cramping and many other symptoms as discussed below.
A 38 weeks pregnant woman can expect only a few changes from this week and the remainder of the pregnancy. This is because fetal development is finally over and the baby is busy gaining more weight inside the womb. She may feel extremely exhausted and bloated. Labor and delivery may only be minutes, hours or days away.
Even if the baby is considered at term when a woman is already 38 weeks pregnant, the big day may come in a couple of weeks. During this waiting period, she should try to take it easy while having everything ready. She should look for signs of impending labor and take heed of anything unusual that is happening.
What to Expect at 38 Weeks Pregnant
- Weight gain
Women on their 38th week of pregnancy may have gained a total 25 to 30 pounds. Others may have put on more especially if they are carrying multiples or simply have a bigger body size.
- Prenatal visits
Internal exam is a regular thing from week 36 onwards. The doctor will check if the cervix has thinned and opened up. He/she will also see how the baby is doing as far as the head is concerned. The location of the baby’s head in the pelvis will help the doctor determine how close the woman is to labor.
- Labor and delivery
Because childbirth is impending, expectant moms should be aware of the signs of labor and it would be best to always have someone around. Contact numbers of the hospital/clinic, doctor and loved ones should be within reach too.
Fetal Development on the 38th Week of Pregnancy
The baby on week 38 weighs roughly 7.5 pounds and is about 20 inches long. Still, the birth weight differs with every child depending on the baby’s gender. His/her head may be filled with hair now. The amniotic fluid is steadily decreasing while more fat layers continue to accumulate underneath the baby’s skin. Even if the space inside the womb is getting tighter, the baby tries to remain active. Meanwhile, the intestines are making meconium, a dark-green substance which will later become the first bowel movement of the baby. This substance will be released soon after birth. By week 38, the baby has a very strong grasp which is evident by the curling of his/her fingers and holding the umbilical cord.
Symptoms of 38 Weeks Pregnant
- Bloody show
This is a blood-tinged vaginal discharge indicating that labor is on the way. Bloody show occurs as a result of the rupturing of veins in the cervix.
- Braxton-Hicks contractions
These contractions are becoming stronger and painful but get alleviated upon changing positions or resting.
This is relatively normal during this time as more fluid builds up in the tissues. Swelling is caused by the huge uterus putting more pressure onto the veins. Increased blood volume and poor blood flow to the ankles, feet and hands also contribute to swelling.
- Frequent urination
The huge uterus presses the bladder even harder, causing more frequent trips to the bathroom.
- Breast changes and leakages
The woman’s breasts are enlarged and leakage of the premilk substance called colostrum is a normal occurrence on week 38.
Waiting is what 38 weeks pregnant women can do during this time as they pay attention to any signs of labor.
38 weeks pregnant pictures