Updated: 2019, Jul 26

38 Weeks Pregnant: What Is Happening To You and Your Baby?

Baby is now considered to be full-term, even though your official due date is still two weeks away. 85% of babies are born within two weeks of their due date.
38 Weeks Pregnant: What Is Happening To You and Your Baby?
Your baby will start to fill out as that adorable baby fat begins to accumulate around their knees, shoulders, and elbows. Shutterstock images.

Mothers impatiently wait for their baby, but the waiting is still not over. Approximately 10% of women describe childbirth as painful experience, 10% describe it as painless, and the other 80% are somewhere in the middle.

However, future mothers should bear in mind that childbirth and pain tolerance is different from one woman to another.

This article provides an overview on the fetal development, maternal changes, signs and symptoms and some interesting facts about the 38th week of pregnancy.

Did you know that total volume of blood is 50% higher than usual and cardiac output is increased by 40% during pregnancy[1]? Women produce 20% extra red blood cells in order to carry oxygen to their body.

Height: 19.61 inches 49.8 cm
Weight: 6.80 pounds 3083 grams

What Happens to the Baby?

Babies grow in weight for around 25-30g per day. Head and stomach stay the same. Meconium accumulates in the fetus’ intestines which will be the baby’s first stool.

The fetus now has hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes. All excessive hair is lost during this week, and the greasy layer will stay only on the upper part of the back. Amniotic fluid[2] has milky (white) color, which is a sign that baby is healthy and comfortable in its house.

Baby’s lungs and other organs are now healthy and ready for life outside of the mother’s womb. Even though the baby is fully developed and ready, the brain and the nervous system continue developing.

What Happens to the Mother?

The waiting game is almost over. Some mothers may experience ‘current’ flowing along their legs, but that is nothing serious. The fetus presses some nerves, and the reaction manufactures in the leg.

False contractions are emerging, and it is important to tell the difference. The main difference between false and true contractions is the frequency and span of the contractions. While regular contraction happens one after another in regular intervals, false don’t.

Another difference is the spot where they emerge. Regular contractions start at the top of the uterus and then spread through the whole uterus. False contractions can be felt on different parts of the body (back and pelvis, for example).

Regular contractions grow stronger and last longer, and they last up to 50 seconds. A common way to recognize false contraction is to lie down, and they stop. Meanwhile, as childbirth is approaching, cervical tightens, and bleeding can be seen.

Feet and ankles start to swell, which is common for the last few weeks. For severe swelling, consult your physician. Future mothers may also experience continuous migraine, visual blurring, and sensitivity on light, common symptoms for preeclampsia. It is recommended to contact your physician.

Info 38 Weeks pregnant

All the information for becoming a healthy pregnant mother and your baby. Consumer Health Digest Images

Tips at 38th Week of Pregnancy

It is recommended for future mothers to ask for Streptococcus type B results and exams. If the results are not in your medical card, mothers can provide the information to their physician and nurses.

This is needed in case the mother needs antibiotics. Streptococcus type B is one of the most common causes for meningitis[3] and septicemia. Babies get the infection during childbirth, as these bacteria can populate the vagina.

Infections emerge during the first days of childbirth or the first week of life. Meanwhile, pregnant mothers should drink extra fluids and consume more fruits and vegetables so to stay hydrated and to ensure optimal nutrition for the baby.

Additional information: What to Include in your Hospital Bag?

As the expected delivery date is incoming, mothers should start preparing themselves for the childbirth by preparing what items to carry in their hospital bag. These are some of the stuff mothers need to carry for themselves:

  • Personal hygiene accessories (toothbrush, tooth paste, soap, shampoo for washing)
  • At least 3 towels
  • At least 2 packs of pads
  • A bottle of water (you will need it the most) / alternative back up is ice tea or apple juice for after childbirth
  • Wet wipes
  • For breastfeeding: pump, cotton pads and something to protect your breasts
  • For the baby, mothers need to pack:
  • Diapers (several)
  • Towel to clean, wipe out the baby
  • Clothes (bodysuit)
  • Baby wipes
  • Cream to apply on the baby’s dry skin.

All these are common and imperative. However, some mothers may want to carry additional stuff. For example, a book or an mp3 player to help them relax while they wait to go in labor.


Peony C Echavez

Peony is a registered nurse and former Director of Nursing services for a large nursing facility. She has written web content for a lar

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