Week 38 of Pregnancy
Your Baby in Week 38 of Pregnancy
Hey, your little one isn’t so little anymore, weighing close to seven pounds and measuring 20 inches long. Fetal development is nearly complete as your baby tends to a few last-minute details like shedding the skin-protecting vernix and lanugo. He’s also producing more surfactant, a substance that prevents the air sacs in his lungs from sticking to one another once he starts to breathe. Most of the changes this week are small but important: He’s continuing to add fat (so he can take advantage of all those photo ops by sporting a round, cute baby look!) and fine-tuning his brain and nervous system (so he can deal with all the stimulation that awaits him once he makes his entrance into the world).
Learn more about how your baby prepares for birth in week 38.
Your Body in Week 38 of Pregnancy
Just as your baby is preparing for life outside the womb, your body is tending to its own final touches before the big day, one of which is getting that milk machine up and running. Part of the process is producing colostrums, a thin yellowish liquid that’s the precursor to breast milk. Colostrum is full of antibodies that protect your newborn, and it has more protein and less fat and milk sugar (the better to digest it) than the breast milk that arrives later. Chances are you’re leaking colostrum so you might want to break out those nursing pads now. If you’re not leaking but you are curious about this miracle substance, you can gently squeeze your areola to express a few drops.
Learn more about labor preparation and colostrum.
Week 38 Pregnancy Tip: Stocking Your Freezer
Have visions of yourself, newly delivered domestic goddess, whipping up gourmet meals in those postpartum weeks? Dream on. Cooking will be the last thing on your mind or your to-do list during those first few weeks (make that months) after delivery. Trust me, fitting in a three-minute shower will trump it for sure, as will using the bathroom when the urge strikes. To avoid serving Cheerios for dinner on a nightly basis (realistically, there will be nights when you will), plan ahead. Do some cooking and stock your freezer now with individually packaged, simple heat-and-serve options that you (or he!) can get on the table in a flash. Label carefully, so you won’t be left with UFOs (unidentified frozen objects). Good candidates for the freezer include hearty soups, stews, and casseroles, as well as mini–meat loaves. Have the baking itch? Satisfy it, and stash away several trays of bran muffins (don’t ask, you’ll need them). Another plan-ahead tip? If you don’t already have your favorite takeouts on speed dial, now’s a good time to enter them.
Learn more about preparing for childbirth.
Week 38 Pregnancy Symptoms
More frequent urination: If you’re going to the bathroom a lot these days, it’s likely that your baby’s head is in your pelvis, and it’s making less room for your bladder. You may want to skip caffeine and any other diuretic drinks now. Just don’t skip liquids altogether — you need fluids now so you can stay hydrated as you get closer to delivering.
Increased vaginal discharge: You may be experiencing more discharge now, and you may even pass the mucous plug — a clear glob of mucus that’s been corking your cervix throughout your pregnancy — as your cervix dilates. Does this mean that labor is imminent? Maybe. But it could be days, or even weeks, away.
Bloody show: The vaginal discharge can also be tinged a pinkish or brownish color as the blood vessels in the cervix rupture during dilation and effacement. Once your underwear (or toilet paper) is tinged pink or brown, it could mean that you’ll be face-to-face with your baby sooner rather than later.
Diarrhea: Loose bowel movements are nature’s way to make enough room for the baby to emerge, so if you’re having diarrhea this week it may mean that labor is imminent (yay!). Drink lots of water and eat lightly — broth, toast, and iced fruit pops are the way to go now. Skip fatty foods or anything that’s fiber-rich.
Itchy abdomen: One way to soothe an itchy belly? Slather on the vitamin E oil. In fact, you might want to stock up on an extra bottle of vitamin E capsules — it’s also great for sore nipples, which are in your near future if you’re planning to breastfeed.
Increased swelling of ankles and feet: If swollen ankles and feet are getting you down, now’s the time for some support — hose, that is. Make sure the tops aren’t too tight if you’re going for knee- or thigh-high hose. Put them on in the morning before the daily swelling starts.
Difficulty sleeping: Your mind is racing so much you can’t sleep. Don’t turn on the computer to get on the message boards or search for info on labor and delivery. That will just keep you up longer when you do go to bed. Instead, grab something low-tech &mdsh; a book or a magazine — and read for a bit. That will soothe you to sleep faster.
Fatigue or extra energy: A change in energy levels is pretty common this week. You may be increasingly exhausted or you may get a burst of energy (also known as the nesting instinct) as you try to organize and clean the house before the baby comes. Go ahead and clean, but don’t wear yourself out. Save that energy for childbirth instead of squandering it on a clean closet.
Enlarged breasts and colostrum: Your breasts may be bigger than they’ve ever been (though they will get even bigger!) and leaking colostrum. If they’re not leaky or bigger, don’t worry. Neither is a sign that you’ll have difficulty breastfeeding (if that’s what you plan to do).
Braxton Hicks contractions: These practice contractions may be getting more intense now. This is a good time to practice your breathing and visualization techniques. If your partner is around, make him practice along.