Week 38 of Your Pregnancy

Pregnancy Week by Week: Week 38

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

At 38 weeks pregnant, your baby is nearing full term and complete maturity. You may literally be breathing a little easier as baby moves lower into your pelvis reducing upper abdominal pressure. That said, just getting up to get a glass of water may feel like a chore.

38 Weeks Pregnant Is How Many Months? 9 months and 2 weeks

Which Trimester? Third trimester

How Many Weeks to Go? 2 weeks

Your Baby's Development at 38 Weeks

At 38 weeks, a baby is over 13 1/2 inches (34.6 centimeters) from the top of their head to the bottom of their buttocks (known as the crown-rump length), and baby's height is almost 19 1/2 inches (49.3 centimeters) from the top of their head to their heel (crown-heel length). This week, baby weighs about 7 pounds (3,186 grams).

At 38 weeks pregnant, your baby is about the length of the NoseFrida
Verywell / Bailey Mariner 

Birth Weight and Length

It's important to note that the numbers above are general guidelines based on averages. Your baby may be a little bigger or smaller than these measurements at birth. In fact, a healthy newborn's length (height) can range from 17 3/4 inches (45 centimeters) to nearly 22 inches (55 centimeters), while their birth weight can be between 5 1/2 pounds (2,500 grams) to 10 pounds (4,500 grams).

Lanugo

By week 38, your baby is shedding the soft, fine hair (known as lanugo) that covers their body in utero. Most of this hair is typically gone before a full-term baby is born—although some hair may remain on the baby's shoulders and arms.

Eyes

Your baby's eye color may be a dark blue-gray right now (and at birth), but that doesn't mean it will stay that way. Your baby's final eye color will depend on how much of a protein called melanin your baby produces. But, it can take up to a year for the iris, or the part of the eye that has color, to reach its final color of brown, blue, green, hazel, or somewhere in between.

Early Term

A pregnancy is considered full term at 39 weeks. From 37 weeks through 38 weeks and 6 days, babies are considered "early term." While a baby is just about ready for birth at 38 weeks, there is still some last-minute development going on during that last week or two in the uterus.

Explore a few of your baby's week 38 milestones in this interactive experience.

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Your Common Symptoms This Week

Your body doesn't get much larger or more awkward than at the tail-end of pregnancy, and you're likely experiencing the symptoms to prove it.

Waddling

The simple act of walking can become uncomfortable during the third trimester. Between carrying extra weight, your uterus taking up nearly all of the room inside of your abdomen, and your baby’s head putting pressure between your legs, you may find yourself doing the pregnancy waddle.

Clumsiness

You are probably not quite as graceful as you were a few months ago. Not only do you have a big belly and extra weight throwing off your center of gravity, but in preparation for childbirth, your ligaments and joints are loosening up. These changes may leave you feeling a little unstable on your feet. As a result, your chances of falling are higher.

Self-Care Tips

If you're feeling extra clumsy or having more difficulty moving around, take it as a sign to rest up. While you rest, consider brushing up on the basics you learned in your birth classes, including signs of labor.

Maintaining Your Balance

You may need to try harder than usual to keep your balance during these last few weeks. Here are some tips:

  • Wear comfortable, flat shoes.
  • Take your time and move more slowly.
  • Be careful when reaching for things.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Avoid climbing and situations that can lead to losing your balance.
  • Wear a pregnancy support belt.
  • Engage in safe exercise such as pregnancy yoga.
  • Eat small meals throughout the day and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dizziness.

Signs of Labor

You're getting close to baby's birthday now, so you'll want to be on the lookout for signs of labor. You might know right away that it's time, but for some expecting moms, it can be hard to tell. Here are a few of the labor signs you're looking for:

  • Loss of the mucus plug: A clear or blood-streaked mucus discharge
  • Lightening: The baby dropping down into the pelvis
  • Water breaking: A clear leak, trickle, gush of water from your vagina
  • Discomfort: Pain or cramps in your belly or lower back
  • Contractions: A tightening and softening of your uterine muscles that is regular and growing in intensity

You may not notice all these signs, and some may show up before labor starts. For example, your mucus plug could fall out and your baby could "drop" a few weeks before you go into labor. Contractions can start without your water breaking or your water can break without any contractions in sight.

It's easy to tell it's labor when your water breaks and contractions begin. But, if you just have some cramping, it may not be as obvious. So, call your doctor or head to the hospital if you think you're in labor, you're in a lot of pain, you have bleeding from your vagina, or your baby doesn't seem to be moving as much.

Your Week 38 Checklist

Advice for Partners

You’ve spent many months focusing on your baby-to-be. Now that the last weeks of pregnancy are here, be sure to focus on you and your partner. Take time to relax or enjoy an activity together not only to distract you both from the waiting game but to enjoy being just the two of you before your baby arrives and your family grows.

At Your Doctor’s Office

You are getting really close now. There aren't that many of these weekly prenatal visits left. In fact, at this point, you never know when it's your last one. This week, you'll have the typical check-up and exam, including:

  • Weight check
  • Blood pressure check
  • Urine test
  • Swelling check
  • Fundal height measurement
  • Listening to baby's heartbeat
  • Checking the position of baby
  • Checking your cervix
  • Discussing your symptoms
  • Answering your questions

Weight Gain

You and your baby are still gaining weight during these last few weeks. It is expected that you will gain about a pound a week at this point, so you may have put on approximately 29 pounds by now.

For those with a normal body mass index (BMI: 18.5–24.9) at the start of pregnancy, the recommended weight gain over the course of pregnancy is 25 to 35 pounds. However, every person and pregnancy is different, so talk to your doctor about how much weight you have gained to be sure you're on the right track for you.

Questions to Ask

Do you have lingering delivery-day worries or questions? Now’s the time to share them with your healthcare provider (and your partner), no matter how silly or outrageous they might seem. Your provider can help quell your fears and offer reality checks.

Some concerns that commonly top the list of moms-to-be include:

Upcoming Doctor’s Visits

Now that you're scheduled for weekly prenatal visits, you'll be back for another appointment next week at 39 weeks.

Depending on your situation, your provider may order additional tests to check on the health of your pregnancy and the baby, such as:

Special Considerations

Childbirth often looks nothing like what you see on TV or in the movies, starting with when the water breaks. Do you know what to expect?

Chances of Childbirth This Week

In the United States, a large study of over 34 million births showed that 24% to 29% of those expecting deliver between 37 and 38 weeks.

Water Breaking

The bag of water that breaks during labor is the amniotic sac. The sac is made up of two membranes, and they hold the amniotic fluid that surrounds your baby. Your water breaking is also called the rupture of the membranes.

If your water breaks naturally (without intervention), it might be a gush of fluid or just a trickle. You may know right away, or you may not be so sure.

Amniotic fluid:

  • Is clear like water
  • Is warm like your body temperature
  • Has no odor
  • Does not smell like urine

If you are unsure whether or not your water has broken, change your underwear, put on a pad, and wait. If the fluid was actually urine, nothing more will likely happen. But, if it is amniotic fluid, the pad will continue to get wet.

Whether it's a gush or a trickle, you should contact your healthcare provider who will likely have you come in so they can test the fluid. If your water has, in fact, broken but you are not yet experiencing contractions, your provider may simply have you wait it out and allow labor to start over the next few hours.

If your water breaks at this stage of pregnancy, delivery (either via natural progression or induction) is imminent to reduce your and your baby’s risk of infection. But also know that some women go into labor without their water breaking on its own.

A Word From Verywell

With just one week until you and your baby are considered "full term," it won't be long until you're meeting your baby. Try to find some solace in all the preparation you've done to this point. Instead of keeping your focus entirely on baby and their upcoming birth, take this time to focus on you and your partner. If this is your first child, try to enjoy these last moments as a family of two. If you have other children, be sure to spend some quality one-on-one time with them as well.

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