Week 38 at a glance
You’re 38 weeks pregnant – only two weeks until your due date! But will your baby wait until then?
Time will tell…
As you pass the 38 weeks pregnant mark, the finish line is very much in sight.
Your baby is right on the threshold between “early term” (nearly ready for birth) and “full term”.
(AKA “Let’s go!”)
If you want to take some time out from repacking your hospital bag or refolding all those tiny onesies, we’ve got you.
Here’s what to expect at 38 weeks pregnant.
In this article: 📝
- Week 38 at a glance
- Baby development at 38 weeks
- Pregnancy symptoms at 38 weeks
- Pregnancy tips at 38 weeks
Baby development at 38 weeks
Right about now you may be heading off to your final prenatal checkup.
Here, your healthcare provider will listen to your baby’s heartbeat, check their position (probably head-down and engaged by this point), and measure your bump.
At 38 weeks your babe is super close to full term, so this could be your last prenatal visit!
Your baby at 38 weeks in the womb is still growing and gaining weight inside you, putting those finishing touches to their brain and lungs so they’re prepared for life on the outside.
On average, they’ll be 19.5 inches long from head to heel and weigh just over 6.5 pounds.
That’s the size of a leek!
(In length, at least – naturally, they’ll look a little chubbier than a leek.)
Want to hear a fun but slightly icky fact?
Your baby is currently preparing for their very first poop.
Yep, they’ve been swallowing things like hair, skin cells, and amniotic fluid for a while now – and all that is building up in their bowels.
It will emerge (usually after the birth) as a sticky, green-black substance called meconium.
So make sure you’ve got all the diapers ready!
Pregnancy symptoms at 38 weeks
Now for your 38 weeks pregnant symptoms.
Well, we’re afraid there isn’t a special holiday from pregnancy symptoms at 38 weeks.
But focusing on that first meeting with your baby might help get you through what can be, let’s face it, a fairly uncomfortable time.
So what might you be experiencing this week?
- Leaking colostrum. Actually, this is quite an exciting one (if you’re planning to breastfeed). Your breasts might have started leaking a thin, yellowish liquid that will be your baby’s first protein-rich food. Pop in some breast pads to protect your clothes.
- Swollen ankles.
- Heartburn and indigestion.
- Feeling hot. It’s easy to get overheated at this stage of pregnancy. Try wearing loose clothing, eating ice pops, or spritzing yourself with water from a spray bottle.
- Achy pelvis. Your baby’s head puts more pressure on this area as they drop further down.
- Braxton Hicks contractions. You’ll be used to these by now, but you might find you start getting more of them as your body practices for labor. So if you’re having 38 weeks pregnant cramping, there’s a chance it could be practice, but there’s also a chance it could be the real thing!
Why am I so uncomfortable at 38 weeks pregnant?
There are lots of different types of discomfort at 38 weeks pregnant, most of which are perfectly normal and, sometimes, expected.
- Increase in pressure in your lower abdomen. As baby gets into position, you may feel a bit more pressure lower down.
- Cramping. Could be contractions. Could be Braxton Hicks.
- Nausea. It might not necessarily be the same pregnancy nausea (or morning sickness) you got familiar with in the first trimester, but this could be caused simply by baby pressing on your organs and causing heartburn and indigestion.
- General aches. You are carrying a bit more weight than your body is used to ‒ you’re carrying a baby, after all!
Will they check my cervix at 38 weeks?
Yes, you may have your cervix checked at 38 weeks ‒ it’s pretty common, but not a must during your prenatal appointment.
During this cervical exam, they’ll check how soft your cervix is and if it’s dilated.
What signs not to ignore at 38 weeks pregnant?
We don’t mean to worry you, but there are some 38 weeks pregnant symptoms not to ignore.
At your prenatal checkup, it’s a good plan to mention any pregnancy symptoms that are bothering you – particularly if they’re new.
Symptoms definitely not to be ignored, that you should call your doctor about ASAP, are:
- A headache that won’t go away
- Changes to your vision
- Severe swelling in your hands or face
- Pain in your right upper abdomen
- Suddenly gaining weight
Each of these 38 weeks pregnant symptoms not to ignore are signs of a condition called preeclampsia, which about 5% of pregnant women experience.
Don’t worry, your healthcare provider will check your blood pressure and look for protein in your urine in order to diagnose or rule it out.
At this late stage of pregnancy, the treatment for preeclampsia is usually to induce labor, as symptoms should go away once your baby and the placenta are delivered.
38 weeks pregnant is how many months?
38 weeks is roughly 9 months.
Is it common to go into labor at 38 weeks?
If you’re having some 38 weeks pregnant cramping, it could be the start of labor.
Labor at 38 weeks is more likely than you might think.
The data experts at the National Center for Health Statistics tell us that over a quarter (26%) of births happen at 37 weeks or 38 weeks.
What are labor signs at 38 weeks?
So how do you know if labor’s on the way?
Well, signs that your baby is getting ready to head on out include:
- Bloody show (your cervix dilating and causing blood-streaked mucus).
- Longer, more powerful contractions.
- Your water breaking.
- If you experience what feels like 38 weeks pregnant period pains (ah, periods – remember them?) or cramps in your belly and lower back, these can be another sign that labor isn’t far away.
Pregnancy tips at 38 weeks
Here are some top tips for what to do at 38 weeks pregnant, from our Peanut moms-to-be:
- Make sure your medical insurance is up-to-date.
- Create a list of people to share your big news with when you go into labor and when baby arrives.
- Stock up on diapers and formula (if you’re formula feeding) or consider reusable cloth diapers for an eco-friendly option.
- Take time to rest and relax as you’re in the final stretch, mama!
- Get any last-minute baby gear you need and make sure to stock up on postpartum care items for yourself.
- Track your baby’s movements and kick counts to ensure their health and well-being, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor if you have any concerns.
- Keep up with your prenatal appointments and check-ups, as your doctor may want to see you more often now.
- Prep frozen meals ahead of time to make sure you’re well-fed after baby arrives.
- Install your car seat and get comfortable with putting it in and out of your car for safety.
- Shortlist your top picks for baby names ‒ even if you think you have the perfect name chosen, it’s worth having some backups, just in case!
- Make sure you always know where your hospital bag is, and that you have it readily available wherever you are.
So at 38 weeks pregnant, there’s a pretty good chance that baby could make their arrival soon!
You’re into the final strait here, mama ‒ soon, you’ll have baby in your arms.
See you for 39 weeks – or maybe not…