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38 Weeks Pregnant: What to Expect During Pregnancy

2 years ago4 min read
Last updated: Jan 20 2023

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” (let’s go!).

38 weeks pregnant

If you want to take some time out from repacking your hospital bag or refolding all those tiny onesies, we’ve got you - let’s chat all things week 38.

What to expect at 38 weeks pregnant?

Fetus at 38 weeks

Right about now you may be heading off to your final prenatal checkup, where your healthcare provider will listen to your baby’s heartbeat, check their position (probably head-down by this point), and measure your bump. At 38 weeks your little peanut 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. Get set for your very first diaper change…

38 weeks pregnant symptoms

What happens to your body at 38 weeks pregnant? 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.

38 weeks pregnant symptoms not to ignore

At that last 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 include:

  • 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

These 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.

Pressing questions when pregnant at 38 weeks

With only a couple weeks to go until your due date, what questions are keeping you up at night?

38 weeks pregnant is how many months?

It’s round about 9 months. Almost there!

Is it common to go into labor at 38 weeks? How likely is it to give birth at 38 weeks?

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?

Signs that your baby is getting ready to head on out include: diarrhea and nausea; bloody show (your cervix dilating and causing blood-streaked mucus); longer, more powerful contractions; and your water breaking.

Also, 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.

See you for 39 weeks – or maybe not… Good luck!

🤰Read next:
39 Weeks Pregnant: What to Expect
Your Pregnancy Week By Week Guide

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