Your pregnancy: 38 weeks

At this point in your baby’s development, most of the lanugo, or fine downy hair, that covered her body has disappeared along with the vernix caseosa, or whitish protective coating.

Felt x used to show how big baby is at x weeks
Photo: Mandy Milks, Erik Putz, Anthony Swaneveld. Felt: thefeltstore.com

What’s going on in there: Fetal development at 38 weeks

At 38 weeks pregnant, your baby weighs about three kilograms (6.8 pounds) now and is about 50 centimetres (19.5 inches) long from the top of her head to the tips of her toes. You may feel like you’re ready to pop and, of course, your baby could be born at any time now, but she isn’t technically considered full term yet (that happens next week). In the last few weeks inside the womb, your baby’s brain, lung and liver development are moving right along. For example, a baby born before 38 weeks has a higher risk of jaundice at birth because her liver is a little less efficient at processing bilirubin (the leftovers from used-up red blood cells).

Your baby is also starting to shed some of that vernix (the cheesy white coating on the skin) and lanugo (fine, downy hair that covers the skin) into the amniotic fluid. She will swallow some of that amniotic fluid, which becomes her first poop (a thick, sticky, dark goop called meconium).

Pro tip: After she is born, apply a thin layer of coconut oil or petroleum jelly to her bum during the first day or two to make cleaning up the meconium easier.

38 weeks pregnant symptoms

Lots of moms have swollen feet and ankles in late pregnancy. Why? Blood isn’t circulating effectively because the weight of the baby is putting pressure on the veins between the legs and the heart. Puffy feet are the result. Break out the comfy slip-on shoes or go up a size if needed. You can help reduce the swelling by lying down, with your feet propped on pillows, or soaking your feet in cool water. Gentle exercise, such as walking, can also help improve circulation. Your doctor may even suggest compression socks. (Remember that significant swelling in your hands and face can be a sign of high blood pressure, which should be checked out pronto.)

This may be the grossest-sounding of all pregnancy terms, right up there with leukorrhea (vaginal discharge). Mucus near the cervix protects the baby from bacteria, and losing your mucus plug (also known as the “bloody show”) can be a sign that your cervix is beginning to soften in preparation for labour. As the cervix begins to dilate, the discharge may be clear or blood tinged, and it might come out right before active labour starts or a few days before. Not every pregnant woman remembers or sees her mucus plug coming out, so don’t worry if you don’t notice anything different.

What’s on your mind this week

Your amazing body (seriously, look at how you’ve grown an entire human being in there) has been through quite a lot and is about to go through even more. You can do some TLC prep now to help you feel better after you’ve given birth. If you’ve already bought some extra-big maxipads to absorb the postpartum bleeding (known as lochia), take a few and make some “padsicles.” Just pour some water and witch hazel onto them and freeze them. (If you freeze them in the bottom of a large mixing bowl, they will freeze in a more natural, rounded shape.) Trust us, you will appreciate the soothing coolness on your lady parts after you’ve delivered the baby.

Some relaxing tub time or a sitz bath (a plastic basin that fits over the toilet bowl, which you fill with lukewarm or cool water and Epsom salts) can help with post-delivery healing and swelling, too. Pee stings when your vagina is healing, so use a plastic squeeze bottle filled with warm water to rinse as you urinate. (Chrissy Teigen joked that the perineal bottle she ordered on Amazon was her push present to herself.) If you plan on breastfeeding, it’s not a bad idea to have a couple of different kinds of nipple cream on hand.   

Just for kicks

After shopping for a sitz bath and a perineal squirt bottle, you could probably use something a bit more fun.
While not everyone believes in “push presents,” it’s definitely a big trend—some moms even expect them.
Where do you stand? Is there anything on your wish list? We’ve rounded up some of our favourite gifts below. Now, you probably don’t have the budget of these celebrity push presents, but it’s nice to fantasize. 

Olive + Piper Mama Necklace

Baby names

Will your child have your last name, your partner’s surname or a hyphenated combination? This couple had a creative solution: Each kid took a different last name.

Pregnancy to-do list: Week 38

Getting antsy
If you’ve written a birth plan, take a few minutes to review it. Any changes you want to make? Jot down any questions you’d like to ask at your next appointment with your doctor or midwife. At week 38, your baby could come tomorrow or it could be another three (or four!) weeks. (Sorry!) The big “moment” may not be as dramatic as the movies you’ve seen, with women whose water always breaks in the middle of a restaurant.

There are a lot of other labour myths you may have heard. Read up on what’s true and what’s bunk. Keep this list—the signs of labour to watch for—handy.

Testing 1, 2, 3
Familiarize yourself with the standard newborn screenings that doctors, nurses and midwives use to assess your baby right after the birth.  

Read more:
How to cope during the transition phase of labour
Do you think new moms should expect push presents?
Next up: 39 weeks pregnant

 

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