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The 38th week of pregnancy: what happens to the baby and mom

The 38th obstetric week may be the last week of gestation. During this period, the woman at her request, can be admitted to the hospital.

For those with a second pregnancy labor often begins in the 38th week. A first time pregnancy may take another 2-4 weeks of gestation. A baby born in the 38th week is not considered premature. He is completely ready to leave the mother’s womb, and come into the world.

The size and development of the fetus in the 38th week of pregnancy

pregnancy-week-38-sizeIn the thirty-eighth week of pregnancy, the baby is fully formed. His face is no different from what you will see after he is born. The skin is a soft pink color and smooth. He possibly has a full head of hair.

The weight and height are similar to that of a newborn – about 3 kg and 50 cm, respectively. These figures are average – it is better to estimate based on parental data. If the height of mom or dad does not reach 1.60 m, and they were born very small, then do not expect a child of a 5 kg weight and 60 cm height.

Condition of the baby’s body in the 38th week:

  • all organs and tissue have been formed and are in a good functioning condition;
  • lungs are ready to expand, so after birth the baby will be able to take his first independent breath;
  • hair and nails are still growing;
  • meconium (first feces) is forming in the intestines.

The child’s behavior. Since the size of the baby is already quite large, he does not have enough space in the womb. The number of movements in the 38th week is significantly reduced. The baby is snug and he kicks less often. pregnancy-week-38-babyBut his movements are not chaotic – the baby is quite in control of his arms and legs. The various reflexes are well developed. For example, sucking and grasping that you will see happening right after birth.

The position of the fetus. There are two possible fetal positions – breech and cephalic. Breech means that the child is lying legs down. Normally, the baby’s head should be in the lower part of the mom’s pelvis.

Unfortunately, if by the 38th week of pregnancy the baby is not in a correct position, it is unlikely that he will be able to turn the head down. But if the fetus is not large, it can still turn right up until birth. So, do not despair. Do special exercises.

[attention type=yellow]Twins in the 38th week. With a multiple pregnancy labor usually goes as planned. This means that a woman is already in the hospital. In the 38th week there is a very high probability that the babies will want to arrive now, if they have not done so at weeks 36-37. The weight and height of twin babies are slightly smaller than in a singleton pregnancy. But do not worry, after birth, they quickly catch up to the necessary weight and height.[/attention]

What’s going on with a mom in the 38th week

The growth of the abdomen and weight gain

pregnancy-week-38-tummy

Mom’s tummy is big and brings more discomfort. On average, its circumference in the 38th week up to 90-95 cm. This week, the abdomen starts to drop, the height of the uterine fundus is about 35 cm. When it finally drops, the uterus will no longer push up against the ribcage – the woman immediately breathes easier. Above, you can see photos of stomachs in the 38th week of pregnancy.

Weight gain is minimal in the 38th week, and may not occur at all. Overall, by this point the woman should have gained about 14-15 kg beginning from the first week of pregnancy. Many mothers in late pregnancy not only stop gaining weight, but may start to lose it. Due to the fact that the abdomen drops, the mucus plug falls out, and the expectant mother can lose about 1-2 kg. This should not cause any concern.

Sensations, movements, pain in the 38th week of pregnancy

Prior to labor, many women begin to feel uncomfortable. On one hand, they are fed up with the heaviness of the abdomen and all of the other unpleasant companions of pregnancy, and want to give birth as soon as possible. On the other hand, the impending “show time” is frightening.

Colostrum leaks from the breasts, at night. The huge belly causes a lot of discomfort. It interferes with sleeping, walking, sitting. Due to the tightly stretched skin, the abdomen constantly itches. In addition to all this, you are dealing with training contractions. Braxton Hicks contractions do not lead to labor, because they do not contribute to uterine opening. They only train the body for the most important moment.

Apart from training contractions, the woman is concerned with lower back pain, which by the 9th month has become the norm. Back pain occurs due to excessive loads on the spine caused by a displaced center of gravity. In addition, there are unpleasant sensations in the lower back caused by a relaxation of the ligaments and joints. The body prepares for the baby’s arrival into the world.

[attention type=green]There is also good news – the uterus drops and relieves the pressure on various organs, so heartburn and belching disappear, digestion returns to normal. There is very little time remaining, and all the other unpleasant sensations are about to disappear.[/attention]

In the 38th week every mother notices that the child’s activity has markedly declined. This should not alarm her. The baby has grown, the amount of amniotic fluid is reduced, and there is not much space for activity in the mother’s belly.

In this period it is important to monitor every movement of the little one. These are the last weeks when you can still enjoy the great feeling that a life is growing inside of you, and it is still important to monitor the condition of the child.

A mom must feel at least 10-15 fetal movements per day in the 38th week of pregnancy. Big deviations from the norm, for the higher or lower, may signify fetal distress, which can result in fetal death or a fading pregnancy. In this case, it is better to consult a doctor. Perhaps, is better to induce labor now, rather waiting for its natural onset.

False contractions

In this period there is an indication of false contractions. They are different from Braxton-Hicks contractions in that they appear only in the last days or weeks before birth, and may be accompanied by severe pain and “hardening” of the belly in the 38th week of pregnancy.

Sometimes, it is impossible to distinguish false contractions from real ones, and women go to the hospital, where after an examination they are told that the time has not yet come.pregnancy-week-38-mother

But there are some differences between false and real contractions. It is too early to go to the hospital, when your contractions:

  • go away with changing activities;
  • are felt up to 4 times per hour;
  • the intensity of contractions does not increase;
  • the interval between contractions is not getting shorter;
  • are felt just in the frontal part of the abdomen.

Discharge in the 38th week of pregnancy

Discharge in the 38th week should not differ from ones throughout the pregnancy. It must remain uniform in consistency, milky, odorless. More about discharge here…

You may see small amounts of mucus with small spots of blood. This is a precursor of coming labor, as the mucus plug falls away exactly as described above.

The changing character of discharge serves as a signal of amniotic fluid leakage. It is runny and murky. Amniotic fluid can leak in two cases:

  • it’s time to give birth;
  • the fetal membrane is thinning out.

In any case, the process should be monitored by the doctor.

The appearance of a greenish discharge, or a change of smell signals the beginning of infection, and a treatment should be conducted by the gynecologist

[attention type=red]Bloody spotting, as throughout the pregnancy, should not be happening. With the appearance of such secretions in the 38th week, first eliminate the possibility of placenta previa. It can also be brought on by placental abruption, which can cause serious harm to the child.[/attention]

Psychological condition

After the 38th week of pregnancy, the woman’s psychological condition is not ideal – severe fatigue affects her.

pregnancy-week-38-psychologicalIn addition, depression may appear in the final weeks. Its indicators are:

  • irritability;
  • sleeplessness;
  • mood swings;
  • headache;
  • anxiety.

Loving relatives should help the woman to cope with depression. It’s better for the expectant mother to surround herself with positive emotions and for the family to try to accept the temporary hormonal surge and often remind the expectant mom and yourself, that it will all be over soon.

The “nesting instinct” takes over in almost all mothers in late pregnancy. The body has a huge amount of energy and the desire to move mountains, change the wallpaper, repaint the ceiling, to buy a new chandelier, cover the floor with laminate, to clean the house – it means the oxytocin hormones are storming the body.

Analyses, examinations and ultrasound in the 38th week of pregnancy

pregnancy-week-38-us

The last months before the birth the woman should visit an obstetrician-gynecologist every week. The 38th week of pregnancy is no exception.

During the visit, the doctor will conduct the following screenings:

  • determining the size and position of the fetus;
  • measuring the height of the uterine fundus;
  • listening to the baby’s heartbeat;
  • conducting a urine analysis.

A CTG is performed in the 38th week to examine the baby’s cardiac activity and the heart rate. This test will monitor fetal response to uterine contractions. This allows to form conclusion about the condition of the fetus and to observe possible deviations from the norm. More information about CTG …

The 3 mandatory screenings have already been done, so in the 38th week an ultrasound is done on an as-needed basis. An ultrasound before birth may be necessary to check for cord entanglement, or to determine the exact position of the baby.

We invite you to watch the video of a fetal ultrasound in the 38th week of pregnancy and to view the child’s photo above.

Possible abnormalities

  • Chronic fetal hypoxia – oxygen starvation of the fetus. Late diagnosis can lead to serious complications.
  • Preeclampsia – late toxicities. This may lead to death of the mother or baby.
  • Premature detachment of the placenta – one of the most hazardous conditions in the 38th week. It requires the intervention of a doctor.
  • Malpresentation – by the 38th week, doctors should’ve decided whether you will give birth naturally or by scheduled cesarean section. But there is still a chance that the baby will change the position, especially if it is not very large.

How to know when it’s time to go to the hospital

pregnancy-week-38-hospital

Many women prefer to go to the hospital in advance. This eliminates the risk of giving birth at home or in an ambulance.

But if the mother has decided to wait for the right moment in the comfort of her own home, then it is quite important to understand how to determine when if it is time to go to the hospital.

Indications of beginning of labor in the 38th week of pregnancy:

  • discharge of amniotic fluid (water has broken), even if contractions have not yet commenced;
  • contractions occur, and they:
    • do not disappear when changing the position;
    • first they are weak and the interval between them is longer;
    • the intensity of contractions increases and the time between them is reduced.
[attention type=yellow]If real contractions have started, it is necessary to measure the interval between the contractions. In first pregnancies, contractions can last about 12 hours, in second or subsequent pregnancies – this time is usually half as long – about 6 hours. When the frequency of contractions reaches 1 every 10 minutes, it’s time to head to the hospital.[/attention]

How to attach the baby to the breast

pregnancy-week-38-breastOver time, every mother figured out her most comfortable position and feeding technique. But it is important to comply with the general rules of infant breastfeeding:

  • head, shoulders, and hips of the baby are aligned;
  • pull the baby toward the breast, not the breast to the baby;
  • the child must latch onto the entire nipple, rather than only the tip;
  • the mother should not experience any pain feeling during feeding.

Mom’s nutrition in the 38th week

A lot has been said about the mother’s nutrition in the descriptions of the previous 37 weeks. But before childbirth it’s necessary to follow a special diet. You should not consume simple carbohydrates, sugar, sweets, salt, fats. Discard unrefined grains, legumes, mushrooms. Lean toward fruits, vegetables, white meat, lean fish, milk products. Drink juices, fruit drinks, compotes and forget about strong tea and coffee.

Eat more often, but in small portions.

Sexual activity in the 38th week

In the absence of contraindications, sex is allowed in the 38th week of pregnancy. The benefits of sexual intercourse in late pregnancy are tangible:

  • it produces happiness hormones, which improve the mood;
  • it improves blood circulation, so the fetus is better supplied with oxygen;
  • sex stimulates the labor process;
  • you will have to abstain from sex for a while after delivery.

Recommendations for Mom

  1. Try to surround yourself with positive emotions.
  2. Do not forget to do simple exercises.
  3. Write down what you need your husband to do when you’re in the hospital.
  4. Learn proper breastfeeding techniques.
  5. Recall what you were taught in prenatal classes – how to behave during labor, how to breathe and more.
  6. Arrange transportation to the hospital.
  7. Check whether all required things are in the “hospital bag”.
  8. After delivery, do not forget about Dad.

Recommendations for Dad

  1. Do not pay attention to your wife’s mood swings.
  2. Assist your wife with household chores, keep in mind that she should not overwork.
  3. After the birth, the woman experiences a difficult period of adaptation. She will need your support. Believe me, your wife will value your behavior after the baby’s birth and will be very grateful for it.

Video about the 38th week of pregnancy

We invite you to watch the video guide of the 38th week of pregnancy. A lactation specialist of a perinatal medical center will provide important recommendations about feeding the baby. She will discuss how to correctly latch the baby to the breast, as well as the consequences of improper feeding techniques. In this video you can see some possible feeding positions.

[attention type=green]Are you ready for labor? How is one of the final weeks of pregnancy going for you? What is your condition? Tell us what you are concerned about. And, share with other moms, what things you have prepared for your hospital stay.[/attention]

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