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Pregnancy Week 38

What to expect when you’re 38 weeks pregnant

Profile picture of Jessica Render
by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team
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Baby development at 38 weeks pregnant

With just two weeks remaining until your due date, you may find yourself scrutinizing every contraction, fetal movement and change in symptoms. Trust your instincts and your body: It knows that childbirth is coming and will prepare even if you put no cognitive effort into it.

It’s all about proportion! The circumference of your baby’s head is approximately the same as their abdomen.

Depending on the amount of melanin your baby produces, their iris color will be slate gray, deep brown or blue at birth. Although your baby’s eyes won’t lose pigment (brown eyes will stay brown), the color could change within the first year.

Your baby’s vocal cords are now developed and, in partnership with those tiny lungs, allow your little one to communicate loudly and clearly upon arrival!

A newborn’s body — thin limbs and exposed skin — loses heat very quickly. Although your baby’s fat will generate extra heat to keep them warm, this extra store of energy will be used up one or two days after birth. Skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth is an excellent way to keep your little one warm and begin your postnatal physical bond.

Your baby’s body replaces older skin cells with new skin cells to help regulate body temperature after birth.

Week 38 pregnant belly

Your weight is likely to remain stable from now until you deliver your baby.

Common pregnancy symptoms at 38 weeks

Are you waiting for the gush of amniotic fluid, as seen on TV, as your cue to call the delivery ward? The water breaking may not happen like that. A more likely scenario goes like this: Your friend says something hilarious at which you laugh, fluid emanates from you, and you wonder if you’ve lost control of your bladder. If you suspect that’s your amniotic fluid, which protects your baby from infection, call your obstetrician’s office — you may be in late preterm labor.

  • Nesting: Are you sobbing, maybe uncharacteristically, at your partner’s inability to organize a sock drawer? Have you found yourself washing a ceiling recently? You’re nesting. You may think we make up these examples, but some of us have been there. Nesting is the sometimes fiendish impulse to clean and organize your living space to accommodate and welcome your newborn. It may grip you like a fever, but it’s very normal. Trust your instincts, especially at this point, and enjoy your preparations.
  • Leaking breasts: Your breasts may leak a small amount of colostrum, the yellow-hued precursor to your milk. It’s rich in antibodies to protect your newborn from disease and delivers highly concentrated nutrients in a low volume — ideal for their small, maturing digestive system.
  • Loose stools: The hormone responsible for the dilation and effacement of your cervix — prostaglandins — may also cause loose stools.

expecting couple smiling

Pregnancy checklist at 38 weeks pregnant

Meeting your little one may seem like a distant event, particularly if this is your first pregnancy, but it’s on the horizon. Your baby will be here soon, and then…? Ta-da! You’re a parent. If you’ve taken time off work and are now unsure of what to do with yourself, are too fatigued to continue nesting or just want a handle on what’s coming, check out these reminders to stay on track.

Reminders for
Week 38
  • Monitor abnormal symptoms. These last weeks of pregnancy should be straightforward, but things happen. Call your OB-GYN’s office immediately or seek medical attention if you experience a fever, unrelenting abdominal pain, a severe or persistent headache, vision changes, vaginal bleeding, amniotic fluid leakage or a reduction in fetal movement.
  • Read up. This is a good time to read up on breastfeeding, sleep training and toddler discipline. Parenting comes at you fast!
  • Get your hospital bag ready. You may have already packed your hospital bag. If so, now's a good time to check it. Are you missing anything? Is there anything you’ll need to add at the last minute, like your glasses, a phone charger or favorite lotion? Consider printing out a checklist to leave with your bag so you can check your bag when it’s go time.

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Profile picture of Jessica Render
by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team

As a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team, Jessica Render is dedicated to providing well-researched, valuable content designed to help consumers make informed purchase decisions they can feel confident making. She holds a degree in journalism from Oral Roberts University.