Understanding your pregnancy: Week 38

Understanding your pregnancy: Week 38

A quick snapshot

You feel and look like a ripe peach this week. All rounded corners and full of promise. You may experience labour pains this week. If they don't progress and just subside, consider them your body's practice run for the real thing. Many women lose the mucous plug from their cervix around now and see this as a sign that their labour has started. In actual fact, the operculum or mucous show can come away weeks before the baby is born, so don't get too excited if this happens.

What’s changing in your body

  • You feel bigger, look bigger and have become very aware that your tummy is the first thing which enters a room. It's been weeks since you've been able to see your feet when you're standing so it's as if the world stops from your belly down.
  • Finding clothes to fit is getting harder and even your old faithfuls may be straining at the seams. Be imaginative about letting things out and borrowing from friends who've already had their babies. These final weeks are generally a time of making do.
  • Finding a comfortable position to lie in can seem almost impossible. Lying on your front isn't an option and flat on your back isn't recommended for either you or the baby. The best position is to lie on your left side, with your upper leg bent at the knee and supported by a pillow.
  • Keep away from crowds and people who are unwell this week. It's not always possible to avoid getting sick but if you can, limit your exposure to large groups of people and those who are clearly unwell. You need to be in the best possible shape to deliver your baby and maintain your own energy stores.
  • Your feet and ankles may have merged this week, morphing into cankles. It's not funny though and that swelling is uncomfortable. You are probably heartily sick of wearing the same shoes every day but don't fret. After childbirth, most women have a big diuresis, which means they get rid of a large volume of body fluid via their urine. Avoid buying new shoes now; your feet won't be their current puffy size for much longer.
  • Your breasts may be producing even more colostrum this week, to the point where some women will need to use breast pads to absorb leakage.

How your emotions are affected

  • Plan some meditation and quiet reflection time this week. Last minute jobs can threaten to overwhelm the most organised of mothers, so make sure you include some down time to enable you to focus on what really matters. A massage, a pre-natal yoga class, swimming or long walks can be perfect opportunities to simply chill out.
  • Buy some new things for the baby, even if you feel you already have lots from your older children. It is important to feel as if you have made some efforts which acknowledge the baby as being individual and unique. Get your older children to write letters to the new baby. When they are adults these can serve as a delightful reminder.

How your baby is growing

Third Trimester: Week 38Pregnant -lady -wk -38-closeup

  • Your baby weighs just over 3kg this week and continues to lay down fat and gain weight with every passing day. You baby is close to the average 53cm.
  • You may find your baby's movements may slow down from now on. There simply isn't enough room to move around much and their time is going into sleeping and resting. They also need to conserve energy for the difficult process of birth. You'll probably find yourself experiencing bursts of activity that feel strong and powerful. If however, there is any significant slowing down of your baby's movements or you feel as if something is not quite right, trust your instincts and have a check-up with your doctor.

Tips for the week

  • Speak with friends and family who may have had a baby recently. If they had a positive experience with their baby's paediatrician, mention this to your own doctor. If you are a private patient, you are entitled to request a preference for your own baby's doctor.
  • Line up some support for when you have the baby. Avoid making concrete, inflexible plans though. It will help you to know there are people who care about you and will be willing to offer you emotional and physical support. Just knowing they are available can make a big difference.
  • Have a practice drive to the hospital with your partner. Familiarise yourself with the route, the parking, out of hours arrangements and note the hospital's contact details for when you go into labour.
  • Organise your baby's car seat and make sure it’s fitted correctly in your car. Avoid borrowing or buying a second hand one unless you are familiar with its history. Baby restraints are not items which should ever be compromised on.