Week 38 pregnant
From this week on, your baby is considered “term” and may be born anytime from now on, so be prepared. Baby’s skin looks less wrinkly and has more of a visible layer of fat underneath it. The vernix that has been covering your little one until now starts to be reabsorbed.
You feel and look like a ripe peach this week. All rounded corners and full of promise. Even if you’ve loved every minute of pregnancy until now, some creeping, nagging doubts may start to surface when you are 38 weeks pregnant. “Am I too big?” “Am I too small?” “Will this baby ever be born?” And the classic, “How can this baby ever come out of me?”
You may swing between calm one minute and near panic the next. Your due date is only 2 weeks away and the reality of the baby is almost upon you. Try not to feel overwhelmed by what is happening and have faith in your body’s ability to deliver your baby safely. Have confidence too, in your midwife or obstetrician, and be optimistic that all will go smoothly. If not, there are processes in place that are designed to support you and your baby.
Was that what I think it was?
Some of 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 (the plug) can come away weeks before the baby is born, so don’t get too excited if this happens.
Finalise your list of baby names and keep an open mind about those you may not have even considered. If you have a nostalgic leaning, search your family’s history and think about recycling a family name. Just bear in mind that times change and what may have been thought of as distinguished or suitable in the 19th Century can seem just plain old fashioned now.
Your physical change this week
You feel bigger, look bigger and have become very aware that your tummy is the first thing that 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.
At 38 weeks pregnant, 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. This is because one of your major blood vessels (the vena cava) will become compressed by the heavy weight of your womb if you lie on your back. 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 one. It’s not funny though and the swelling is uncomfortable. You are probably heartily sick of wearing the same shoes every day but don’t worry, your feet won’t be their current puffy size for much longer. After childbirth, most women have a big diuresis, which means they get rid of a large volume of body fluid via their urine. So resist buying new shoes now.
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. If you have breastfed a baby before, this is more common. Although your breasts may feel heavy and uncomfortable, they are preparing for lactation and the all important task of nourishing your baby.
Your emotional changes this week
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.
You may look at your older children with a sense of guilt, as if you are about to disrupt their lives with a new family member. You may worry how you could possibly love another child as much as your existing children. Don’t agonise over the possibility of things that are very unlikely to happen. Nature is set up to succeed and your baby will soon become a much loved new addition.
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’ve made some effort to acknowledge your new baby as being an 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.
Your baby’s changes this week
Your baby weighs just over 3 kg this week and continues to lay down fat and gain weight with every passing day. Its growth in length has slowed down and is close to the average 53 cm.
You may find that your baby’s movements are slowing down from now on. There simply isn’t enough room to move around much and all baby’s time is spent on sleeping and resting. Your baby also needs to conserve energy for the difficult process of birth. You’ll probably find it has 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 midwife or obstetrician.
Hints 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. You are entitled to request a reference to the paediatrician of your choice for your baby.
Line up some support for when you have the baby. It will help you to know that 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, after-hours arrangements, and the hospital’s contact details for when you go into labour.
Organise your baby’s car seat and make sure it meets local safety standards. Avoid borrowing or buying a car seat second-hand unless you are familiar with its history. Baby car seats are not items which should ever be compromised on.
Week 39 next.
The 40 weeks leading up to the birth of your baby are full of fascinating milestones, physical transformations that will amaze you, and a sense of anticipation that grows as the big day approaches.