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weeks pregnant

38 weeks pregnant - what to expect

Your baby is about the length of a stalk of rhubarb.

Week 38 infographic.

What does my baby look like?

Their soft lanugo fur has disappeared and they're ready for the real world. Now it’s all about plumping up and shifting into position for their big moment.

Your baby is still growing and filling the womb - but this doesn’t mean that their movements should slow down.

If baby is not moving as much as they were, or if you're worried about their movements for any reason, talk to your midwife or doctor immediately. A change in your baby's movements can be a sign that they need help.

Your symptoms - what to expect

Leaking nipples

Your boobs are producing colostrum - a very special ‘gold top’ milk rich in nutrients - so don’t be alarmed if you spot yellow marks in your bra, or any wetness.

If needs be, buy some absorbent breast pads - they’re likely to come in handy when your baby arrives too.

Actions to take

Actions

Go to sleep on your side if you're not already doing so

When you reach your third trimester, the advice is to go to sleep on your side because research has shown that going to sleep on your back is linked to an increased risk of stillbirth. This advice includes daytime napping and night sleeping. Read more about safe sleep positions in pregnancy.

I’m worried something is wrong

If you have any concerns get in touch with your midwife or labour ward. Don't hold back from reporting a concern. Here are some tips for speaking with midwives in pregnancy.

Do you have persistent stomach pains? Brown or pink discharge? A severe headache that won’t go away?  

Take a look at the list of symptoms you mustn’t ignore.

How will I know when labour has started?

The question on so many of your minds right now. You might be feeling worried about going out, making plans, being alone - in case you go in to labour.

Or you might be worried about knowing when you should go into hospital, especially if it’s not close by.

Read our info, and don’t hesitate to talk through any concerns with your midwife.

How will I know when I am in labour?

What happens during labour?

Antenatal care

You’re likely to have an antenatal appointment at 38 weeks to check on you and your baby. The position of your baby will be checked to see if he is head-down.

If his legs or bottom are facing down, your baby is ‘breech’. Your doctor or midwife may arrange for you to have a procedure where the doctor tries to move the baby into a head-down position. This is called external cephalic version (ECV).

Going stir crazy at home?

Get outside and go for a walk. You can carry on exercising as long as you feel well and comfortable, even up to the birth, but it’s important not to overdo it.

Walking and swimming are great ways to be active at this stage in pregnancy. If you feel any pain or discomfort, dizziness, tightening in your tummy or leaking waters, stop exercising straight away and contact your midwife, doctor or the hospital.

“Do lots of things that you won't be able to do for a while after the birth. I went to the cinema as much as I could (since having children I’ve made it about three times in the past five years!)” Anam, mum of three

Feeling the urge to clean?

Now might be a good time to get down on all fours and scrub the floor! Not only will it satisfy your nesting urge to spring clean the house before your baby’s arrival, but being down on all fours is a great position for the baby.

Crawling around in this position for about half an hour could give your baby the chance to shift into a good, anterior position.

Find out more about movement and positions during labour.

Sources

1. You and your baby at 37–40 weeks pregnant, NHS Choices: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pregnancy-weeks-37-38-39-40.aspx [accessed 12 June 2015] (last reviewed: 11 February 2015; next review due: 11 February 2017).

2. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2008) Antenatal Care, NICE Clinical Guidelines 62: http://publications.nice.org.uk/antenatal-care-cg62[accessed 30 March 2015].

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Last reviewed on April 1st, 2015. Next review date April 1st, 2018.

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