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Week 38 of Pregnancy

Written by Amina Hatia RM
Medically reviewed by Marley Hall BA RM Diphe
March 14, 2022

With only a few weeks left to go before your baby’s official due date – although it’s not uncommon to go into labour at 41 or even 42 weeks, you’re in the home stretch.  

You are probably feeling quite tired and a lot heavier too – particularly if your baby’s head has engaged.

Whilst resting is important, more so if your sleep is being broken by trips to the loo as your baby pushes against your bladder and kicks from baby waking you up, it’s just as important to keep up some gentle exercise such as walking.

This will help you feel a lot better – mentally, because getting out in the fresh air can really lift your spirit, but also physically – the act of walking is great in moving your pelvis so that your baby moves further down ready for birth. It can also help with feeling more relaxed and help you sleep more fitfully or with relieving heartburn if you are affected by it.

Try using your walking time to really connect with baby – you may find out pre-recorded hypnobirthing courses are helpful to listen to whilst you wander – there are lots of positive affirmations and suggestions for meditations on there to help you feel better prepared for the labour and birth journey you are about to embark on.

Hydration is key too – despite your baby using your bladder as a punching bag, you do need to keep your fluids up. Aim to drink at least 2 litres of water a day, taking regular sips instead of drinking it all at once.  

How big is my baby at 38 weeks?

At 38 weeks your baby is really growing and getting ready for birth. Measuring over 49.5 centimetres in length, they are the height of a rhubarb – leafy bit and all! Baby is continuing to lay down the fat stores too and will be weighing by the end of the week around 3 kilograms.

What happens in week 38 of pregnancy?

At 38 weeks your baby is continuing to gain weight and grow. Their lungs and brain are also still maturing and will continue to do so until baby is born.

Another development that happens around this stage is that your baby starts to develop and practice facial expressions! This can range from smiling to frowning or even crying – albeit silently. Now don’t be too alarmed or worried by this, it’s not in reaction to anything – or caused by any emotion your baby is feeling, it’s just random practice.

38 pregnancy symptoms

Changes in vaginal discharge – In pregnancy in general it is very normal to experience an increase in vaginal discharge. This is a healthy change that happens as it helps to prevent and protect against any vaginal infections from travelling up the vagina to your uterus.

Mucus Plug/Show – In the latter part of the third trimester you may find that your vaginal discharge increases again. Sometimes it may look a little different – containing bits of pink jelly like mucus or even very light pinkish streaks of blood – which is often referred to as a ‘show’. This is the plug of mucus that accumulates in your cervix and forms a seal to the entrance of your uterus. 

In these last few weeks as your cervix starts to soften and get ready for labour, bits of the mucus plug may come away. It may look thick and sticky, clear in colour or have a light brownish or pinkish tint. 

For some people mucus plug/show comes out as a blob, but for others it may come away in smaller bits.

Whilst a show is a sign that your body is getting ready for approaching labour, it’s important to bear in mind that it can pass weeks before your labour starts. Try not to get too focused on it – these are all gentle signs that your body is getting ready for birth. It also doesn’t mean your baby is at risk of infection – remember baby is still in their amniotic sac which is protective and sterile.

Week 38 pregnancy tips

  • Preparing for labour and birth is the most common concern in pregnancy – but what often gets overlooked is planning and preparing for the postnatal/postpartum period too. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘4th Trimester’ a period of adapting and recovery from birth.
  • Having easy to reheat meals, a regular grocery delivery slot arranged, knowing who is going to take on household chores is a good thing to prepare – start building your tribe and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’ll find that people are more than happy to lend a hand and would prefer to be told what is most helpful to you.
  • It’s equally important to think about your emotional and mental well-being in the postnatal period too.