In this article
Week 38 serves as the 2nd week of the term or full term period (medical term for week 37 – 41). Babies who are born during this period have a higher risk of suffering from health complications and defers in reaching development milestones.
The mother in week 38
At 38 weeks, a mother – in – waiting continues to add weight (at least 1 pound a week). She will have a hard time getting around due to over – fatigue which goes along with neck and back pain. Aside from that, here are more symptoms this week:
Week 38 symptoms
More frequent urination
Expect more frequent urination since the baby has dropped in the pelvic cavity. If the fetus is in a vertex position (correct position for birth), his head gives less room for the bladder to store an ample amount of urine.
A bloody show refers to the string of pink or brownish phlegm – like vaginal discharge. This happens when the blood vessels are rupturing as the cervix dilates, effaces, and changes station.Pregnancy week by week
If a mother – in – waiting has witnessed the bloody show, this only indicates that labor and delivery could begin within the next several hours.
The loss of mucous plug
Apart from the bloody show, a mother – to – be may also lose her mucous plug this week. Losing the mucous plug is an indication that the cervix is softening. A mucous plug serves as a cork that seals the opening of the uterus.
When the mucous plug has dislodged, the vagina discharges some piece of it. This appears as a thick and white gelatinous substance streaked with blood (sometimes).
Expect more dislodging to occur as the labor and delivery gets closer.
Pregnancy – induced diarrhea
Diarrhea (commonly known as loose bowel movement, abbreviated as LBM) during gestation is the body’s way of making more space for the baby to move and grow.
Pregnancy – induced diarrhea may be a result of food cravings, extra water intake, pre-natal exercises, and pre – natal vitamins.
The skin (particularly the abdomen, butt, and breasts) gets irritated since it extremely expand and becomes moisture – deprived during gestation.
Edema (swelling feet, ankles, and even hands)
Edema affects about ¾ pregnant women from week 22 until childbirth. Edema occurs due to the following factors:
- Increased levels of body fluids
- To accumulate the tissues
- Increased blood flow
- Enlarging uterus pressing the pelvic veins and the vena cava – large vein on the right side of the body which returns blood from the lower limbs to the heart.
3rd trimester insomnia
3rd trimester insomnia (also called as sleep deprivation) is caused by a combination of gestation symptoms such as:
- Frequent urination
- Acid refluxes
- Leg spasms
- Pre – birth anxiety
Breasts may probably be leaking some colostrum (the precursor to breastmilk, a thin and yellowish fluid) as the milk production system begins. Colostrum is rich in protein, filled with anti – bodies (immunoglobin A) and has less fat and sugar for easy digestion.
Nesting instinct is the urgent need to organize and clean the house in preparation of the baby’s arrival. It is a nature’s way of getting an expectant mom ready to welcome the newest member of the family.
Here are the following things that a mother – to – be does when nesting instincts hit her:
- Restocking the refrigerator
- Padding the pantries
- Stocking the shelves with healthy conveniences
- Cooking in quantities
- Load up the laundry
- General cleaning
- Choosing the outfit for the baby
- Choosing the outfit to wear while in labor
- Organize the baby’s essentials – diapers, soap, cotton pads, cotton buds, rectal digital thermometer, rubbing alcohol, nasal syringe, nail cutter, bottles
- Organize the mother’s must – haves – super – absorbent maxi pads, medicated pads, ice packs
- Order birth announcements
Braxton – Hicks contractions
Braxton – Hicks contractions are the irregular and painless tightening in the uterus. This is because the uterine muscles are flexing in preparation for the delivery day.
Lightning crotch is when the baby – to – be bumps against the pelvic nerves. Lightning crotch is the shooting sensations which radiate up and down the legs and in the vagina.
Hip and pelvic pain
The hips and pelvis aches since the baby has dropped in the pelvic cavity, where the growing baby stresses the pelvic bones.
Fetal development in week 38
Most of the changes at week 38, the baby – in – waiting body systems and internal organs of are in place and almost prepared to function outside the womb. Furthermore, here are the following fetal developments which take place during this week:
- Primarily from week 38 onwards, the amount of amniotic fluid gradually decreases. Though the body will continue to produce fluid until the baby is born.
- The average fetus stretches for about 18.9 – 20.9 inches from crown – to – feet measurement and tips the scales roughly at 6.2 – 9.2 pounds. His fetal movements are restricted by his close quarters.
- Lungs have strengthened, continues to mature (this organ will be the last to reach full maturation) and produce more surfactant – a substance that hinders the air sacs in the lungs from adhering to one another the time he begins to breathe.
- The fetal nervous system is in the brink of rapid development particularly the cerebellum, which can increase into 30 – fold in the latter weeks of the 3rd trimester; the brain’s smooth surface transforms into a creased and indented mass; connections between the brain and neurons continue to form.
- The baby’s head circumference is now the same with the abdomen.
- Layers of fat stores continue to build up underneath the epidermis (skin’s surface). These help in regulating the body’s temperature after birth.
- Vernix caseosa and lanugo continues to shed from the baby’s body into the amniotic fluid.
- Meconium continues to build – up, this greenish – black substance is made up of vernix caseosa residue, lanugo shedding, bile, dead skin cells, and amniotic fluid. These combination of by – products is a precursor to bowel movement.
- Vocal chords have fully developed.
- If an expectant mother carries a baby girl, her labia majora are now fully formed which makes the clitoris less prominent. One hint to know the baby’s gender comes from the size and weight of the baby – boys tend to be bigger and heavier than girls.
- The unborn baby is already sporting a full head of hair with strands for about an inch long.
- As of this week, his irises are blue, grey, or brown in pigment. The shade of the irises will reveal itself before he even celebrates his 1st In fact, the baby’s eye color in the first few minutes after birth will not last – exposure to light changes the initial iris pigment.
- Nails have reached the toe and fingertips.
Pregnancy tips and to do’s
Week 38 marks as the 10th week of the 3rd (and final) trimester of gestation, 2 weeks left before the baby – to – be decides to make his debut. There are also 2 weeks left for an expectant mom to do the following things to ensure her baby’s well – being:
Things to do during the 38th week of pregnancy
Consume Vitamin B daily
An expectant mom must consume at least 400 micrograms of Vitamin B (also called folate or folic acid), like leafy vegetables and whole grains. This nutrient aid in the developments of the fetal nervous system such as:
- Essential for fetal cell growth
- Tissue development
- DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) development
- Reduces the risk of severe neural tube defects like spina bifida by 70%
- Lowers the chances that the baby will be born with autism spectrum disorder by 40%
Consume omega – 3 fatty acids
Consume plenty of omega – 3 fatty acids during the latter weeks of pregnancy. This unsaturated fatty acid is essential for the fetal brain and eye development. As a matter of fact, mega – 3 fatty acids is also a major structural fat in those parts.
Here are the following foods which are rich in omega – 3 fatty acids:
- DHA – fortified eggs
BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. This pregnancy diet is highly recommended since these foods are gentle on the digestive valve.
Smooth on some Vitamin E oil
To prevent dry and itchiness, smooth on some Vitamin E oil on the affected area. Vitamin E oil is also best for sore nipples after pregnancy.
Smear on some anti – itch cream
Another option is smearing an anti – itch cream (preferably the pink calamine lotion).
Sleep on the left side of the body
During gestation, always make it a habit to sleep on the left side of the body. This position aims optimum circulation and helps the kidneys function well, which in turn, aids waste elimination.
Invest on nursing pads
When the breasts begins to leak colostrum, invest and insert nursing pads inside the bra.
What to avoid in Week 38
Engaging in vices
Vices are degrading practices in the society which is harmful on both parties. Pregnant women are strictly prohibited from engaging in vices such as:
- Smoking cigarettes and/or e – cigarettes
- Chewing tobaccos
- Drinking beverages with alcohol
- Sleeping pill intake
- Herbal pill intake
Substances with caffeine content
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and a form of psychoactive drug (diuretic) which interrupts the sleeping cycle of both parties. Aside from coffee, here are the following substances with caffeine content:
- Soft drinks
- Energy drink
- Caffeinated snacks and candies
- Some tea
Diarrhea – trigger foods
To lower the chances of diarrhea (loose bowel movement), here are the following foods that she must steer clear away from her plate:
- Dried fruits such as prunes
- Fatty / greasy / fried foods
- Spicy foods
- Milk (especially for lactose intolerant women)
High – sugar beverages
Do not buy beverages with high – sugar content, drinking these draws more water in the abdomen which in turn, prolongs diarrhea. Here are the following high – sugar beverages she must avoid:
- Apple juice
- Grape juice
- Soft drinks
Do not scratch skin
Do not give in to temptation scratching the itchy skin as it may only cause more irritation.
Long periods of standing and/or sitting
To stop the effects of edema, avoid standing and/or sitting in a long period of time.