Week-by-Week Pregnancy: 38th Week
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Although the last weeks of your pregnancy may seem to go by very slowly, you are now at 38 weeks, and you are only a few weeks away from delivery. These days, you may feel more tired than ever before, both physically and mentally. While many questions that you wonder the answer to in your mind are swirling around, your baby continues to make his final preparations.
What kind of changes does the 38th week of pregnancy create for expectant mothers? How is your baby this week? We have compiled everything you can think of, from nutrition to exercises, from pregnancy symptoms to a checklist.
Baby at 38th Week
When you reach 38 weeks, you may wonder at what stage your baby’s development is. Here are the answers to all your questions, such as weight, height, development of his systems and senses, and the skills he gained…
How Big Has My Baby got?
Your baby has grown to the size of winter squash this week.
It may surprise you that your baby is still growing when the moment of birth is so close. However, by the 38th week, the physical and mental development of the baby in the womb continues at full speed. Your baby continues to strengthen his muscles and store fat under the skin this week; his body systems make their final preparations.
Gestational Age (Weeks)
These values are the average values of a baby at 38 weeks. Your little one may be overweight or thin, shorter or taller under the control of the doctor. In such cases, you should not worry and remember that it is normal to have such differences in the physical development of every baby. Certain factors determine the physical characteristics of each baby. For this reason, you should not compare the baby’s height and weight, and you should know that this table consists of general values.
Development of Systems and Newly Acquired Skills
At 38 weeks, your baby is ready to be born in many ways. For this reason, births that occur this week are no longer called preterm births. Any birth that occurs between 38 and 41 weeks is considered to have occurred. However, staying in the baby’s womb until 40-41 weeks is very beneficial in maintaining the development of the systems. As long as no problems occur, the birth can start spontaneously until the last day.
So, let’s examine at what stage the organ and system development of the 38-week-old baby is.
Nervous System + Endocrine System
The nervous system is one of the systems in the body that continues to evolve. This week, your little one continues to make the connections necessary to understand, comprehend and interpret what they saw when they were born by continuing the production of nerve cells.
Your pup’s endocrine system is also highly developed. Since he no longer needs the lanugo hairs and the vernix layer, he sheds most of the last remaining hairs on his skin and gets rid of the vernix layer.
The circulatory system
A 38-week-old baby has a heart that beats between 110-150 beats per minute, and the circulatory system sends blood to his whole body.
Your baby continues to develop the sucking reflex and digestive system by swallowing amniotic fluid. These movements constitute the first practices for digestion.
Although the lungs continue to develop by the 38th week of pregnancy, they are largely ready and do their final rehearsals. During breathing, the surfactant substance that prevents the air sacs in the lungs from sticking together continues to be produced.
Support and Movement System
Except for the skull bones, the hardening of the other bones in his body is largely complete. As the calcium deposits in the bones continue, their muscles get stronger day by day.
Your little one urinates by filtering the swallowed amniotic fluid through their kidneys and improves the excretory system. In addition, the lanugo hairs and vernix layer spilled from the skin are mixed with the amniotic fluid and swallowed by the baby. All these substances that are swallowed together with the wastes from the liver, bile, and pancreas accumulate in the large intestines and accumulate meconium, the baby’s first stool.
Your baby’s immunity is getting stronger day by day. The mother’s antibodies continue to enter the baby’s body.
Sense Organs and Developmental Features in 38 Weeks Baby
The sense organs of your little one who sleeps and wakes up in a certain order and can feel your emotions and fatigue will complete their deficiencies by developing their characteristic features this week.
At what stage is the 38-week-old baby’s development when it comes to sense organs? Here’s what your little one has learned this week, step by step…
Eye and Sight
This week, your little one’s eye is almost 3/4 the size of an adult’s eye. The pigments that make up the eye color have not yet completed their formation. Although it can react to light, focusing is not yet possible. These features develop in the postnatal period.
Ear and Hearing
Your baby’s hearing is well developed. You may feel your stomach reacting to a sudden loud noise.
Tongue and Taste
Taste receptors on the tongue are developed.
Nose and sense of smell
The sense of smell that has developed in the previous weeks is ready.
Skin and the Sense of Touch
Although this week has decreased compared to previous periods, your baby continues to store fat under the skin and gain weight. Most of the lanugo feathers are shed, but some may be visible on the shoulders and cheeks after birth. The vernix layer has also been lost to a large extent. The remaining vernix will allow the baby to pass through the birth canal more easily.
38 Weeks Baby Movements
With the 38th week of pregnancy, you may not be able to feel the clarity of your little one’s movements in the previous weeks. Because your baby now has minimal space and cannot perform maneuvers as fast and agile as before. It may also have moved towards the birth canal and stuck due to taking the birth position. All these situations are very effective on 38-week-old baby movements. However, it is still possible for you to feel the pushing movements of your baby’s hands and feet and notice some elevations in certain points of your tummy.
You need to continue to control your baby’s movements in your tummy just a few days before the birth. If your baby has not moved or moved very little within 24 hours, report this to your obstetrician without delay.
Mom at 38 Weeks Pregnancy
When you say excitement, anxiety, impatience, happiness, fear, fatigue, you may have entered the 38th week with the feeling that it will never end.
If you are 38 weeks pregnant, let’s examine together what awaits you this week, what you should be prepared for.
What’s Happening In Your Body?
Capillaries and varicose veins
Increased blood circulation, carrying your baby for a long time, and increasing body weight can cause your veins to dilate above normal, resulting in the formation of capillaries and varicose veins with the appearance of thin blue or red-colored lines. Varicose veins that appear during pregnancy usually disappear after delivery.
Low back and back pain
Low back and back pain, which frequently occurs in different periods of pregnancy, may increase in the last weeks. The role of pregnancy hormones, which prepare the expectant mother for childbirth, and the relaxation of the muscles and the increased body weight in these pains are pretty significant.
Some expectant mothers may feel more energized during these weeks despite coping with many symptoms. You may find yourself working like a bee, especially in matters such as house cleaning, home, and baby room arrangement. These preparations, which are made with the instinct of meeting the new individual who will join your family, are called the nesting instinct and usually occur in the last stages of the last trimester.
Swelling in the feet and ankles
As the baby descends into the birth canal, the pressure on your lower body increases. This pressure forces the veins towards the feet and ankles, slowing the blood flow and causing edema (swelling). In addition, edema may increase with the accumulation of body fluids in the tissues.
Increase in body temperature
The increase in the metabolic rate and the increase in pregnancy hormones can increase the body temperature of the expectant mothers as the birth approaches. During these weeks, you may feel sudden hot flashes and notice that you are hotter than usual.
In addition to all these new symptoms, you may be experiencing other symptoms that have appeared in the previous weeks or that have appeared from time to time:
- Increase in vaginal discharge
- Passing mucus plug (Bloody, slimy discharge)
- Frequent urination
- Braxton Hicks contractions
- Colostrum leakage and breast tenderness
- Hot flashes
- Shortness of breath
- Pressure in the womb
- Leg cramps
- Constipation and hemorrhoids
Tips to Minimize Troublesome Pregnancy Symptoms
The last days of pregnancy are physically exhausting for expectant mothers. Before your baby is born, these days should be evaluated well, and energy should be collected whenever possible.
Practical advice for the mother at 38 weeks of pregnancy are;
- To reduce edema and swelling, reduce your daily salt consumption and drink plenty of water.
- Be careful not to stand for long periods. If you’re staying, be sure to lie down and rest with a bolster under your feet.
- Try to improve your sleep quality and rest well. Take care not to drink too much water before going to bed not to cause you to wake up.
- Maintain your daily energy by consuming healthy and energy-boosting snacks.
- Ask your relatives for help in housework and baby room preparations, and do not tire yourself too much.
- To prevent capillaries and varicose veins, support blood circulation by applying cold water to your legs before getting out of the shower.
- Support your back with pillows while sitting.
How Much Weight Should You Gain?
Your weight gain rate may have decreased this week. But many expectant mothers continue to gain weight these days, as your baby’s actual weight gain usually occurs in the last few weeks. Some expectant mothers can maintain a stable weight.
The weight range prescribed by doctors for 38 weeks of pregnancy is 13-15 kg. The content of this weight is not only your weight; your baby’s weight, the weight of the placenta, the weight of the growing breasts, and increased body fluids also make up. If you are above the estimated weight range, this may be due to the recent edema problem in your body. Your doctor will continue to measure your weight during routine examinations and will give you the necessary warnings where necessary.
By the time you reach 38 weeks, your baby is almost fully developed. You will reach the highest weight you have gained during your pregnancy. For this reason, you may have lost your old care about nutrition. However, nutrition in these weeks is at least as necessary as in other weeks. The expectant mother’s body will need energy during and after birth, and your body’s protein, vitamin, and mineral requirements will increase to be used in the healing and recovery process.
The recommendations for nutrition at 38 weeks of pregnancy are as follows;
- Make sure to drink plenty of water and drink fluids. Even if you have swelling and edema, do not reduce fluid consumption.
- Include iron-rich foods in your meals. As your baby grows, his need for iron will increase. Therefore, consume red meat, raisins, dark green leafy fresh vegetables at regular intervals.
- As your growing belly puts pressure on the stomach, there may be a decrease in appetite. Do not be fooled by this situation, and make sure that you consume enough from all food groups without skipping meals.
- These weeks focus on foods that have high energy content but do not load you unnecessary calories.
- Relieve your digestive and excretory system by consuming whole grain products with high fiber content.
When your stomach is so enlarged, you may have difficulty performing basic movements such as walking, sitting, lying, bending over. However, these difficulties should not prevent you from exercising. Because, thanks to the exercise movements you will perform in the last weeks, your pain will be relieved, and your body will gain the flexibility necessary for childbirth.
You can evaluate the following options as 38 weeks of pregnancy exercises and physical activities that can be done:
- Pregnant pilates
- Pregnant yoga
- Brisk walks not exceeding half an hour
- Stretching movements
- Exercises to facilitate childbirth
- Breathing exercises
Suppose your doctor has any restrictions or warnings for your daily activities during this period. In that case, you should consider this and ask your doctor’s approval for exercises that are suitable for you. You can continue to exercise at 38 weeks of pregnancy without skipping this point.
You can find our postpartum weight loss methods here: 8 Effective tips to loose baby weight after pregnancy.
38. Week Pregnancy Checklist
We can list the things you need to do for the 38th week of pregnancy as follows:
- Avoid tiring yourself. Take a break from physical activities that require excessive energy and get plenty of rest.
- Read books on baby care. Especially if you are a first-time mother, make sure you have information that will help you meet your little one’s needs more easily after birth.
- Buy a stroller so you can keep your baby safe when you get them out of the hospital.
- Prepare your body by incorporating squats and stretches that facilitate childbirth into your daily workouts.
With the 38th week of pregnancy, you are only a few weeks away from meeting your baby. Enjoy these last days and complete your final preparations.
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