38 weeks pregnant

You and your baby's development

What's happening in week 38 of your pregnancy

By week thirty eight you might be ready to serve an eviction notice on your little one!

At a glance

  • Your baby is waiting for your contractions to start so they can finally meet you
  • Get lots of rest in the last few days before baby arrives
  • Try some natural ways to bring on labour if you are getting bored of waiting
38 Weeks pregnant

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How big is my baby at 38 weeks?

  • Your baby is completely ready to be born now, and is at full term. The average weight at 38 weeks is around 7lbs but of course this will vary with each baby. Developmentally and size-wise they are absolutely perfect little newborns, and the only remaining part of their pregnancy journey is meeting you both!
  • Their organs are now all fully formed and ready for life outside their home for the past 9 months. One remaining change left to happen is the eye colour of your baby which will still be changing due to the lack of pigment. It’s common for babies to be born with blue or grey eyes but for these to turn green or brown after birth.
  • They are most likely very low down in your tummy now, head engaged and just waiting for the release of the hormones which will get the contractions started to push them out!

Interesting Facts about your baby in week 38

  • At birth, your baby's head is the same size as their hips, abdomen and shoulders and will change shape through the first few weeks after the birth.
  • Baby has a firm grasp, which you'll soon be able to test when you hold their hand for the first time

You at 38 weeks pregnant

As close as you are to giving birth remember your baby's movement should follow their own pattern even at this late stage, any changes to this, it's important to speak to your midwife. Don't be put off until the next day to see what happens. Hospital maternity units are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - midwives would much rather you called them than were worried.

Massaging your perineum (the area of tissue between your vagina and anus) can reduce the chance of the area being damaged in birth (with a tear or bruising). This is said to be particularly beneficial if you are having your first baby so get massaging.

You are no doubt impatiently ticking the days off on the calendar now, and wondering every morning if today will be the day! Try and make the most of your last few days before baby arrives by getting as much rest as you can, ready to meet your newborn.  

You might be plagued by well-wishers phoning, texting and emailing to ask if 'anything is happening' yet – very annoying but also quite nice that everyone is as excited as you to meet your new little baby!

Some mums are convinced that there are natural ways to get labour started when they get to this point in their pregnancy, from eating pineapples to having sex!

If you are bored of waiting to meet your new baby son or daughter, you might want to try a few of them to see if there is any truth in the rumours! 

Facts to know about you in week 38

  • Losing your mucus plug is one of the signs of labour starting but the time left can be hours, days or weeks.
  • Pelvic floor exercises aren't only for the run up to birth - in fact do them immediately after birth - as long as you don't have a catheter in.
  • If contractions last more than 30 seconds, coming around every 5 minutes, it'll be time to make that call!
  • Babies born after 42 weeks are described as 'post-term' while those born before 37 weeks are 'preterm' or 'premature'.

What to think about in week 38

It's a good idea to prepare for the early stages of labour which is likely to be at home. Think about having plenty of snacks and drinks in, a birthing ball, a TENS machine, a hot water bottle or heat pack to aid back ache.

If the first question that crosses your mind when you think about labour is ‘what about pain relief?’ you’re not alone! So, we thought you’d be interested to know that 68% of Bounty mums have gas and air, 29% have an epidural and 10% opt for no pain relief at all.

There are a few risks and side effects to consider when choosing to have an epidural but they are considered safe and effective in helping you feel less or no pain labour from the waist down. The injection of anaesthetic is given the lower back. It takes 20 minutes to set up and has an immediate effect. It won't make you feel confused or drowsy, but it may have a patchy effect and can make the second stage of your labour longer. You may have a headache after labour and some women say it causes short-term backache.  

There is also the option of a mobile epidural that is similar to a low-dose epidural. While offering you great pain relief, you also keep limited feeling in your legs allowing you to move around which can help your labour to progress.

Did you also know that if you choose to have an epidural, side-lying can be helpful too? Research shows that women lying on their side in the second stage of labour following epidurals are more likely to have a vaginal birth without forceps or ventouse.

Have you thought about setting up a memory box for your impending arrival? Many mums like to create a little archive or keepsake of their pregnancy and the first few days of their baby's life. You could put copies of your scan pics, your maternity notes, even your positive pregnancy test in it! 

Once your baby is here, you'll have their hospital ID bracelets, cord clamp, new baby cards and lots of other little 'memories' to go in, too. It's not only nice to look back on once they are a bit bigger, but also lovely to share with them when they are older!

If you can, take a little time out for you before your due date to do some things and plan some treats that may not be possible again for some time.

Whatever it is that gives you ‘me’ time, do it now, even if it’s not that wild or indulgent. Grab your lounging gear, some popcorn, boot up the Netflix and pull the curtains firmly closed. Or if it’s your close friends that are the best tonic, get them round for cakes and a pedicure session. You might even be able to do your own toes soon!

If this is not your first child you may be wondering how your older child/children will cope with the new arrival. 

It’s worth taking a little time to plan how are going to introduce older siblings to the new baby as depending on ages, reactions can be met with a dazzling range of emotions; from pure joy to indifference, to jealousy!

Step into their shoes for a second, especially if they’re an only child. The arrival of the new baby brings changes to the time they get to spend with mum and dad and alterations to their daily routine all of which can - understandably - be quite a lot to take in!  

Signs and symptoms at 38 weeks pregnant


Studies have shown that the urge to nest comes from a need in a mum to 'protect and prepare' for her unborn baby. What it basically means is that you get a surge of energy in the weeks leading up to your due date and want to clean and prepare your home for your new arrival. For many, this instinct can get quite out of hand and not only do they have the urge to clean, for some they can want to redecorate. Controlling the environment you are going to bring your new baby into is what drives this urge.

Mucus plug

Losing the mucus plug doesn’t happen to everyone but if it does – it’s telling you everything’s moving in the right direction.  And if it doesn’t, don’t worry it’s only one sign that labour is starting. Losing the mucus plug is a sign that your cervix is starting to open and labour may follow quickly or within a few days. The plug may come out as one blob-like lump, or in several pieces - or simply as increased vaginal discharge over a few days. 

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At a glance

  • Your baby is waiting for your contractions to start so they can finally meet you
  • Get lots of rest in the last few days before baby arrives
  • Try some natural ways to bring on labour if you are getting bored of waiting

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