38 Weeks Pregnant
What’s happening this week? How is my baby developing?
At 38 weeks pregnant your baby has a very strong grasp reflex, and spends a lot of his time trying to grasp the umbilical cord or curling his hands. Your baby’s development in the womb is complete, including his lungs.
The bones in the skull are still soft, but that is essential to travel down the birth canal. The level of amniotic fluid has started to decrease, but there’s enough to keep your baby comfortable.
Your baby is now about 50 cm and over 3kg, and this will not change much until birth.
How is my body changing?
You’re 38 weeks pregnant and your size is probably not going to change much. All you have to do now is wait for signs of labour.
These include contractions, waters breaking and bloody show. Also, if he hasn’t yet, your baby will drop into your pelvis.
You need to head for the hospital when you’re in the active phase of labour, about 4 cm dilated and contractions lasting 45-60 seconds about 5 minutes apart.
It might be a good idea to stock up the cupboards and the freezer, as you won’t have much time for shopping and cooking the first few days after the birth of your baby.
At this stage, if you have severe swollen ankles and feet, blurry vision and persistent headache contact your doctor immediately, as it may be a sign of preeclampsia. Your weight gain at 38 weeks sits about 30-35 pounds.
The Apgar score – how doctors assess your newborn baby
The Apgar score is a way for the medical staff involved with your birth to assess your baby immediately after birth. It’s done one minute after birth, and again 5 minutes later.
Your doctor will look at your baby respiration and heart beat, skin colour, reflexes and muscle tone. The first test indicates how stressed your baby was by the birthing process, and the second test is to assess how well your baby is doing in the outside world.
High scores indicate normal healthy babies with a strong cry, a good heart beat, pink and warm skin and strong movements.
In contract, low scores happen in babies with difficulty breathing and crying, low heart beat and weak movements, which may need further medical evaluation.