Week 38 of Your Pregnancy
Every labour is different. Often, labour is very slow and can take hours or days. But sometimes, things can move very quickly.
It’s a good idea to have a plan in place for what to do when labour starts.
PREGNANCY WEEK 38
Your Body at Week 38 of Your Pregnancy
Shortness of Breath
Your uterus can now be felt about 4 inches above your belly button. This means that your uterus is pushing all the internal organs that used to be there somewhere else, crowding your diaphragm and lungs and making it more difficult for them to expand fully. Your body is spare on air and will be until your baby drops near the end of pregnancy in preparation for birth. While this shortness of breath may feel very uncomfortable to you, your baby is fine as he’s getting his oxygen from the placenta.
You may have pelvic pain due to joint flexibility. There is also the pressure from your baby's head burrowing deeper and deeper into your pelvis and your heavier uterus weighing you down. To relieve the discomfort, relax with your hips elevated, take warm baths, apply warm compresses
You might feel clumsier than normal, which is perfectly understandable. Not only are you heavier, the concentration of weight in your pregnant belly causes a shift in your center of gravity. Plus, thanks to hormonal changes, your ligaments are more lax, so your joints are looser, which may also contribute to your balance being a bit off. Balancing your body gets harder this week as you waddle toward the finish line — just a few more weeks to go! Continue to play it safe.
With the hormonal changes, midnight bathroom runs, leg cramps, heartburn and your big belly, sleep is a problem. Many women may also be coping with anxiety about the upcoming birth and a mind that is filled with their to-do-before-the-baby-comes list.
Your body needs rest and worrying will not help.
Instead, do your best to get comfy — before bed and when you get in it. Have a warm cup of milk before sleeping. Ask your partner for a massage. You deserve it!
Strong Baby Movements
You’ll feel your baby moving every day now, sometimes with a punch or a kick! and some times with a wiggle or stretch. You can also expect more activity after you’ve eaten and when you’re lying down. You may feel fewer hard kicks at this stage. Always check with your doctor if you feel there are some other changes.
Braxton Hicks Contractions
Around this time some women may experience Braxton Hicks Contractions. Your uterus tightens or hardens, these are irregular contractions. It may feel like a tightening sensation that begins at the top of your uterus and then spreads downward.
How do you know they aren’t real labor? They’ll stop if you change position, so try getting up if you’re lying down or walking if you’ve been sitting. If they are real labor contractions, they'll become progressively stronger and more regular — so in that case, call your doctor.
As your breasts get bigger in the third trimester, they may also leak a yellowish fluid called colostrum, which is the precursor to breast milk. This liquid, packed with protein and antibodies, is the first milk your baby will get. If the leaks are getting uncomfortable, try wearing nursing pads.
Your uterus puts more pressure on your bladder in the third trimester, giving it less room to store urine. Cut down on the bathroom trips by double voiding: Pee, then when you’re done, pee again. That’ll make sure you’ve emptied your bladder completely.
More than half of all pregnant women experience swollen, itchy veins in the rectum due to the bigger uterus pressing down as well as to increased blood flow to the area. Hemorrhoids can be painful and even cause rectal bleeding.
Constipation can aggravate them, so your best bet at prevention is to increase your fluid and fiber intake and to eat plenty of fiber-rich foods, like fruits, veggies and whole grains.
Your baby's head and your growing uterus may rest on the sciatic nerve in the lower part of your spine. If that happens, you may feel sharp, shooting pain, tingling or numbness that starts in your buttocks and radiates down the back of your legs — known as sciatica. The pain of sciatica can be quite intense at times, and though it may pass if your baby shifts positions, it can also linger until you've delivered. Talk to your doctor about it.
Swelling in Feet and Ankles
During pregnancy your body tissues accumulate excess fluid that is needed to support you and your baby, this may cause swelling in your ankles and feet. Because fluid tends to pool in the feet due to gravity. Reduce water retention in your feet by avoiding standing or sitting for long periods of time — and try to keep your legs elevated when you can. Also keep yourself hydrated.
Heartburn and Indigestion
If you’ve got a burning sensation from the depths of your stomach to your mouth after you eat, then you’ve got pregnancy-induced indigestion and heartburn. Avoid heartburn triggers like spicy or fatty foods and caffeinated drinks and ask your doctor about pregnancy-safe heartburn remedies.
Hormones relax your bowel muscles, so they are not that efficient in moving the waste products out from your body. Add high-fiber foods to your diet, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, along with plenty of fluids, too.
Your growing baby is putting more demands on your body, and insomnia may be leaving you dead tired during the day. So ask for help and get help.
Blood streaked Vaginal Discharge
The discharge from your vagina may be increasing and getting thinner. Don’t be shocked if you notice the mucous is pinkish, red or brownish after you’ve had sex or a vaginal examination. That just means that your cervix, which is sensitive now and may be starting to dilate, has been bruised.
During this time of your pregnancy you are mostly tired and exhausted. But you may also get the burst of extra energy known as the nesting instinct — a need to get organized and ready for the baby. If you do feel energized, take breaks to rest and eat.
You may be experiencing more discharge now and you may even pass the mucus plug — a clear, yellow or brown glob of mucus that’s been corking your cervix throughout your pregnancy — as you become dilated. Does this mean that labor is imminent? Maybe. But it could be days or even weeks away.
Think of loose bowel movements as nature’s way of making enough room for the baby to emerge. So if you’re having diarrhea this week, it may mean that labor is imminent. Drink lots of water and eat lightly.
Your Baby at Week 38 of Your Pregnancy
How big is my baby?
Your baby is now ready to be born. They weigh about 3.2kg and measure about 35cm from head to bottom. They may still have some lanugo – fine hair – on their body, but it has mostly disappeared. They are probably covered in vernix, a white, creamy film that protects their skin from amniotic fluid.
The meconium inside your baby’s bowel can sometimes be released during labour. If this happens, it would turn the amniotic fluid green. Your baby would then need to be monitored closely since it could be a sign they are in distress.
Your baby is ready
Your baby is ready and has a firm grasp, which you'll soon be able to test when you hold her hand for the first time!
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