The baby is gaining about one to two ounces a day. Rapid weight gain can mean a healthier baby or an early birth. If your baby measures too large at an ultrasound in the 38th week, the doctor may choose to induce labor to protect your health and your baby's health.
Meconium is also developing in the bowel of the fetus. When the bag of waters breaks, it should be clear. If meconium appears in the amniotic fluid, you will be monitored more closely and labor will be sped along as quickly as possible.
Multiples are normally born in the 38th week if the pregnancy has not ended before now.
There is nothing new happening in the body during the 38th week, but labor preparations are getting underway. You may not feel anything but a lot is going on. Hormones are increasing, the cervix is ripening and the baby is shifting lower and lower in the uterus. At times, it may even feel as though a sharp cough could push baby right out, but that is not going to happen.
Labor starts with pains in the lower back and abdomen. These pains are not that different from Braxton Hicks contractions aside from the fact that they are stronger and last longer. A pattern is quickly revealed and each contraction comes closer and closer to the last until they are right on top of each other. There are several stages of labor. The first stage tends to be the longest, and you generally stay at home through most of the first stage.
At the prenatal visit
Weekly visits may mean seeing the doctor more than the people you love. That is okay because the doctor’s part in the pregnancy is almost over and this is an exciting time! You will now be going to see your doctor or midwife each and every week up until delivery. You may notice you have more questions and concerns about labor and delivery as the time draws closer so now is a great time to get all your questions answered. Soon, your baby will take all your time and trips to the obstetrician or midwife will be replaced with trips to the pediatrician.
The time has come to sleep as much as possible and take on every chore around the house. If there are other children in the home, pack up a few overnight bags to ship them off to friends and family members for a few days after the baby is born. Dad may be feeling a bit guilty from time to time for putting mom through all this pain. Remember, she will not blame you ... for long.
Tips for this week
You may feel nervous about every ache and pain, but learning about pregnancy and its effect on the body can help ease this tension. Some moms-to-be find comfort in knowing all they can so spend some time researching topics of interest.