As week 38 begins, you’re in the second week of the tenth month of your pregnancy. A lot has already changed in your life, but there’s no feeling quite like the joyful anticipation when you’re about to meet your baby.
Your baby has grown another centimetre in length and now measures 49 cm long – about as big as a stick of rhubarb. They now weigh 3096 grams, so more than 3 kilograms, and they’re quickly approaching their birth length and weight.
If you have been getting Braxton Hicks contractions, you may notice that these are beginning to get stronger now. You'll probably find yourself pausing for a moment, wondering ‘is this it?’. You may even make a couple of fruitless trips to the hospital – don’t worry if you do, you're certainly not the first or last expectant mum who has done this!
What it’s like for the mum-to-be in week 38
The suspense will be almost unbearable, and you’ll be restless and irritable. The pressure your baby is putting on your pelvic floor will still give you back and abdominal pain, which will put your nerves on edge. It’ll almost certainly be similar for your partner: most dads-to-be feel helpless at this stage, particularly if this is your first child, as they don’t know when it’s finally going to happen either. Even among all the stress, remember that your midwife is there for you whenever you need her. She can also tell you what effect irregular contractions are having on your baby and what they mean in terms of beginning the process of giving birth.
Your body prepares for the birth
If your body is ready for the birth, your mucus plug now loosens. Throughout your pregnancy it has “sealed” your cervix and ensured that no bacteria could get through to your uterus. When it loosens, you will notice increased white discharge (which can also contain a small amount of blood) – this is often called the “bloody show”. Once this happens, the process of giving birth will usually begin 24 hours later with real labour, which will last a few days and includes irregular contractions before the birth itself.
Other signs can be heartburn, nausea, diarrhoea and tiredness – your body is preparing you for birth and beginning to “cleanse” itself. Feeling tired is your body’s way of telling you to rest and gather your thoughts.
So in week 38, you should listen to your body, pay attention to the symptoms you experience and try to relax otherwise. Enjoy the last few days of your pregnancy – before too long, you and your partner will be welcoming the newest member of your family.
You’ll be glad to know that your bump’s about as big as it’s going to get. You might be finding it difficult to get comfortable these days. The best position for sleep is probably on your side, with your top leg resting over on a couple of pillows. If you're sitting upright in a chair, try putting your feet on a couple of cushions.