Pregnancy Week 38

Learn about your baby's development while you're 38 weeks pregnant, plus how to deal with persistent headaches and exercising issues late in pregnancy.

Week by week baby size image. Week by week baby size image.

How big is baby?

Your baby is about the length of a stalk of rhubarb. Connections are forming in her brain that will help her swallow and even sleep better once she's born.

Baby's Length: 19.61in.
Baby's Weight: 6.80lb.
Fetus at Week 38 What the baby looks like at week 38 of fetal development. Med ART Studios Explore More

Baby's Development

Your baby's hanging out, enjoying her last few weeks of snuggly comfort in your womb. However, if she were born today, she would still be considered a full-term infant. Her brain — in charge of complicated jobs like regulating breathing, digestion, and circulation — is functioning better every day. Babies come to term anywhere between 38 and 42 weeks; your 40-week due date simply marks the midpoint of this period.

Baby Week 38

Your baby is still getting heavier each day. By now he or she usually weighs close to 7 pounds with a maximum height of approximately 20 inches.Your baby has spent some time swallowing proteins in the amniotic fluid which will help form the first bowel movements. The first bowel movement after birth is called meconium which is typically thicker and darker than subsequent newborn movements.Immunoglobulins (also called antibodies) will help your baby fight infections throughout the baby's life. Until now, these important proteins have been delivered to your baby via the umbilical cord but will soon be provided through breast milk.Your baby's digestive system has not fully developed, in part because it has not yet begun processing food. The first taste of breast milk after birth will help the baby's digestion develop further.
Week by week baby ultrasound image. Week by week baby ultrasound image. American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine -

Week 38 Ultrasound

During the last few weeks of gestation, your baby has less and less room to move. A few weeks (and pounds) ago, she may have been kicking and wiggling constantly; now she simply doesn't have enough room. If you or your health care provider have any concerns about your baby's development, especially if her movement becomes too infrequent, you may have an ultrasound to check up on her. This image shows the results of monitoring a baby's heart rate in utero. At the top, the baby's heart beats; below, the lined measurements track and then determine baby's heart rate to make sure it's within the normal range.

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Watch Baby's Growth

What Week 38 of Your Pregnancy is Really Like

Mom's changing body

Your water could break any day now, and if you're thinking that means you're doomed for an embarrassing public scene, think again. Most women start to notice a wetness running down the leg, not a sudden gushing of water to the floor, so you should have enough time to get to a bathroom and call your doctor.

Weekly Tip

Many moms-to-be may find themselves in full-on nesting mode right now. Cleaning and straightening up is a great way to stay busy during the end-of-pregnancy waiting game, but make sure you don't overdo it -- hello, you're nine months pregnant! Save up some of that energy -- you're gonna need it for labor!

Pregnancy Confidential Podcast

Baby Blues vs. Postpartum Depression: Knowing the Warning Signs

It's Week 38: you're probably bouncing up and down on your birthing ball, desperate to get this darn baby out one day, and terrified of the reality of actually being a mom the next. It's an exciting/nerve-wracking time with a lot on your mind (to keep you up at 4 a.m., thank you very much). It's often the fear of the unknown that can be the scariest of all, and one major unknown is how you'll really feel when the dust settles and you've got a newborn to take care of. With more celebs, like Hayden Panettiere, opening up about postpartum depression, you might be wondering: Will it happen to me?

This Week's To-Do List