Your guide to being 38 weeks pregnant
You’re almost there… how are you coping?
Your baby’s lung are now producing large amounts of the homone cortisol, which helps to produce surfactant, the substance that stops the lungs from sticking together. This will help ensure your baby’s transition from breathing amniotic fluid to breathing air once she’s born is as seamless as possible, but it may take a few hours until her breathing pattern is completely normal.
Her fat stores are continuing to build up, enabling her to regulate her body temperature and while she may still have some vernix on the surface of her skin when she’s born, it will mainly be in creases and crevices of the skin.
What’s happening to you
Hot, bothered, heavy, tired? The end is in sight now! Your baby’s skull is still very soft and pliable so that hopefully her passage through the birth canal will be a bit easier on your both. Some of the bones in her skull will only fuse together after the birth and you’ll notice a soft spot, the fontanelle, on the very top of her head. This won’t completely close over until she’s 18 months old, and shouldn’t be touched or pushed.
You may be getting Braxton Hicks even more frequently – these practice contractions help encourage more blood flow into the placenta, which is particularly important at this stage as the placenta has reached maturation now.
At your antenatal appointment this week your midwife will check to see what position your baby is in and how far engaged her head is. She may also check to see how dilated you are and whether your cervix is effaced (thinned out). Remember though that every pregnancy is unique – your cervix can be 3cm dilated for weeks before labour starts, or it may be closed during an examination one day, and open and ready for labour a few hours later!
Not so much a niggle as an exciting development! Any time from now don’t be too surprised if you have a show. This is when the plug of mucus sealing the neck of your womb comes away. If it happens, you’ll see a blood – streaked mucus – discharge in your knickers – a sign that things may get going any day from now (although be prepared to wait, as it can take another week or so).
When to check it out
While a show may be lightly bloodstained, you should call your midwife immediately if you experience any bleeding. Bleeding at this stage can be a sign that your placenta is in the wrong position or is separating from the wall of your womb, both of which can be dangerous for you and your baby.
‘To do’ this week
Eat pineapple! It contains an enzyme (bromelain) that is thought to help soften the cervix and prepare it for labour.
Wow! Did you know…
If a light is shown at your bump then your baby will turn towards it. This is known as the ‘orienting response’ – the reflex that causes an organism to respond immediately to a change in its environment.