38 weeks pregnant
Time may feel as though it’s standing still and every small twinge has you on the alert
Clue up on the signs that mean labour is really about to start. You may have some false alarms, so don’t hesitate to call your midwife for advice and reassurance. Excitement will be competing with nerves – and that goes for your partner as well. No one can predict how labour is going to turn out, but before the big day it’s helpful to agree on what your partner’s role should ideally be.
1.Breathing is now rhythmical, with your baby making around 40 breathing movements every minute.
2.The baby is so low down in your pelvis that you have probably exchanged discomfort in your upper abdominal area for pressure on your bladder.
3.At 39 weeks the average crown to heel length is 50.7cm (20in) and the average weight is 3.3kg (7.3lb).
4.The head may be covered with hair, a few wispy strands – or no hair at all.
5.The eye is large and well formed, although its neural networks are not yet sophisticated enough for the baby to focus. Vision in newborns remains poor for a few weeks after birth while the eye continues to develop.
In week 39 of pregnancy you’ve most likely not been through any dramatic changes which you didn’t experience earlier. By this week your baby should weigh approximately 3-3.4 kg.
What are you about to experience?
As you near the end of your pregnancy, your cervix will become effaced. Effacement is the process through which the cervix prepares for giving birth. After your baby drops down in the pelvis, he/she will gradually descend closer to the cervix. The cervix will also become thinner and softer. If your doctor uses terms like ‘cervical ripening’ or ‘cervical thinning’ both of them refer to effacement.
Your baby’s development
Your baby is continuing to develop a layer of fat underneath his/her skin. This is an important part of your baby’s ability to regulate body temperature. Your baby is also beginning to form new skin cells to replace older skin cells.
Changes in you
You're probably feeling increasingly uncomfortable by now, as you move around with your huge belly its contents. Your pelvis maybe achier as your baby bears down.
- Contractions: If Braxton-Hicks contractions (Irregular, painless, squeezing sensation in your abdomen, may be Braxton Hicks. The muscles of your uterus tighten for approximately 30 to 60 seconds or as long as 2 minutes. Braxton Hicks are also called “practice contractions” because they will prepare you for true labour contractions. At irregular intervals, they could be thinning out your cervix in preparation for delivery. ) are irregular and go away when you change position or walk around, you are probably experiencing false labour. However, false labour can turn into real labour in a matter of minutes. Also, if your water breaks, it's go time.
- Exhaustion and mood swings: The weight of the growing belly, coupled with difficulty in walking, aches and pains, and frequent urination may really be driving you to the edge wanting you to deliver your baby asap. But remember it is good for the baby to stay inside the womb till ready to arrive. Also, you may have difficulty in sleeping at night. Find a comfortable position—be in on the couch or the bed—and try to get maximum sleep.
Now is the time to get a haircut because it may be months before you can go out for one and you would want to look nice in your photos when the baby arrives. Also, indulge yourself with a facial or some spa treatments (but do ensure you get a therapist who is trained in handling pregnant women).
Keep up the exercise, be it walking with your partner or swimming under some supervision. You can also indulge in some shopping. See your friends, meet them for a cup of tea because this will be different when your baby is born.
Nutrition for you
In pregnancy, your body goes through many physical and hormonal changes. The way you feed your body during this time will affect the health of your baby.
- Nuts: Eat a handful of nuts every day as they are rich in natural oils and vitamins. Just be careful that too much can add too many calories. Nuts also provide you with the requisite carbs (needed for energy), fats (needed for your energy and baby’s brain development), and protein etc.
- Avoid leftovers: Even if leftovers are stored in refrigerator, they can carry some bacteria which aren’t really good for you or your baby. Try eating fresh food.
Some of the common worries you may experience at this stage are:
- Water break: One in 10 women experience a water break before labour starts, but it can be slightly difficult to tell if the wetness is amniotic fluid (Amniotic fluid is a clear, slightly yellowish liquid that surrounds the fetus during pregnancy. It is contained in the amniotic sac. It is a protective layer and helps in bone growth and lung development) or urine. Visit your doctor if you face any leakage.
- Colostrum leak: Your breasts may be bigger and leaking colostrums (Colostrum is the first stage of breast milk that occurs during pregnancy and lasts for several days after the birth of your baby. It is thicker than the milk that is produced later in breastfeeding). If they're not leaky or bigger, don't worry. Neither is a sign that you'll have difficulty breastfeeding.
What do the experts suggest?
“This last week should be spent with your loved ones. If this is your first pregnancy, spend quality time with your partner as once baby arrives you won’t be able to spend enough time with him as the baby will demand your attention. If this is your second child, spend quality time with your older child and get them involved in your preps of welcoming the new baby.”
Dr. Sangeeta Malhotra
CGHS Maternity and Gynea Hospital, Delhi
What do some of the moms say?
Let’s hear what moms have to say.
“I was sleeping when suddenly I felt wet. I got up from my bed and there was a sudden water break and a lot of liquid came rushing out. I immediately woke my husband up and we rushed to the hospital. 16 hours later I was holding my son in my hands,” shares Madhu.
“By this stage I used to be constantly tired and didn’t have any energy left in me to focus even on my older child. So, I called over my mom to stay with me. That was perhaps the best decision I took. She not only took care of my son, but also helped pack my hospital bag, set up the room to receive the new baby and take care of me. So, don’t feel shy of asking for help,” says Shikha Mishra, mom to a four-month old baby.
Seasonal Pregnancy Care
Pregnancy requires care, despite any season, but sometimes you need extra attention.
Summer: Stay indoors during peak hours; enjoy a movie indoors, with a glass of cool lemonade. Also, take care of your hydration and skin.
Monsoon: The gloomy and humid weather may bring frequent mood swings as well as chances of infections or communicable diseases. Wash your hands frequently to avoid catching an infection. Change your footwear to avoid slipping. Also maintain optimal vaginal hygiene by keeping the area dry and changing your underwear frequently.
Winter: An over-hot bath may increase your body temperature. This heat can lower your blood pressure causing discomfort. These risks are greater with a Jacuzzi or hot tub, which are maintained at a constant high temperature. Take a bath with lukewarm water.