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Week 38

Your baby is now "full term" and could come any day now!

What's happening in my body?

At your antenatal appointment, which is due around now, your midwife or doctor will measure the size of your bump with a tape measure and check your blood pressure.

They will also look for any protein in your urine that could indicate that you've got a dangerous condition called pre-eclampsia. This can happen in the 2nd half of pregnancy or after the baby is delivered.

If you're having a planned caesarean, otherwise known as an elective caesarean, then you'll probably be booked in when you're at least 39 weeks' pregnant. This is to give your baby's lungs the best chance of being fully developed.

You'll have a chat about what might happen if you go beyond 41 weeks. There could be risks for you or the baby, so you may be offered an induction. This is where labour can be brought on artificially by putting a tablet or gel in your vagina. Around 1 in 5 labours are started this way.

5 tips for a happy home birth

Around 1 in 50 women in England have their babies at home, supported by a midwife.

Here are some tips for a happy, healthy home birth:

  • Be organised and have everything put aside for the big day, which should include something to wear in labour, a nursing bra, breast pads, maternity pads and new-baby essentials.
  • Plan pain relief with your midwife. You may want a TENS machine, a birthing ball and a birthing pool. You can arrange for your midwife to bring Entonox (gas and air) and pethidine on the day.
  • Put aside some towels and waterproof sheets – you'll need them to soak up the fluids.
  • Think about the atmosphere you'd like to create – will you burn scented candles and play your favourite music?
  • Have a bag packed just in case there are complications and you need to get to hospital in a hurry. Week 33 has advice on what to pack.

Flexibility is the key, whatever type of birth you choose. Ultimately your baby is the boss – and all everyone wants for you is a safe, peaceful delivery.

Baby sling safety

Many parents use a sling or baby carrier instead of a pram to keep their baby close to them.

If you decide to use a sling, make sure you know how to use it safely, as a small number of deaths from suffocation have been linked to slings.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) advises the safest slings are the ones that hold your baby solidly against your body, in an upright position.

Make sure you can see your baby, that their face is not restricted, and their airways are always clear.

The "Ticks" rule to keep your baby safe when wearing a sling or carrier is:

  • T – tight
  • I – in view at all times
  • C – close enough to kiss
  • K – keep chin off the chest
  • S – supported back

Read more about sling safety and the "Ticks" rule on the RoSPA website.

3rd trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 38 weeks)

One new symptom this week could be frustration or even boredom. It really won't be long now, try to be patient!

Your signs of pregnancy could also include:

You may also experience symptoms from earlier weeks, such as:

Read Tommy's guide to common pregnancy symptoms

What does my baby look like?

Your baby, or foetus, is around 49.8cm long from head to heel. That's approximately the length of a stick of rhubarb.

In the 2nd trimester, your baby was covered in a furry coat of soft, downy hair (lanugo). That's mostly gone now, although some babies are born with patches here and there.

Your baby is storing up some sticky green slime in their bowels (meconium). This is made up of everything they swallow in the womb, including bits of amniotic fluid and hair. It will normally come out after the birth as the first poo.

If the baby does a poo during labour, it can be a sign of distress and your baby will need close monitoring.

Composite. One side shows a foetus attached to the placenta by the umbilical cord. The foetus is recognisable as a baby. Other side shows a person holding a bunch of rhubarb sticks..
Your baby is about the length of a stick of rhubarb.

Action stations

Are you feeling cooped up at home? It's fine to go for a walk outside to get some fresh air, but take your notes with you just in case.

This week you could also...

Think about stopping work

You may be on your maternity leave now or about to stop work.

Find out how much maternity leave and pay you're entitled to.

Start doing pelvic floor exercises

It's a good time to tone up your pelvic floor muscles. Gentle exercises can help to prevent leakage when you laugh, sneeze or cough.

Get the muscles going by pretending that you're having a pee and then stopping midflow.

Visit Tommy's for more information on pelvic floor exercises.

Antenatal classes

Ask your midwife or doctor about online antenatal classes – they may be able to recommend one. The charity Tommy's has lots of useful information on antenatal classes and preparing you for birth.

Ask your partner if they would like to take part in the antenatal classes. Even if you've had children before, antenatal classes are still worth going to as you can meet other parents-to-be.

The NCT offers online antenatal classes with small groups of people that live locally to you.

Smoking, drinking and caffeine in pregnancy

Do your best to stop smoking and give up alcohol, and go easy on the tea, coffee and anything else with caffeine.

Ask your midwife or GP for support.

Vitamins in pregnancy

To keep bones and muscles healthy, we need vitamin D.

From late March/early April to the end of September, most people make enough vitamin D from sunlight on their skin. However, between October and early March, you should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement because we cannot make enough from sunlight.

Some people should take a vitamin D supplement all year round, find out if this applies to you on the NHS website.

You just need 10 micrograms daily (it's the same for grown-ups and kids). Check if you're entitled to free vitamins.

Exercising in pregnancy

It's recommended that you do 150 minutes of exercise a week while pregnant.

You could start off with just 10 minutes of daily exercise – perhaps take a brisk walk outside. Check out Sport England's #StayInWorkOut online exercises (scroll to the pregnancy section).

Listen to your body and do what feels right for you.

Healthy eating

There's no need to eat for 2.

Now you're in the 3rd trimester, you may need an extra 200 calories a day, but that's not much. It's about the same as 2 slices of wholemeal toast with margarine.

You just need to eat a healthy balanced diet, with a variety of different foods every day, including plenty of fruit and veg. Have a look at our guide to healthy eating in pregnancy.

You may be able to get free milk, fruit and veg through the Healthy Start scheme.

Emotional and mental wellbeing

How are you today?

If you're feeling anxious or low, talk to your doctor or midwife who can point you in the right direction to get all the support that you need. You could also discuss your worries with your partner, friends and family.

You may be worried about your relationship, or money, or having somewhere permanent to live.

Don't keep it to yourself – it's important that you ask for help if you need it.


Getting pregnant again is probably the last thing on your mind right now. However, now is a good time to start planning what type of contraception you would like to use after your baby is born.

Getting pregnant again could happen sooner than you realise, and too short a gap between babies is known to cause problems.

Talk to your GP or midwife to help you decide.

Talk to your midwife about newborn screening

You will be offered newborn screening tests for your baby soon after they are born.

These screening tests are recommended by the NHS because they can make sure your baby is given appropriate treatment if needed.

Your decisions about whether or not you want these screening tests will be respected, and healthcare professionals will support you.

Ask your midwife or doctor for more information about newborn screening.

More in week-by-week

Week 39

Pregnancy normally lasts around 40 weeks and most women will go into labour a week either side of their due date. That means any day now.

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