Pregnancy By Weeks – Week 38

At week 38 the baby is about 7 pounds. The farther along you get the more variation there is on the size of the baby. 38 week babies could be 6 pounds or could be 9 pounds. It depends on how big the baby is ultimately going to be when it is born. 7 pounds is an average size at week 38.

At week 38 most women just want the baby out. This is completely understandable. Having a 7 pound baby inside of you and still trying to negotiate life is hard. It hurts to walk around, it is uncomfortable to sit, and there just isn’t a comfortable way to lay down. You may be having some contractions at this point. Most women are not able to sleep well at 38 weeks. The desire to have the baby is understandable but it is too early to do an elective induction or c-section. There is still a small risk of electively inducing at 38 weeks that does not exist at 39 weeks. It is safer for the baby to wait until week 39 to do something elective. So try to hang in there and finish strong.

Swelling is common at week 38 and often continues to worsen. Swelling in the feet and lower legs is very common. You may notice the swelling in the feet and legs is worse at night while the swelling in the hands is worse first thing in the morning. Be careful if you wear rings. If your hands are swelling take your rings off before they are too difficult to remove. We do see women whose rings gets stuck. Occasionally it can get to the point that the rings begin cutting off circulation to the finger. If this happens, the ring will have to be cut off the finger to allow the blood to flow normally. Swelling is normal but if it is accompanied with high blood pressure and protein in the urine this an be an indication of preeclampsia. This is why the blood pressure and urine are checked at each doctors visit. Swelling should be reasonably symmetrical. If you discover that one leg is very swollen and the other is normal this could be the sign of a blood clot or DVT. This needs to be evaluated right away.

At week 38 you will be anxiously awaiting the onset of labor. The soft signs of labor are very common. The baby may drop, the mucous plug could pass, there may be an increase in vaginal discharge, and there may be some contractions. These are normal and nothing to worry about. You do not need to go to the hospital for these soft signs. When you begin to have regular contractions you can time them. We time contractions from the start of a contraction to the start of the next. When this is every 3-5 minutes and the contractions are taking your breath away you should go to the hospital. If your water breaks you should go to the hospital. Sometimes women are not sure if the water broke or there is just increase discharge ir they lost some urine. Once the water breaks it will continue to leak fluid until you deliver. So if you think you leaked urine and you change your cloths and an hour later you are all wet again, it may be your bag of water.

Helpful Links:

Induction of labor

Labor and Delivery

Labor Precautions

Soft Signs of Labor

Pregnancy Disability 


Fetal Position


Kick Counts

Choosing the Baby’s Doctor

Gestational Diabetes

Placenta Previa

Sleeping Positions While Pregnant

Over the counter medications in pregnancy


Dietary Restrictions in pregnancy