At pregnancy week 38 the baby is fully formed and developed. Fat continues to be laid down under the skin of the baby. The baby is about 7 pounds and 21 inches long. The baby may or may not increase in length after this week. The fat is laid in folds. The cheeks of the baby become plumper. The heart beats at around 110-160 beats per minute. Most of the soft lanugo is also shed by this time. The body is covered with greasy white vernix.
The baby is tightly curled up in the space of the uterus. Hence the uterus is tight now at pregnancy week 38 and the movement of the baby is not so vigorous. The bone of the baby’s skull is soft. The bones of the skull can ride over and mould to the shape of the birth canal. Due to this a swelling on either side of the baby’s head could be found after birth which is temporary. A test called as Apgar test is conducted after the baby is born. This test is conducted to test the baby’s overall health after delivery. This helps the doctor to evaluate baby’s health and decide about the care that needs to be taken after the delivery.
The belly seems to be lower than before. At pregnancy week 38 women start worrying about the labor process. Now the pregnancy is full term at pregnancy week 38 which means that if the baby is born now, then the baby is a full-grown baby.
There are three kinds of labor, pre labor, false labor and real labor. Pre labor is the time just before actual birth. At this time the mother’s body prepares itself for birth of the child. During pre labor the baby’s head drops into the pelvis, Braxton Hicks contractions, increase in vaginal discharge and increase in nesting instinct are experienced. False labor is like real labor. The contractions in false labor are not regular and are painful. In real labor it is difficult to walk or speak. The contractions appear at regular intervals and become more intense. There is a pain in lower back that has a cramp, menstrual feeling. Real labor starts at the top of the uterus and then gradually spreads over the entire uterus. Even changing positions does not give any relief in real labor. Amniotic fluid will flow from the vagina if there is a break in water. If it is slight it might be felt like urine. To identify this difference is to smell it. It will not smell urine. Pregnant women should keep their vaginal area clean when the water breaks as the baby is now unprotected by germs.
There are different stages of labor. They are: In the first stage the contractions will open up the cervix which is the exit route of the baby. In the second stage, that is the birth stage the mother pushes the baby out and the third stage is the delivery after the birth that is the placenta.
If the contractions are weak nd irregular, women should try and stay at home, and have long baths which are relaxing, eating little and often will keep the energy levels up, try to rest in different positions and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.