Week 38 of pregnancy: Brush-up on what to expect

Your baby is now about the size of a leek, 45 cm in length from head to heel and weighing about 3.2 kg.

Fat is still accumulating on your baby’s body, although growth is slower now. You may notice that your weight gain has decreased or ceased.

Since your baby has had the muscles to suck and swallow amniotic fluid, waste material has been accumulating in his or her intestines.

Cells shed from the intestines, dead skin cells, and lanugo hair is some of the waste products that contribute to meconium, a greenish-black substance.

How is my body changing?

Because your baby is engaged in your pelvis, your bladder is extremely compressed, so feeling the need to urinate frequently is inevitable.

What should I be concerned about?

If your baby is a boy, you and your partner have to make a decision about circumcision. Circumcision is a surgical procedure to remove the foreskin of the penis in male babies.

For some parents the decision to circumcise is a religious one. For others, the choice is not as easily made. Talk to your health care provider about the issues surrounding circumcision, including pain relief options for the baby.

What should I tell my doctor during visits?

Prenatal care will continue after you pass your due date. Your health care provider will watch for your health and also check your cervix to see if it’s begun to thin and dilate in preparation for labour.

If you’re more than one week past your due date, your health care provider might track your baby’s heartbeat with an electronic foetal monitor or use and ultrasound monitor to observe your baby’s movements and measure the amount of amniotic fluid.

What tests should I know about?

As you near your due date, your doctor may do regular pelvic examinations to determine your baby’s position inside your uterus.

Those tests can help estimate the position of your baby for delivery: top-first, leg-first or bottom-first in your womb.

Most babies get into top-first position by the end of pregnancy. In an anterior position, your baby fits snugly into the curve of your pelvis.

During a pelvic exam, doctor will also do a cervical exam to check whether your cervix has begun to open or soften or thin. This information will be shown by numbers and percentage.

What should I know about being healthy and safe while pregnant?

• Alcohol

Do not worry if you are using medicines which contain alcohol in pregnancy. The small amount of alcohol does not cause serious problems as does actually drinking alcohol.

• Medicines

Aspirin and other alcohol medicines usually contain “discouraged” ingredients for pregnant women, so ask your health care provider before taking medicines while pregnant.

This article first appeared in hellodoktor.com and was reviewed by Dr Duyen Le. The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.