Your pregnancy: 38 weeks pregnant

Last modified on Friday 13 May 2022

An unborn baby in the womb at 38 weeks pregnant

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With just two weeks to go until your due date, here are some things to expect this week. Plus, what else you can be doing now that you're 38 weeks pregnant and not far off meeting your newborn baby, at last.

What’s happening at 38 weeks?

Here are the key things you can expect from your pregnancy at this stage:

  • Your baby's about as big as they're going to get.
  • This week could be your last appointment with your midwife before the baby arrives.
  • Don't forget to keep an eye on your baby's movements and report any changes to your midwife.
  • Time to get tidy and organised.

How big is your baby?

By this week, the average baby is around the size of a dozen doughnuts, weighing about 3.1kg (that's nearly 7Ib) and measuring about 49.8cm in length.

Your baby could be smaller or bigger but either way they're plumping up and filling out, ready for their arrival in the big wide world.


Although your baby will be short of space to wriggle around this week, they'll still move as much as before, so keep an eye on those movements. If they slow down or stop, or you're worried about them in any way, contact your midwife straight away.

Your little one's nails are hardening now and they might be born with a few scratches on their face as a result. That's why it can be a good idea to have some little scratch mittens ready for your baby to wear after the birth.

While your due date may still be two weeks away, did you know that only 4% of babies actually arrive on their due date? Most babies arrive within a week either side, but some arrive a bit sooner or later than this.

So you could be meeting your baby in the next few days, or it could be a few more weeks. There's no way to tell for sure, so rest when you can to keep your energy up.

12 different coloured doughnuts
Your baby will be around the size of a dozen doughnuts when you're 38 weeks pregnant.

What's going on with your body?

As your body gets ready to produce breastmilk, you may notice tiny drops of colostrum around your nipples. This is the nutrient-rich liquid that you'll feed your baby after the birth, before your breastmilk comes in fully.

As restless as you may feel, try to put your feet up when you can. Bouncing gently on a birthing ball while you watch TV can be a comfortable way to sit and do some gentle stretches, if you're uncomfortable on the sofa.

Keeping calm and relaxed now will help prepare you for labour and birth. Practise any hypnobirthing techniques you've picked up and try these relaxation and breathing exercises, too.

Braxton Hicks contractions can really ramp up in the final weeks of pregnancy. Keep an eye on them; if they come regularly and get consistently stronger, more painful and closer together, it could be the real thing!

Remember, you need to call your midwife when contractions are regular, last at least 60 seconds and come every five minutes. Though of course you can always give them a ring at any time if you're unsure if labour has started, or have any health concerns.

Are you considering grooming your pubic hair before the birth? Many women think about shaving or waxing in these final weeks, but it's actually not recommended.

Shaving and waxing can both cause tiny, invisible cuts to your skin, which can easily get infected. If you do want to do any grooming down there ahead of the big day, it's best to use scissors or clippers to trim the hair short, rather than removing it completely.

Or just leave it au naturel – we promise your baby and your midwife won't care!

What to expect this week: your 38 week antenatal appointment

This week you may have your last routine antenatal appointment before your baby is born. Don't forget your antenatal notes and that pot of pee (if requested).

At this appointment your midwife or doctor should: 

  • use a tape measure the size of your uterus
  • measure your blood pressure
  • test your urine for protein

As well as asking you general questions about your health and your baby's health, to check everything's going well ahead of labour starting.

Your midwife may also be able to work out the position of your baby, which hopefully will be engaged (have dropped down into your pelvis) and be head down at this point.

If the baby's in the breech position (legs and bottom facing downwards), your midwife may recommend booking in for a C-section this week (although some breech babies can be born vaginally).

If you've had an ECV (external cephalic version) to try to turn your breech baby, and it didn't work, you may be offered another one. If you decided you didn't want an ECV, you may still be able to have one. However, this all depends on your circumstances, so talk to your midwife.

If you are planning a vaginal birth, your midwife will also discuss your options for what happens if you go overdue, i.e. your pregnancy lasts longer than 41 weeks.

You may be recommended to book in for a cervical sweep to get things moving around your due date. If this worries you, make sure you ask any questions about the procedure. Remember, you don't have to have one.

She may also talk you through being induced.

Share any concerns you have about this and check whether she wants to book you in for induction now, or at your next appointment, which will happen around your due date at 40 weeks (if this is your first baby), or 41 weeks (if you've had a baby before).

What to do this week: cleaning and nesting

Lots of pregnant women experience a sudden, irresistible urge to clean and generally make their homes into a perfect newborn nest in the final weeks of pregnancy. Yup, the 'nesting instinct' is a real thing!

It’s quite normal, and as long as you don’t wear yourself out, use anything that might create dangerous fumes (certain cleaning fluids), or lift anything heavy, there’s no reason not to indulge yourself. Some women find it occupies the mind and stops them worrying about giving birth.

If you don’t have the urge (or, more likely, embark on a cleaning job and give up exhausted halfway through) then don't worry.

Your baby doesn’t need a pristine, sterile environment to come home to: they'll have some immunity, especially if you breastfeed. In any case, your baby will need to come into contact with some day-to-day germs in order to build their own immune system.

And if the nursery isn't ready yet, don't worry. Your baby will be more interested in milk and sleep than whether their room has matching curtains and bedding.

Besides, remember that your baby should be sharing your room for the first six months to help guard against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

As long as you have a moses basket or crib, a clean, safe mattress and cotton sheets, you'll be ready!

If you're planning to give breastfeeding a go, read up on all you need to know about breastfeeding to get you and your baby off to the best start. Remember, breastfeeding can be hard for the first few weeks, but it gives your baby the best start in life and has benefits for your own health, too, so do seek all the support you need.

It's worth finding details of any local breastfeeding support groups or breastfeeding counsellors now, so you'll have them to hand if you do struggle with breastfeeding to begin with. And remember, the Netmums breastfeeding drop-in clinic is always there to help, with trained Parent Supporters available to answer your questions.

Your 38 week to-do list

1 Make sure you have loose change for hospital parking ready and in the car. Keep the car topped up with petrol, too.

2 Update your birth plan. You might have changed your mind on something you decided earlier on in pregnancy so make sure it's up to date.

3 Keep an eye on your baby's movements; if they slow down or stop call your midwife.

4 Check that you have everything you need in your hospital bag, ready to go.

5 Put your feet up!

What to watch this week...

Get expert tips on what to expect at 38 weeks pregnant from our midwife.

What happens next week...

Want to know what happens when you're 39 weeks pregnant? Or maybe you've already forgotten what you read last week? Just click on the numbers above to find out more about what to expect when you're that number of weeks pregnant.

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