Pregnancy week by week



Week 38 of Pregnancy

As nervous and excited as you may be, you are probably longing for pregnancy to be over, as your bump seems to take over entirely. Your baby is now fully developed and it is just a matter of time before he emerges into a new world. This week you may find that the Braxton Hicks contractions have become more frequent and intense. These contractions prepare your body for labour. They will help the cervix to ripen and dilate; a process called effacement. Use these practice contractions to practise deep breathing. You can experience true contractions and still not be in labour. A sure sign of labour is having your water break. However, early stage labour can last hours or even days especially if this is your first baby.

Your body

You may be going through a very interesting phenomenon called nesting. Here you will find that you have suddenly developed an urge to clean up the house and get everything ready for the new guest. Be careful, lest you will wear yourself out. You need to conserve all your energy for the labour ahead.  Eat healthy, take good rest and take small walks everyday to keep yourself in shape.

You will notice that your Braxton Hicks contractions are getting stronger and more frequent this week. You may experience contractions in the back, abdomen, pelvis and other parts of the body. These can be differentiated from actual labour as the real labour pains tend to begin from the top of the uterus and then slowly move to the whole uterus. True labour pains progressively increase and do not go away on changing positions. Have your partner use a stop watch and practice timing your contractions. If you start having regular contractions that are five minutes apart then you may be in labour. Speak to your doctor about next course of action.

Other symptoms experienced this week are diarrhoea, indigestion, frequent urination, itchy abdomen, difficulty sleeping, enlarged breasts and colostrums, or fatigue. Sleep on your left side with as many pillows as you need for support.

About half of the women who have caesarean know that they will be having one in advance. We explain why you might need a planned or “elective” caesarean and what happens. A C-section, also known as Cesarean birth is where doctor will make an incision in your abdomen and uterus to remove the baby. C-sections are normally planned ahead of time in cases such as; an abnormally large baby, twins, breech birth, placenta praevia (where your placenta covers the cervix), sexually transmitted disease such as HIV, or an active herpes outbreak. Occasionally, C-section may be done during labour without being planned if your placenta separates from the uterine wall before your baby is delivered; the umbilical cord comes out before your baby (cord prolapsed), contractions stop and cannot be forced to begin again, or your baby’s heart rate indicates it would not survive the rest of a vaginal delivery (medically termed fetal distress). If you are planning a C-section birth or have other concerns, you should not hesitate and talk to your doctor ahead of time.

Your baby

Last few weeks, your baby is mainly gaining weight around an ounce per day. She weighs around 2.9 kg. The length of the baby will now remain constant at 19 to 20 inches till the baby is born ( the crown-rump length is 34 cm). Your baby’s lungs and brain are still maturing. However, if you go into labour now, your baby is all set to face the outside world. She may now be low-down in your pelvis. She may be moving regularly, so if you notice your baby is less active, you should contact your doctor. The vernix that was covering and protecting your baby’s skin and the fine downy hair would have mostly disappeared by now.


As your breasts are getting heavier, you may notice some tenderness around your areola. From now on, just use warm water to clean your nipples as soap can dry them out and cause cracks. Moisturize your breasts and continue to wear supportive bra to avoid sore or cracked nipples after delivery.

If you have flat or inverted nipples then your baby can have problem latching on to your breasts properly. You will need to stimulate the adhesions on the nipple to loosen and allow the tip to protrude. Breast shells are available in the market that helps to draw out the nipple by pressing gently on the base. You can start using these breast shells a few weeks before delivery and then 30 minutes before each feeding, to press the nipple outwards. Breast pump can also be used to create vacuum to pull your nipple out if you use it right before breast feeding.


1) What is biophysical profile?

A biophysical profile test measures the health of your baby during pregnancy. In high risk pregnancies, Biophysical profile is used to keep a track of baby’s health till the time he or she is delivered. Conditions like oligohydraminos, decreased foetal movements, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, require regular monitoring of your baby. Biophysical profile test can be done every week or even twice a week if required, during the third trimester.

Biophysical profile is a safe method to monitor how your baby is moving, breathing and reacting. It includes a detailed ultrasound and a non stress test. Through these tests your doctor can calculate the amniotic fluid levels, heart rate, body movements, muscle tone, and breathing movements of the baby. If these five areas are within a normal range, your baby is considered to be in good health.  An abnormal or poor result does not mean that your baby is in immediate danger but it will guide your doctor to make a decision about the future course of action.

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