Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

Pregnancy at week 38

3-minute read


Your baby

Your baby is now ready to be born. They weigh about 3.2kg and measure about 35cm from head to bottom. They may still have some lanugo – fine hair – on their body, but it has mostly disappeared. They are probably covered in vernix, a white, creamy film that protects their skin from amniotic fluid.

The meconium inside your baby’s bowel can sometimes be released during labour. If this happens, it would turn the amniotic fluid green. Your baby would then need to be monitored closely since it could be a sign they are in distress.

BACK TO TOP

Your body

You could go into labour at any time between now and 42 weeks. You might notice the very early signs of labour, which include pressure in your pelvis, cramps or tightening like period pains, backache or diarrhoea. You might have a ‘show’ – when a plug of mucus comes out of your vagina – or your waters might break, either as a trickle or a gush.

You will know if you are in labour when you have strong, regular contractions that last for at least a minute each.

You are probably feeling tired and uncomfortable, but some women get a burst of energy in the last few weeks of pregnancy. You may feel like you need to prepare the house for the baby. Just be careful not to exert yourself physically.

BACK TO TOP

Things to remember

Every labour is different. Often, labour is very slow and can take hours or days. But sometimes, things can move very quickly.

It’s a good idea to have a plan in place for what to do when labour starts. Your doctor or midwife will have discussed with you when to go to the hospital. It’s a good idea to give the hospital a call when you go into labour.

Make sure you know how you will get to hospital when the time comes. Do not drive yourself. If for some reason you can’t contact your partner or support person, make sure you have another way of getting there.

BACK TO TOP

Your pregnancy journey

Click here for week 39


Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2019


Back To Top

Need more information?

38 weeks pregnant | Raising Children Network

38 weeks pregnant? In this pregnancy week by week guide, find out how your baby is growing, how your body is changing and how to look after yourself.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Pregnant with twins? About twin pregnancy | Raising Children Network

Pregnant with twins? Twin pregnancy can have more complications, so you’ll need more check-ups. Here’s what to expect in your pregnancy and antenatal care.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Twins and multiple births - Better Health Channel

Multiple births are more common than they used to be, due to the increased use of assisted reproductive techniques, in particular the use of fertility drugs. Older women are more likely to have a multiple pregnancy and, because the average age at which women give birth is rising, this is also a contributing factor.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Pregnancy - Pregnancy Topics - Caesarean section

A Caesarean is an operation where an incision (a cut) is made through the abdomen and uterus to deliver the baby

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Pregnancy at week 37

By the end of week 37, your baby is considered full-term. You'll probably be very tired because of the extra weight so try and get as much rest as you can.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Giving birth to twins

Twins are more likely to be born early, often before 38 weeks, so it's important to understand your birth options.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Pregnancy: blood tests, ultrasound & more | Raising Children Network

In pregnancy, you’ll be offered blood tests, ultrasound scans, urine tests and the GBS test. Pregnancy tests identify health concerns for you and your baby.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Pregnancy - week by week - Better Health Channel

Pregnancy is counted as 40 weeks, starting from the first day of the mother's last menstrual period.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Baby due date - Better Health Channel

Pregnancy is calculated from the first day of your last period, not from the date of conception.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Baby's development in the womb - MyDr.com.au

A month by month guide to pregnancy and your baby's development in the womb. Starting at the first month, myDr.com.au brings you all the milestones.

Read more on myDr website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.