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Pregnancy at week 38

5-minute read

Your baby

Your baby is now ready to be born. They may still have some lanugo – fine hair – on their body, but it has mostly disappeared by now. They are probably still covered in vernix, a white, creamy film that protects their skin from the amniotic fluid they are surrounded by in your uterus.

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 more closely since it could be a sign they are in distress.

Your body

You could go into labour at any time between now and 42 weeks. You might notice 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 overexert yourself, and make regular time to rest too.

Things to remember

Every labour is different. Some labours can be very slow, taking hours or days to progress into active labour. 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 or birth centre, if that your chosen place of birth. It’s a good idea to give your doctor or midwife a call when you think you are in labour.

Make sure you know how you will get to the hospital or birth centre 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.

Resources and support

Speak to your doctor, midwife or obstetrician if you have questions about your pregnancy.

Pregnancy, Birth and Baby also has more information on:

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

NEXT WEEK...YOUR PREGNANCY AT WEEK 39 — Learn about your pregnancy journey and what is happening to you and your baby.

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Last reviewed: August 2023

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