When you are 38 weeks pregnant knowing the signs of labor is critical. At this point, you are full term and can go into labor at any minute. This is the time to get everything prepared and in order so that once labor starts, you can get to the hospital and get ready to give birth. You want to know about your body and where your baby is at when you are 38 weeks pregnant. You also want to know what your body does to tell you that your baby is on his or her way.
What to Know at 38 Weeks Pregnant
At this point in your pregnancy, your baby has mature organs and can live outside the womb. He or she is averaging 6.8 pounds and 19.5 inches in length. Your baby is ready to enter the world by this week.
You might notice that your feet and ankles are swollen and that you are going to the bathroom more often. Both of these are perfectly normal. Take advantage of this time to rest and spend time with your partner.
The Signs of Labor
Once labor starts, you will know because there are signs that you cannot ignore. The following six signs occur when labor starts:
- Lightening: During this sign, your baby drops and gets deeper into the pelvis. You will notice that any shortness of breath is less prominent since some of the pressure on the diaphragm is alleviated. However, you might need more frequent bathroom trips due to more pressure on the bladder.
- Mucus plug loss: This is often referred to as the bloody show and once you experience it, you will know why. At the cervical opening, there is a thick mucus plug and this breaks free and comes out of the vagina. This indicates that the cervix is relaxing and thinning so that your baby can be delivered. The mucus plug is like a cork to put it simply.
- Rupture of membranes: This is also referred to as your water breaking. For some women, this is more of a leak, while for others it is like a gushing of fluid. The fluid is amniotic fluid and it is odorless. When this happens, contact your doctor.
- Nesting: Some women get a burst of energy shortly before delivery and this is called nesting. You will get busy preparing for your baby.
- Effacement: This sign indicates that your cervix is starting to thin and stretch. Your cervix is getting ready for your baby to be delivered since the thinner the cervix, the easier the dilation.
- Dilation: This means that your cervix is starting to open. Once you get to 10 centimeters, it is time to start pushing and deliver your baby.
Of course, those dreaded contractions also start to occur when you are in labor. Contractions get more intense the closer you are to delivering your baby. You know you are in labor when your contractions meet the following criteria:
- They are regular
- They get progressively closer
- They get progressively stronger
- You feel them in your back and then to the front or the other way around
- They get progressively longer
- They are on a predictable pattern
Once you are 38 weeks pregnant, the signs of labor are what you want to make sure that you know. This is the time to get prepared to have your baby and tackle the labor and delivery process. Make sure that your doctor is ready for you and that you have everything you need to bring to the hospital. If you are using a birth plan, it should be finalized by this time.