Your Weekly Pregnancy Development: Week 38

Your baby's brain is perfecting breathing and digestion

Get weekly pregnancy guidance in your inbox.
Join Similac StrongMoms®

 
Woman holding belly

Organ functions are nearly at full speed

Week 38: Your baby is making final preparations for birth

During Week 38, your baby's systems and functions continue to develop:

  • Your baby's organ functions work out the final kinks when you are 38 weeks pregnant.
  • His nervous system functions increase.
  • His brain helps him refine breathing, improve digestion, regulate his heart rate, and prepare for eating.
  • Your baby might pass solid waste, called meconium, prior to delivery. If your water breaks or leaks and it is greenish-brown in color, this might indicate meconium spotting in your amniotic fluid. Call your doctor right away if this happens.
  • He has reached what will likely be his birth length.
Breakfast burrito

Your Week 38 nutrition and health

Spicy food won’t induce labor

Contrary to popular belief, there is no scientific proof that spicy food can induce labor. If spicy foods have been part of your diet for the duration of your pregnancy, there is no reason to stop eating them now. However, if spicy foods are new to your diet, you might experience symptoms of heartburn rather than actual labor.

Spicy food might disrupt your sleep

Spicy food is perfectly safe for pregnant women. However, if you are having trouble sleeping, spicy food could be a contributing factor. Dishes seasoned with garlic, chilies, cayenne, or other hot spices can cause nagging heartburn or indigestion.

If you love spicy food and can’t do without it, try to limit these foods to breakfast or lunch, instead of dinner or evening snacks.

How your doctor knows labor is coming

While there is no perfect formula for determining when labor will start, your doctor can measure how close you are at your weekly appointments. These measurements and observations include:

  • Presenting or your baby's presentation: This describes the part of your baby's body that is farthest down in your pelvis. Ideally, this is your baby's head.
  • Station: This refers to how far your baby's head has moved into your pelvic cavity. Each station is 1 centimeter.
    • Your baby, high in your pelvic cavity, begins at -5 station.
    • Your baby at 0 station is midway through the pelvis and is engaged in your pelvis. Your baby probably will be at 0 station at the beginning of labor if this is your first pregnancy.
    • Once actual labor begins, your baby's head continues through the pelvis to +1, +2, and +3 stations.
    • At +5 station, your baby's head is crowning (appearing) during birth.
  • Dilated or dilation: This refers to how much your cervix has opened. It is measured in centimeters. Some women begin to dilate several weeks before labor. At 10 centimeters, you are ready to start pushing out your baby.
  • Effaced or effacement: This refers to how much your cervix has thinned in preparation for birth, and is often measured by percentage. If this is your first pregnancy, effacement usually begins before dilation. At 100% effaced, you are ready to deliver your baby.
Is it really labor?
You might experience some or all of these symptoms as labor begins:
  • Cervical changes, including thinning (effacement), softening, and opening (dilation) of the cervix
  • Water breaking (though the percentage of women whose water breaks "on its own" is small)
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea

Keep learning about your baby's development every week
 
Get nutrition guidance and feeding help delivered right to your inbox.
Join Similac® StrongMoms® now.
 


Your Similac StrongMoms membership is free, and includes:
  • Expert nutrition guidance for your pregnancy
  • Weekly updates on how your baby is developing and growing
  • Up to $329 in membership benefits
 
Offers may vary.
Get up to $329† in great offers. Sign up now >