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    That little brain is doing big things.

    A developing fetus in the thirty-eighth week

    Your baby’s development

    All organs, full speed ahead!
    During Week 38, your baby is making final preparations for birth, as his systems and functions continue to develop:

    • He’s working out the final kinks of organ function.
    • His nervous system functions increase.
    • His brain helps him refine breathing, improve digestion, regulate his heart rate, and prepare for eating.
    • He has reached what will likely be his birth length.
    • He 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.
    A spicy wrap

    Your nutrition and health

    Don’t believe the hype: Spicy food won’t induce labor.
    Contrary to popular belief (aka, rumor), there is no scientific proof that spicy food induces labor. If you’ve eaten spicy foods throughout your pregnancy, there’s no reason to stop now. However, spicy foods introduced at this point might induce nothing more than heartburn.

    Spicy food might disrupt your sleep

    Spicy food, while perfectly safe if you’re pregnant, could be a contributing factor to any sleep issues you may be having. Food seasoned with garlic, chilies, cayenne, or other hot spices can cause nagging heartburn or indigestion. So if you love spicy food, go for it, but stick to breakfast or lunch, instead of dinner or evening snacks.
    The belly of a pregnant mom

    Things to think about now

    Is it really labor? Your doctor knows…
    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:

    Presentation: This describes the part of your baby’s body that is farthest down in your pelvis. Ideally, it’s the head.

    Station: This refers to how far your baby's head has moved into your pelvic cavity. Each station is 1 centimeter.

    High in your pelvic cavity, your baby is at -5 station.
    At 0 station, he’s midway through the pelvis and is engaged in your pelvis. For a first pregnancy, this is most commonly the position at the beginning of labor.
    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.

    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.

    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.

    You might experience some or all of these symptoms as labor begins:

    • Cervical changes, including effacement, softening, and dilation
    • Water breaking (though the percentage of women whose water breaks "on its own" is small)
    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea
    A pregnant woman and her partner looking at sonograms in a room for children

    What happens next week

    That little body gets antibodies.
    As he makes final preparations for birth, your baby gets antibodies from the placenta to protect him against illness. It’s almost time…