Sorry it’s late…
Week Thirty Eight: Development is complete
You are 38 weeks pregnant. (fetal age 36 weeks)
- Baby is about 20 inches (51 cm) and weighs about 7.5 pounds (3.4 kilograms).
- The soft down, which covered the body throughout the pregnancy, is now disappearing.
- The body fat is continuing to build up, baby putting on about 1oz (28 grams) a day.
- The wrinkled skin is becoming ‘baby’ smooth.
- The baby may have reached its final birth position.
- Most babies are born head first with only about 3 percent coming out feet first.
- About one in eight births are caesarean.
Development is complete, baby’s main job is to gain weight. The body continues laying on the fat stores at a rate of about an ounce (28 grams) a day, that will help regulate his or her body temperature after birth. The amniotic fluid, this is approximately equal to 4 or 5 cups. It doesn’t sound like much, but just wait until your water breaks, it will feel like much more.
Baby may have a full head of hair now, an inch or more long, but some babies are born with only peach fuzz. Speaking of hair, most of the downy coat of lanugo that covered your baby for weeks has disappeared, but you may see some on the upper back and shoulders when he or she arrives. Almost gone has most of the vernix caseosa, the whitish substance that also covered baby.
Your baby will swallow the lanugo and exterior coating, along with other secretions, and store them in their bowels. These will become your infant’s first bowel movement, a blackish waste called meconium. Your child’s intestines are accumulating lots of meconium. About 30% of babies move their bowels before birth. Usually this is a sign that the baby is under some stress and can cause pneumonia if the baby inhales any amniotic fluid with meconium in it. If there are signs of meconium in the amniotic fluid at birth your care provider will make sure that the baby’s throat and lungs are suctioned thoroughly.
This week, your baby weighs around seven and a half pounds and measures about 20 inches (51cm) head to toe. You are almost at the end of your pregnancy. Your weight should not increase much from this point. It should remain between 25 and 35 pounds (11.5 and 15.5 kg) until delivery.
Your baby’s lungs are now producing large amounts of the hormone cortisol, which helps to produce surfactant, the substance that stops the lungs from sticking together. This will help ensure your baby’s transition from breathing amniotic fluid to breathing air once she’s born is as seamless as possible, but it may take a few hours until her breathing pattern is completely normal.
Her fat stores are continuing to build up, enabling her to regulate her body temperature. And while she may still have some vernix on the surface of her skin when she’s born, it will mainly be in creases and crevices of the skin.
Your baby has really plumped up. She weighs about 6.8 pounds and she’s over 19 1/2 inches long (like a leek). She has a firm grasp, which you’ll soon be able to test when you hold her hand for the first time! Her organs have matured and are ready for life outside the womb.
Wondering what color your baby’s eyes will be? You may not be able to tell right away. If she’s born with brown eyes, they’ll likely stay brown. If she’s born with steel gray or dark blue eyes, they may stay gray or blue or turn green, hazel, or brown by the time she’s 9 months old. That’s because a child’s irises (the colored part of the eye) may gain more pigment in the months after she’s born, but they usually won’t get “lighter” or more blue. (Green, hazel, and brown eyes have more pigment than gray or blue eyes.)
Baby’s now the size of a watermelon!
The last bits of vernix caseosa (the white goo keeping baby’s skin moist) and lanugo (downy hair) are slowly shedding into your amniotic fluid. Baby’s head is about the same circumference as her abdomen, and her head could be covered in an inch or so of hair.