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38 Weeks Pregnant


Image: Fetal Development At 38 Weeks

Although some babies don’t have any hair at all on their head even at birth, many little ones will have a full head of hair at this point – and it could be as long as 3.5cm.

Your little love will have shed most of her vernix caseosa, the whitish substance that has protected her skin. She will have been swallowing the shed pieces along with her lanugo, the downy hair that covers her for much of the pregnancy. When she is born this swallowed hair will be part of her first poo – a greenish/blackish substance known as meconium.

Your bump is now at its full size – hooray! Your baby continues to grow chubbier in preparation for the need to regulate her own temperature in the big wide world! Not long now.

From now on you’ll probably have an antenatal appointment every week. You may be able to tour your delivery suite before the birth and this is a great opportunity to get a feel for things before the big day. Ask your midwife about it because some delivery suites even arrange allotted tour times.

If you’re planning to give birth at home, your midwife will drop round a home birth pack around this time. If you’re unsure about what to pack in your hospital bag, have a look at our birth bag checklist.

Exciting times ahead! It may difficult to sleep with all the anticipation. Try to rest a lot and put your feet up. Also read our information on sleep in pregnancy to help you get as comfortable as possible. And ask your partner for a nice relaxing massage – you deserve it!

What will my newborn look like?
You’ve spent all this time waiting for your little bundle of joy to arrive and when she does she’ll look a bit strange! Newborn babies have short legs, large torsos, big heads and no necks. Because of their arduous journey through the birth canal, their heads are often even a bit pointy.

Your baby will have soft spots on her skull called fontanelles – these enable your baby’s head to compress enough to make it down the birth canal. They will take months to close – from about 4 months for the rear fontanelle to as long as 18 months for the front one. Also keep in mind your baby’s genitals are likely to be a bit swollen from the extra hormones pumped out just before birth.

Your little voyager’s face and eyes may look swollen as well. Her feet and hands will even be blue for her first few hours in the big wide world.

How will my little one’s skin be?
Depending on how many weeks pregnant you are when you give birth, your little one’s skin will vary.

Premature babies have thin skin, and may still be covered with lanugo, the downy hair that protects babies’ skin in the womb. They will also be covered with vernix, the whitish substance that protects the skin from amniotic fluid. On the other hand, vernix and lanugo will mostly be gone from full-term and late babies. Late babies are likely to be a bit wrinkly.

Many babies are born with birth marks and about 50% are born with milia, tiny white pimple-like dots on their faces. They disappear after a while.

What will my newborn’s hair look like?
Don’t assume that your newborn’s hair will look anything like yours! Keep in mind that both you and your partner are carrying genes from previous generations and these may show up in surprising ways. For example some brunette couples have been surprised to deliver a little one with bright ginger hair on birthing day.

Many couples worry if their baby is born without any hair. Thankfully there’s no need – baby should grow a healthy head of hair pretty quickly.

And the eyes?
Did you know that the colour of your baby’s eyes at birth won’t last? In fact within the first few minutes there’s a change due to light exposure. Then in the first few months there are changes too. Most Caucasian babies appear in the world with dark blue eyes and their eventual eye colour – brown, hazel, green or blue – may not appear for the first few months. Many babies of Asian or African origin have brown or dark grey eyes at birth, settling in to a true black or brown after about 6 months to a year.

Possible Scan at Week 38
The purpose of a Well-being Scan is to check that the baby is growing well and that the pregnancy is developing normally. You may want to have this scan if your baby has been moving less, if you have had unusual tummy pains, light bleeding or if you have had some kind of accident (for example on the road or in a fall).

A Wellbeing Scan is particularly important if you have had pregnancy complications or problems in a previous pregnancy. This scan is usually only offered by the NHS if there is a complication with the pregnancy.