Your baby is nearly considered ‘full term’, although any extra time spent in the womb now will still be valuable allowing your baby to put on more weight and your baby will continue to receive useful antibodies through the umbilical cord. At thirty eight weeks, your baby is now just over 50cm in length and is weighing in at just over 3kg. The organs are now all fully functioning with the exception of the digestive system which still has some maturing to do in the months after labor in order to be able to digest solid foods. The only development that has not occurred is the complete pigmentation of the eyes, but this may not happen until a couple of weeks after birth. Babies may be born with dark eyes or they may be born with paler eyes, even blue, which can turn to gray and from gray to green or brown in the first six to nine months of your little one’s life.
Your baby is fast shedding the waxy covering, that used to protect your baby’s thin skin from the amniotic fluid, and lanugo, the fine hairs that insulated your baby’s body temperature within the first few months (before fatty deposits took on this role). But there may be some traces of both of these on your baby at birth. Some of this discarded vernix and lanugo actually ends up in your baby’s intestines, along with dead skin cells and waste products from you little one’s organs.. This is because these substances end up in the amniotic fluids that surrounds your baby, and that your baby is swallowing in order to practice processing matter through his or her digestive system. The matter then becomes part of the strange tar like meconium, which you may see in your newborn’s first nappy change!
Do not be alarmed by unexpected, bolt- like sensations running down your spine or legs, this is because of your baby sitting so low on your pelvis and putting pressure on nerves that have never experienced pressure before, resulting in sensations you have never experienced before! You may also experience some nipple leakage, colostrum leaking out of the aureole, so it might be wise to invest in some padded bras, if you have not done so already. These will come in handy if you intend to breastfeed.
You are likely to be feeling very anxious and excited about meeting your little one face to face for the first time! There are only a few more weeks of discomfort left, and so it is very important that you continue to do what’s best for the baby, consuming iron rich foods and making sure you get plenty of vitamins and nutrients, resting wherever possible and continuing to keep your fluids up despite the irritating reoccurring need to visit the ladies room! If you have been attending birth classes or parenthood classes you will have met other mothers feeling exactly the same as you are. Sharing experiences, anxieties and fears as well as your excitement is healthy. If you have not got this support network it is important to talk to your partner and your family so that you do not feel overwhelmed.
If you have any symptoms that concern you it is important to consult your doctor as soon as you can.