38. WOP

You are in the 38th week of pregnancy. This means that it could be any moment now. If your baby were born now, it would be completely viable. This is why many cesarean sections are performed during this time.

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about the 38th week and C-sections.

Important facts about the 38th week: What you should know

In the 38th week your baby is fully developed. This means that it can be ready at any moment. If not, that is not a big deal.

There is no need to put yourself under pressure. Your baby will tell you in time when he or she wants to come into the world.

Now you should have your hospital bag within reach. That way, you won’t have to worry about it when it suddenly goes off.

Many moms-to-be who are expecting their first baby are worried and may have some anxiety about the birth.

In this article you have learned how to best prepare yourself for the upcoming birth. However, the most important thing is to talk about your worries and fears. Your partner or your midwife will understand and support you.

Relax and give your body enough rest. Your worries and fears should not cloud the wonderful anticipation when you hold your baby in your arms for the first time.

Tip for fathers-to-be

Labor can start at any time now – which means you should always be ready to drive your wife to the hospital. So avoid alcohol to be able to drive your wife safely to the hospital.

Pregnancy symptoms in the 38th week and what you can do about them

Breast tenderness

Due to hormonal changes, your breasts begin to grow and prepare to supply the baby with breast milk. In the final phase of pregnancy, it is therefore common for a feeling of tightness to develop in the breasts.

Gentle massages help against tension and can relax the irritated breast tissue.


Pregnancy is just around the corner: no wonder you’re nervous. A thousand thoughts revolve around the birth, the time after, the time as a mother and much more.

Even if it’s more difficult than it sounds – give yourself as many breaks as possible and relax whenever you can. The rest is not only good for you, but also for your child.

Child movements

After wild weeks with lots of gentle kicks and punches, things have calmed down around the baby by now. This is quite normal, the baby is still doing well

The fetal movements begin around the 20th week of gestation and increase abruptly over the next 3 months. From the 33rd week they decrease and the baby becomes calmer in most cases.

This is what happens to you

Many expectant mothers have light discharge throughout the entire pregnancy. This can become somewhat stronger in the 38th week.

But why is that? The discharge often becomes heavier because your vaginal area is supplied with more blood. Noticeably heavy discharge can even herald labor in the 38th week of pregnancy.

Another sign of the impending birth in the 38th week: diarrhea. It is triggered by the contraction of the uterus. Real contractions

are also possible in the 38th week.

They resemble back pain, but are much stronger. The approaching due date can make you nervous, impatient, or anticipatory.

Also interesting:

Your large baby bump limits your mobility and can also cause sleep problems during pregnancy.

Other possible complaints in the 38th week of pregnancy: nausea, fatigue, a strong urge to urinate and possibly also itching on the abdomen. This occurs because your skin has stretched a lot recently.

The birth in the 38th week – what you should know about it

In the 38th week of pregnancy, the time may come at any moment. Especially if it is your first birth, you may be a little worried or concerned.

This is completely normal, after all, you don’t give birth every day. To ease your fears a little, we will explain the birth process to you in this section.

The 4 phases of birth

As individual as each pregnancy is, the duration of a birth is also different: for first-time mothers, a birth takes an average of 13 hours; with the second child, it often goes a little faster.

The birth process divided into 4 phases: The opening phase, the transition phase, the expulsion phase and the postpartum phase.

Opening phase

The opening phase announces itself to the pregnant woman with the so-called opening contractions, which initially come regularly at intervals of 20 to 30 minutes.

The opening phase is actually the longest phase in the birth process. It can last about 8 to 14 hours. With each subsequent birth, this phase usually shortens.

During the opening phase, the water often breaks. If the birth falters, midwives can help with the method of bubble bursting.

This involves opening the amniotic sac with a small instrument. At the end of the opening phase, contractions occur about every 2 minutes.

Transition phase

The transition phase is characterized by being short and particularly painful. At this time, contractions are usually experienced as very intense and painful.

At the end of this phase, the cervix is fully open at about 8 to 10 cm. It is now usually not long before the baby is born.

Expulsion phase

In this phase, your baby’s head has already moved deep into the entrance to the pelvis and is pressing very hard on the rectum. This triggers an enormous urge to push.

Strong pushing contractions occur every minute and last up to 90 seconds. With each additional contraction, the baby’s head is pushed a little further through your pelvis.

To actively support the birth process in the expulsion phase, you can take advantage of gravity and choose an appropriate birth position:

Standing, in a quadrupedal position or on a birthing stool will make it easier to push the baby down through your pelvis. After several contractions, your baby’s head will be visible from the outside.

Now you should listen carefully to your midwife’s instructions. If the baby’s head comes out through the vagina too quickly, it can cause a perineal tear.

Postpartum phase

You have made it! After the baby has been freed from mucus and the umbilical cord has been cut, you can finally hold your baby in your arms.

However, the birth process is not really finished until the fourth and final phase, the postpartum phase.

The so-called afterbirth is the placenta and the egg membranes that surrounded your baby during the last weeks of pregnancy.

With a few afterbirth contractions, the placenta slowly detaches from the uterine wall.

The midwife now checks whether the afterbirth has been completely expelled and no remnants have remained in the uterus.

What happens with the baby

In the 38th week of pregnancy, your baby is about 50 cm tall and weighs 3000 grams

. This makes it about the size of a honeydew melon.

How your baby develops in the 38th week of pregnancy

Babies who are born after the 38th week are no longer premature babies. Why is that? The development of babies born after the 37th week of gestation is already complete.

All vital organs are functioning. Therefore, if your baby is born in the 38th week of gestation, he or she would be called “born mature.

Your baby is slowly losing the lanugo hair. This is the fine fuzz that has covered his body since about the 4th month of your pregnancy.

A small part of it may still be visible on his shoulders, forehead and neck at birth.

Also, the cheesy gunk that protected the baby’s skin from the amniotic fluid is almost completely gone. By the 38th week, the liver has finished making blood for your baby.

The liver now makes up only about 5% of your baby’s body weight. For comparison: In the 2nd month of your pregnancy, it was about 10%.

Your baby’s immune system is also making progress in its development during the 38th week of pregnancy. In the lymph nodes, stem cells of white blood cells have developed from precursors.

The little body produces the hormone cortisol . This hormone ensures that your baby can breathe outside your belly.

If your baby wants to stay in your belly a little longer, this is completely safe.

This is important now

38. WOP: How to prepare for your birth

The thought of the upcoming birth can make one or the other expectant mommy worry. Will everything go well? Will I be in a lot of pain? It is completely normal that you are worried.

After all, you want your baby and you to be fine. Since it can happen at any moment during the 38th week of pregnancy, we have 3 tips for you on how you can best prepare for your birth.

Birth preparation course

The earlier you attend a childbirth class, the better it is. There you will learn methods to relax and the technique of “conscious” breathing. This is especially helpful when labor starts.

Many moms report afterwards that the exchange with other parents has helped them in particular. Here you can learn as much as possible about the birth process, birth positions or birth locations.


In the 38th week of pregnancy you should think about where you want to give birth to your baby. Most pregnant women decide on a clinic.

However, there are also alternatives. Have you ever heard of a birth center or a home birth? Ask your midwife for advice.

Hospital bag

Sometimes everything happens faster than you think and labor starts. We have put together a checklist for you of everything you need in your hospital bag.

Important documents

  • Hospital referral slip
  • Maternity passport
  • Health insurance card
  • Identity card
  • Allergy passport if required
  • Birth plan (optional)

For you

  • Bathrobe
  • Comfortable clothes
  • Slippers
  • Warm socks
  • Old nightgown or T-shirt for the birth
  • Wide underpants
  • or disposable panties
  • Nursing bras
  • Nursing pads
  • Snacks & drinks for refreshment

For the baby

  • Panties/ rompers
  • Shirts
  • Cotton cap
  • Diapers

Midwife Tip

The birth date is getting closer and closer and your nerves are tense? That is completely normal. Especially if it is your first birth, it is not surprising if you are worried.

During this time – when it could be any moment – pregnant women are often easily irritable, stressed and impatient. No wonder, after all, your body has been through a lot of work in the last few months.


38th WOP: When does it start?

In the 38th week of pregnancy, the time may come at any moment. You should have your clinic bag ready from now on.

What happens in the 38th WOP?

In the 38th week of pregnancy you may already go into labour.

How do contractions feel in the 38th WOP?

Contractions usually feel like severe abdominal pain.

How does the baby lie in the 38th WOP?

Your gynaecologist can tell you the position of your baby in the 38th week by ultrasound.

How many babies are born in the 38th WOP?

The majority of babies are born before their due date. Only about 3 to 4 % of babies are born on their due date.

Water retention in the 38th WOP – what to do?

Water retention in the 38th week of pregnancy can be relieved by walking or swimming.

38 WOP: What helps against abdominal pain with menstruation?

Sharp pains in the lower abdomen are often triggered by contractions and are nothing to worry about. If you are still worried – or if the pain gets worse – ask your midwife or gynaecologist for support.

38th WOP videos

Learn more from Nekole about what to expect in the 38th week of pregnancy.

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