Skip to main content
First trimester weeks

Congrats! During the first trimester, you’re getting used to the idea of being pregnant.

Second trimester weeks

As you enter this second trimester, your body will settle down to pregnancy.

Third trimester weeks

You've reached the third and final trimester and will be heavily pregnant by now.

Week 39 of Pregnancy

Time may feel as though it's standing still and every small twinge has you on the alert.
Know the signs that mean labor is really about to start. You may have some false alarms, so don't hesitate to call your doctor for advice and reassurance. Excitement will be competing with nerves-and that goes for your partner as well. No one can predict how labor is going to turn out, but before the big day it's helpful to agree on what your partner's role should ideally be.

38 Weeks, 5 Days

9 days to go...

baby size at 38 weeks pregnant 5 days

Your baby today

In many ways you will be the best judge of the likely size of your baby, especially if you can compare it with a previous pregnancy. An ultrasound scan can estimate the weight, but as with all other measurements at this time it has a fairly wide margin of error.
Don't just wait for contractions-it's worth familiarizing yourself now with the signs that may mean labor is imminent.

When does labor actually start? If it's your first pregnancy, it can be difficult to recognize the signs that the baby is on his way. Some women get lower back pain that is minor before becoming painful. You might notice a bloody show (see The "bloody show"), which can happen well before true labor actually starts. Your water may break as the sac containing the amniotic fluid bursts open. Even if your water breaking is not accompanied by contractions you should still inform your doctor of what is happening.

Finally, the most obvious sign is contractions: these painful tightenings of your uterus will increase in intensity and become more regular as labor progresses. Contractions are associated with the dilation and shortening of your cervix, so your doctor will examine you to see how far you've progressed (see Abdominal and vaginal examinations).

If you think that you have gone into labor, stay calm and telephone your doctor and listen to her advice. Inform her of your symptoms and, especially, describe your contractions. If you are having contractions every 5 minutes that last for one minute (time them), and they're so uncomfortable that you're forced to stop what you're doing, you should think about going to hospital.

Fetal monitoring

If there are no complications or reasons for concern, your baby's heartbeat will usually be monitored using a handheld device much like the one used during your prenatal appointments. You may be hooked up throughout the entire labor and birth, or your doctor may listen to your baby's heartbeat every 15 to 30 minutes, which means that you can move around as much as you like in between these checks.

If you've had complications in pregnancy, or problems develop during labor, the doctor may monitor the heartbeat using a CTG (see Monitoring During Labor).

fetal heartbeat monitoring

Ask A... Doctor

How long am I likely to stay in hospital after the birth?

In most maternity units, there's a degree of flexibility as to how long you remain in hospital. If you want to stay for as brief a period as possible, talk to your doctor. It depends on many variables, but federal law says insurance companies can't force you to check out before 48 hours for a vaginal delivery, or 96 hours for a cesarean. It is recommended that a healthy newborn stay in the hospital for at least 48 hours. How long you stay in hospital will largely depend on your type of delivery. If you have a vaginal birth, you should be able to go home after six hours, but a cesarean may mean you need to stay in for about three days. If your baby is born early, is unwell, or is struggling to feed or maintain his temperature, you'll be advised to stay in the hospital. If your baby has to remain in the hospital for a long period, you would have to go home and visit him in the neonatal intensive care unit (see Neonatal Intensive Care Babies).

38 Weeks, 5 Days

9 days to go...

Join the Family

Your partner in parenting from baby name inspiration to college planning.