Guide to Being 38 Weeks Pregnant

What You Might Be Feeling
By now, you're probably counting the hours until the ball gets rolling.
By now, you're probably counting the hours until the ball gets rolling.

These final, "short" weeks can feel anything but. With all that extra weight you're carrying around and the heartburn, swelling and back pain that can make it hard to stand for more than a few minutes, you may be counting the hours until you feel that first contraction.

Of course, there's no way to know (unless you're being induced), and that first contraction may turn out to be "false labor," or a Braxton-Hicks contraction. And in addition to that painless, short-lived tightening of your uterus, you may also be experiencing:

  • Anxiety and/or excitement -- Your emotions may be all over the place now, and you're probably in full-on, get-everything-done "nesting" mode with motherhood so near.
  • Difficulty sleeping -- If it's not excitement and nervousness keeping you up, it's hip pain, heartburn and the need to pee six times a night.
  • Back and joint pain -- Loosened joints and a heavy load in front can make discomfort a whole-body experience.
  • Heartburn -- It might be worse than ever in these final weeks, so keep some antacid nearby at all times.
  • Swollen feet and/or ankles -- Keep your feet elevated as much as possible throughout the day to minimize fluid buildup.
  • Larger, possibly leaky breasts -- Your boobs might still be growing, and they might now be leaking colostrum, which, if you breastfeed, will nourish your baby for a few days before your milk comes in.
  • Real signs of labor -- It could happen any minute now, so be on the lookout for symptoms like diarrhea, crampiness, rhythmic and uncomfortable contractions, and bloody vaginal discharge. (Contrary to Hollywood portrayal, your water will probably break after labor begins, not before.)

Just because you have some signs of labor doesn't mean it's time to push. It just means it'll be soon -- perhaps hours, perhaps days. And if you do start feeling contractions, don't worry that you still have two weeks till your due date: Your baby is ready to go …