37 weeks to 40 weeks into your pregnancy, the baby you are carrying is considered to be full term. If you are a 38 weeks pregnant woman, your baby’s lungs, which are usually the last organs to develop, are probably functioning just fine and if you give birth at this time your baby may not need any assistance to breathe unless there are other complications. You expect labor anytime from now and therefore you should prepare well for it.
Pregnant women normally receive a lot of false alarms when they are 38 weeks pregnant. Severe contractions are experienced but these are not necessarily signs of labor. Many therefore wonder how they can tell when they are experiencing true labor. Though there are several false contractions at this stage, labor is usually not far away. Your cervix will be preparing for the delivery and as a result you might notice virginal discharge that is either clear or white and could sometimes consist of a little blood.
Research has shown that you can divide the stages of labor into three; the latent phase, active phase and the transitional phase. During the first phase of labor you will experience manageable contractions that might not last very long. This phase may last for a few hours and sometimes even a number of days. During this phase you could still be able to go on with your daily routine since the contractions are not so close together. You should keep track of the number of contractions you are experiencing every hour and when you note that they are close together and more intense, call your midwife. This is a sign that you have entered the second phase of labor.
Though more intense, the second phase of labor does not last as long as the first phase. In a matter of hours you will be through with this phase. The contractions however may occur after every five minutes and may last up to 30 seconds or even more. At some point in this phase the contractions will become more regular and this is probably the right time to head to the hospital. It is also during this phase that your water may break and in some cases the doctor breaks it herself to speed up the process. The cervix at this point may have dilated to about seven centimeters.
The contractions continue to intensify and last even longer during the last phase. You are almost ready to push the baby at this stage but the actual urge to push will come sometime towards the end of this phase. Soon your cervix opens fully and you can now push and deliver the baby. If you are one of the worried 38 weeks pregnant women out there, you now have a more vivid idea of how labor will feel like and can brace yourself well for this last stage of your pregnancy.