Pregnancy Calendar: 38 Weeks Pregnant

How big is baby? Your little one has grown to be about 6.8 pounds (3.1 kg) and 19.5 inches (49.5 cm) from head to toe. He or she is about the length of a leek!

What’s new this week? While it is never a fun topic, becoming parents means you must discuss the potential for a life insurance policy. Get the breakdown below.

What’s next? Labor and delivery! Most physicians will not let you go one week past your due date. So you can safely say you will have your little one in your hands in less than four weeks!

One of the many things on your mind is protecting your baby—from getting the right life-sustaining nutrients to avoiding injury. But protecting your baby also extends to helping to prepare for his or her future, especially if something should happen to you. Read on to discover how to protect your baby now and should the unthinkable happen.

What’s happening with my baby?

Most important, all of baby’s organs have matured and he or she is ready to breathe in life outside the womb. Now it is just a waiting game to see when he or she is ready to make their debut.

What to Expect at the Hospital

When you arrive at the hospital several things will happen, and it may be overwhelming, especially if you are experiencing contractions or your water has broken. Here are several events you can expect:

  1. You will need to provide a urine sample: You’ve had plenty of practice with this! Get it over with and change into either the gown provided to you or one you bring from home.
  2. A nurse will check your vital signs: Expect someone to take your pulse, blood pressure and body temperature. He or she should confirm your due date, ask the frequency and duration of contractions, if your water has broken and if you experienced any vaginal bleeding.
  3. Your physician or midwife will review your medical chart and ask followup questions: Expect to answer questions about your pregnancy, previous pregnancies, complications and your pain level.
  4. A nurse will place two monitors around your belly that connect to an electronic fetal monitor: One is to keep track of the frequency and duration of your contractions. The other is to monitor baby’s heart rate. Your little one’s heart rate is important as it will alert your medical care team if there is any distress. Note: If you are delivering at a birthing center, your care provider will periodically listen to baby’s heartbeat with a Doppler and place hands on your belly to feel your contractions.
  5. Your physician will examine you: A member of the medical care team may perform a speculum test to confirm if your water has broken or not. Your physician will check your cervix for dilation and effacement. An ultrasound may be used to see your baby’s presenting part.

If you are not yet in labor or are in early labor and your baby seems to be tolerating contractions well, you may be sent home until your labor is further along. This is why it is important to communicate with your medical care team about when you should head to the hospital.

If your care provider feels you are far enough along in your laboring, you will be admitted.

If everything is progressing without issue, ask if you can hold off on an IV. This will allow you to move around more freely as you labor. (You may find some positions are more comfortable during contractions, and an IV can be limiting.) Keep in mind, if you choose to have an epidural, you will be confined to the bed for the rest of your labor.

Breech Presentation

At this point, baby certainly has a mind of his or her own, and in one in every 25 births, this means he or she is refusing to turn head down in preparation for birth. When baby’s feet or buttocks are the presenting part, it is referred to as breech presentation.

While most breech babies are born healthy, there is a heightened risk for complications. Some physicians will physically try to turn baby through manipulating the abdomen between 32 and 37 weeks of pregnancy. Methods for turning baby vary, so talk to your medical care team about what they recommend for your unique situation.

If your baby is presenting in breech position, there are circumstances in which you may still be able to deliver vaginally. However, it may be safest to deliver via Cesarean. It is important to keep in communication with your medical team so you can make the best decisions for you and baby. But remember, breech is an extremely common occurrence, and your doctors will work hard to deliver a healthy baby.

Tip: During labor, you may feel intense pain in your lower back. This is referred to as “back labor,” and is thought to be caused by baby’s boney head putting pressure against your spine and back. Some medical professionals also believe the uterus may “refer” pain to the back during labor. To help relieve this pain, get on all fours, as it may relieve some of that pressure.

Considering Life Insurance

Your finances are a personal matter, but with a baby in your life, you may want to open up to a trusted financial advisor or insurance provider. He or she will likely suggest checking into a life insurance policy, at least for the breadwinner in your home. Chances are, you will never need it, but if something should happen to you or your partner, and you lose income, it puts your family members—including your precious baby—at risk of losing your home and medical care, let alone a college fund. Here are the basics:

Term life insurance requires a smaller monthly fee (depending on age and health status) and pays a benefit (your chosen amount) in the event of the death of the insured during a specified term. Most policies are for 20- or 30-year “terms.” After this period, the policy expires and it will be much more expensive should you want a new term (because you will be much older at this point).

Whole life insurance requires a much larger monthly fee (hundreds of dollars a month) and pays a benefit on the death of the insured (guaranteed as long as premiums are paid) and also accumulates a cash value. The plan does not expire, and you may be able to borrow against your policy after a certain amount of time.

While life insurance is never a fun topic to be discussing, especially as you are anticipating the birth of your baby, it is certainly worth looking into. Take a day with your partner to cover topics like life insurance, wills and choosing a guardian for your child(ren).