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Pregnancy Week 38

Fetal Development at week 38

Your Baby

Your baby’s intestines are accumulating considerable meconium, a dark-green mass of used cells and waste product from the baby’s liver, pancreas, and gall bladder. The meconium in your baby’s intestines will be eliminated shortly after birth, but it sometimes can be eliminated before, if the birth is delayed too long. In the latter case, fecal material will be present at birth in the amniotic fluid.

By today, the baby’s toenails have reached the end of the toes. After the baby is born, you may need to trim its fingernails and toenails. As a point of interest, the fingernails and toenails actually begin to form on the palm of the hand and sole of the foot and then migrate to their final positions at the end of each digit.

In about another week, your baby’s foot will be slightly longer than the length of his thigh. Take a look at your own thigh to see how big that is relative to the size of your feet. Such odd proportions will change somewhat after birth.

As you might expect, the baby’s limbs are bent and drawn close to its body and her grasp is firm. Because of the space limitations in the uterus now, the movements of your baby are quite restricted.

Within the next three days, the circumference of your baby’s head will roughly match the circumference of its shoulders and its hips. After this time, the abdomen may be greater than the head.

At this point in development, the average baby weighs about 6 1/3 pounds (2,900 g) and measures almost 13½ inches (340 mm).


By the end of pregnancy, the smooth muscle cells of the vagina are enlarged and the supportive connective tissues are reduced. Thus, the vaginal walls have become sufficiently relaxed to permit the passage of the baby during birth.