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38 weeks pregnant



Your baby's development at 38 weeks

In week 38 of pregnancy, your baby weighs around 7lbs. Around now, most babies move lower into the abdomen, a process called ‘engagement’ or ‘lightening’, which means that labour probably isn’t too far away. Read our suggestions for healthy snacks for labour to include in your hospital bag. These snacks will provide a nutritious boost that will benefit both you and your baby when the time comes.

Breathing easier in week 38 of pregnancy

By the time you're 38 weeks pregnant, your baby, weighing somewhere in the region of 6¾lbs11, is now fully developed and ready for birth2. They may even have moved down further into your abdomen, a process known as engagement or lightening. This is sometimes visible with a noticeable lowering of your bump, although for some mums-to-be this only happens at the beginning of labour1.

"Your baby’s development at 38 weeks"

By this time your baby has already shed most of their lanugo, the soft downy hair that insulated them for most of pregnancy. Some babies are born with small patches of it that gradually disappear over the first few days and weeks1.

“At week 38, your baby may still have some small patches of downy lanugo on their body, but most of it has already disappeared.”

Another way your baby’s body is getting ready for life after birth is by producing more surfactant within their lungs. This substance stops the air sacs in the lungs from sticking together as they transition from taking in amniotic fluid to breathing air3.

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Snacks for labour: Think energy and nutrition

With your baby’s arrival imminent, week 38 is the time to get your hospital bag in order. As well as personal and practical items, it’s helpful to have a variety of nutritious snacks to choose from if you need an energy boost at any point during labour.

“Any snacks you don’t eat during labour will be welcome nourishment once your baby has arrived.”

You’re unlikely to want to eat a large amount, but a bite or two of a nutrient-rich snack can help to keep you going. Pack several different foods; you won’t know what you’ll feel like or can tolerate until the time comes.

Next Steps

Pack healthy, energy-giving snacks that will provide a boost during labour and support your body and baby as you transition to breastfeeding:

  • Bananas
  • Apricots, raisins and other dried fruit
  • Fresh fruit
  • Cereal bars
  • Oatcakes
  • A handful of nuts

Don’t forget to pack some drinks to stay well hydrated. Some women find sports drinks useful, or water or fruit juice in a sports-type bottle for easy drinking.

View references

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1. NHS UK. You and your baby at 37-40 weeks pregnant [Online]. 2015. Available at: [Accessed September 2016]

2. Deans A. Your New Pregnancy Bible, The experts’ guide to pregnancy and early parenthood. 4th ed. London: Carroll & Brown Publishers Limited, 2013. p. 49.

3. Murkoff H, Mazel S. What to Expect When You’re Expecting. 4th ed. London: Simon & Schuster Ltd, 2009. p. 337.

Last reviewed: 9th September 2016
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