At thirty-eight weeks your baby continues to master a strong grasp. Tiny toenails sit at the tops of little toes. Your baby’s brain weighs just under a pound and this growth continues after delivery. Your baby’s brain is maturing and will now aid in perfecting breathing, enhancing digestion, controlling and normalizing heart rate, and getting the baby ready for eating. Your baby’s organs will complete final maturation as nervous system abilities are enhanced; tiny complex systems and functions keep progressing as your baby prepares for birth. Lanugo is barely present on the skin.
Your baby could possibly weigh about 6½ pounds and has attained his or her final birth length.
Your baby could possibly pass meconium, a solid greenish-brown waste, in utero prior to delivery. Meconium-stained amniotic fluid (AF) occurs in about 13% of live deliveries. According to Medline Plus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH): “Meconium is the early feces (stool) passed by a newborn soon after birth, before the baby has started to digest breast milk (or formula). In some cases, the baby passes meconium while still inside the uterus. This usually happens when babies are ‘under stress’ because their supply of blood and oxygen decreases, often due to problems with the placenta.”
Risk factors that may cause stress on the baby before birth include:
Risk factors for this condition should be identified as early as possible. If the mother’s water broke at home, she should tell the health care provider whether the fluid was clear or stained with a greenish or brown substance.
Fetal monitoring is started so that any signs of fetal distress can be found early. Immediate intervention in the delivery room can sometimes help prevent this condition (meconium aspiration). Health care providers who are trained in newborn resuscitation should be present.”
If your water breaks or you notice a leakage which is greenish-brown in color, indicating the presence of meconium in your amniotic fluid, call your health care team immediately and go to L&D or the ER.