You’re almost there!!!! At 38 weeks pregnant, cramping can be a very normal thing. Your body is preparing to give birth to your little one and there are a whole new range of symptoms you will be feeling over the next few days to weeks. Severe cramping could signal that something may be amiss, but complications at this point are rare. Read this helpful guide to how you may be feeling as you get ready for the big day.

Normal 38 Weeks Pregnant Cramping

Cramping at this stage can be quite a normal thing for most women. Your baby is dropping into position for birth very low in the pelvic area and this may cause some cramping. You may even start having longer, stronger Braxton-Hicks contractions in the coming days to weeks. These can come with cramping that is milder than labor pains and may go away if you walk around a little.

  • Lightening of your baby is when the baby drops into the lower abdomen and deep into your pelvic cavity. This can happen anywhere from 37 to 40 weeks. Other signs are your trips to the bathroom increase and you can breathe easier.
  • Cervical ripening – Cramping at 38 weeks pregnant may mean that your cervix is beginning to soften and ripen to get ready for labor. It will get shorter in length, effacing from 0% (no change) to 100% where your cervix is all the way thinned out or at its shortest length.
  • Dilation – Cramping may help you start to dilate. Some women dilated to 1 or 2 centimeters prior to going into labor. A centimeter must dilate 10 cm in order to deliver the baby.  

Abnormal 38 Weeks Pregnant Cramping

Abnormal cramping can be caused by a few different things. First, dehydration can cause cramping and contractions. This is easily remedied with fluids either intravenously or if your doctor gives the okay you can increase fluids at home. Second, Placenta Abruption and Placenta Previa which are medical emergencies need to be treated in the hospital. These are rare complications but are good to be aware of. Here is a brief explanation of each:

  • Dehydration – Not drinking enough fluids later in your pregnancy can irritate the uterus and cause cramping and contractions. If you don’t replace needed fluids, you could actually start true labor. Make sure you are drinking enough fluids.
  • Placenta Previa – This is a low lying placenta that is too close or even covers the opening to your uterus. It is common in women who smoke or mothers that had C-sections in the past. It can cause cramping and bleeding just prior to delivery.
  • Placental Abruption – At 38 weeks pregnant cramping that comes on suddenly with bleeding may be a sign of placental abruption. This is a medical emergency and can cause death in both mother and baby. It is very rare, occurring in only 0.3 to 1 percent of all pregnancies and mostly affects mothers that have: age over 35, amphetamine use, alcohol use, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, and excessive amniotic fluid. If you have severe cramping with bleeding, call 911 right away or get to an emergency room.

What to Do About Cramping at 38 Weeks

If you have cramping and are 38 weeks pregnant, chances are your body is just getting ready to go into labor. There are a few things to watch for:

  • Nesting instinct kicks in – You may feel a burst of energy and feel the need to get things ready around the house. Your house may get a total cleaning and all your “to-do” lists get taken care of. Even though you feel this, continue to get as much rest as you can.
  • Loss of mucous plug –During pregnancy, there is a plug that seals off the uterus to prevent infection from getting in. In the last weeks of pregnancy, this plug is released prior to labor.

If you have the above symptoms and have checked with your doctor, here are a few things you can do to relieve 38 weeks pregnant cramping:

What to Do


Play soft music and rest

You may be overwhelmed and overtired. Put on some soft relaxing music and rest your body to get ready for labor to begin. Sometimes rest can alleviate cramping if you are not in “true labor” yet.

Increase fluid intake

You may be a little low on fluids. Increase your intake of teas, juices, and even electrolyte replacement drinks. Try to stay on the low sugar side and add a squeeze of lemon to your tea for taste.

Practice your breathing

There couldn’t be a better time for practicing your breathing that you learned in childbirth classes. Take slow deep breaths and breathe them out through pursed lips. You can also practice panting taking about 30 breaths a minute. This will increase oxygen to your blood and help relieve the pain.

Hop in the shower

Try taking a warm shower to help relax your muscles. Avoid baths if you have lost your mucous plug or may be leaking amniotic fluid.

Experiences of Other Moms

“I was about 38 weeks pregnant when I started to have really bad cramps. I felt really thirst and increased my water intake. I was also overdoing things, so I gave myself a day to rest and recover. The cramps got better and I went into labor around 39.5 weeks.”--Jane

“At 38 weeks pregnant cramping was a horrible experience for me. I called my doctor and was told this is normal because the cervix is effacing and getting ready for labor. I took some Tylenol and drank extra fluids. It helped. My labor started at the end of my 38th week.” --Samantha

Watch the following video to learn what one mom has experienced and what the doctor says: