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Your Baby at Week 37
Baby’s Kicking and Moving
At 37 weeks pregnant, your baby’s lungs are likely mature — but that doesn’t mean he’s finished growing yet.
In fact, until the end of week 38 he’s technically considered “early term,” and he’s still packing on about a half an ounce per day or half a pound a week.
At this age, the average fetus weighs about six-and-a-half pounds — though boys are likely to be heavier at birth than girls.
And here’s a bit of baby boy trivia to back that one up: Moms carrying boys tend to eat more than those expecting girls (a foreshadowing of teenage refrigerator raids to come!).
That makes it a little crowded in your uterus, so he may not be kicking as much, though he’s probably stretching, rolling a bit and wiggling (all of which you’ll be able to feel!).
37 Weeks Pregnant Is How Many Months?
If you’re 37 weeks pregnant, you’re in month 9 of your pregnancy.
Only a few weeks left to go! Still have questions? Here’s some more information on how weeks, months and trimesters are broken down in pregnancy.
Practicing for Birth
So what’s keeping your little one busy while waiting it out until D-day? Practice, practice, practice.
Right now, your tiny superstar is rehearsing for his big debut, simulating breathing by inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid, sucking his thumb, blinking and pivoting from side to side (one day you feel his bottom on the left side, the next it has flipped around to the right).
Baby’s Head Is Huge!
Here’s an interesting fact: Your baby’s head (which, by the way, is still growing) will be at birth the same circumference as his chest.
And guess what’s making an impression (literally) these days on those shoulders and hips? Fat — causing little dimples in those cute elbows, knees and shoulders, along with creases and folds in the neck and wrists.
Your Body at Week 37
Dilation and Effacement
It’s anyone’s guess when your baby will decide to make his appearance (sociably early or fashionably late — or right on time?), but that doesn’t stop your practitioner from taking a shot at guessing when labor will begin.
Just what is your doctor looking for?
First, for dilation, or how far your cervix has opened (it needs to open to 10 centimeters for the baby to pass through into the birth canal) along with cervical ripeness (the consistency of the cervix — it starts out being firm like the tip of your nose and softens to the same texture as the inside of your cheek before labor).
Next he or she will check for effacement, or how thin your cervix is (it’ll be 100 percent effaced before you push your baby out).
The position of your cervix (it moves from the back to the front as labor approaches) will also be assessed.
And last but not least, your practitioner will measure the position of the baby in relation to your pelvis (the lower down your baby is, the closer you are to delivery).
Although it all sounds very scientific, it’s actually not.
These processes can occur gradually, over a period of weeks or even a month or more in some women — or overnight.
So while they’re clues that you’re indeed progressing, they’re far from sure bets when it comes to pinpointing the actual start of labor.
You can be very dilated and not have your baby for weeks.
Or your cervix can be high and closed during an exam one morning, only to be open and ready for business — and labor — by noon.
Anxiously waiting for the big day to arrive? Don’t just sit there — massage your perineum!
Say what? Trust us, there’s good reason for this piece of advice.
Perineal massage may help to gently stretch your perineum, the area of skin between your vagina and rectum, which in turn can minimize the “stinging” that occurs when a baby’s head crowns during childbirth.
It may also help you avoid an episiotomy and tearing. Here’s how to massage your way to a looser (and easier, if you’re lucky) delivery:
First make sure your hands (or your spouse’s, if he’ll be taking on the task) are clean and nails are trimmed.
Next, lubricate your thumbs and put them inside your vagina.
Press down toward your rectum and slide your thumbs across the bottom and sides of your perineum, pulling gently outward and forward on the lower part of the vagina with your thumbs hooked inside.
This helps stretch the skin in the same way your baby’s head will during birth.
You can do this daily until D-day, and you can even continue the good work — or have your practitioner take over — during labor itself!
At 37 weeks, your pregnancy is considered full-term.
The baby’s gut (digestive system) now contains meconium — the sticky, green substance that will form your baby’s first poo after birth.
It may include bits of the lanugo (fine hair) that covered your baby earlier in pregnancy.
If your baby does a poo during labour, which can sometimes happen, the amniotic fluid will contain meconium.
If this is the case, your midwife will want to monitor your baby closely as it could mean they are stressed.
In the last weeks, some time before birth, the baby’s head should move down into your pelvis.
When your baby’s head moves down like this, it is said to be ‘engaged’.
When this happens, you may notice that your bump seems to move down a little.
Sometimes the head doesn’t engage until labour starts.
The average baby weighs around 3-4kg by now.
The lanugo that covered your baby’s body is now almost all gone, although some babies may have small patches of it when they’re born. Due to the hormones in your body, the baby’s genitals may look swollen when they’re born, but they will soon settle down to their normal size.
Your baby is ready to be born, and you’ll be meeting them some time in the next couple of weeks.
When you are around 37 weeks pregnant, if it’s your first pregnancy you may feel more comfortable as your baby moves down ready to be born, although you will probably feel increased pressure in your lower abdomen.
If it’s not your first pregnancy, the baby may not move down until labour.
Most women will go into labour between 38 and 42 weeks of pregnancy. Your midwife or doctor should give you information about your options if you go beyond 41 weeks pregnant.
37 Weeks Pregnant: Your Baby’s Development
Your pregnancy is quickly coming to an end, but your little one still has a bit more growing to do.
This week, she’s probably gaining about a half an ounce each day, adding fat and plumping up before birth.
Keep in mind that, although she’s super close to her due date, she’s still considered to be in the “early term” stage at this point.
She won’t be considered “full term” until week 39.
In other developments, she has now shed most of the lanugo, the fine body hair that covered her little body while in your uterus.
She’s now able to make grasping motions with her fingers.
Plus, she may also respond to bright lights in the outside world by moving or turning toward the light.
If she hasn’t already, she may also be moving into a head-down position in preparation for labor.
Mom’s Body at 37 Weeks Pregnant
Are you wondering how many months along you are at 37 weeks pregnant?
Because pregnancy doesn’t divide neatly into months, it’s possible you’re either in month 9 or 10 at this point.
At 37 weeks pregnant, your cervix may be beginning to dilate.
When this starts to happen, you may lose the seal that protected your uterus from infection throughout your pregnancy.
This seal is known as the mucus plug. If, at 37 weeks pregnant, you notice some extra vaginal discharge that is clear, pinkish, or slightly bloody, this may be the mucus plug.
Seeing this mucus discharge is an indication that labor is starting or is not far off. Keep in mind, you can lose the mucus plug hours, days, or even weeks before labor begins.
Some moms-to-be don’t notice it at all.
At 37 weeks, if you do notice the mucus plug on your panties or on the toilet paper after you wipe, or if you are unsure if this means your labor has started, you may want to call your healthcare provider for advice on what to do next.
37 Weeks Pregnant: Your Symptoms
Pelvic pain or pressure.
Is your baby sitting lower in your pelvis these days? This dropping — also called lightening or engagement — can occur a few weeks before your baby is born, and you might notice it if you feel a little extra pressure on your lower abdomen.
This pelvic pain can even make it hard to walk.
If pelvic pressure is causing you discomfort, a warm bath may provide some relief.
Contact your healthcare provider for more advice on what to do to relieve pelvic or lower back pain.
Shortness of breath.
If your baby hasn’t dropped yet, she might be pressing up against your lungs, making breathing a little more difficult.
Try to rest more, move slowly, and sit or stand up straight to help give your lungs more room to expand with each breath.
Once your baby “drops” lower into your pelvis, this may take some pressure off your lungs and diaphragm, making it easier for you to breathe.
Some moms-to-be experience nausea around 37 weeks pregnant, and it could be a sign that labor is about to start.
Try to eat four or five smaller meals instead of three larger meals.
Bland foods like rice, toast, or bananas can also help get you through these bouts of nausea.
Snoring. This one might not trouble you as much as your partner
Most moms-to-be go through some breathing changes during pregnancy thanks to hormonal changes, and toward the end, some snoring is not uncommon as the mucus membranes in your nasal passages tend to dry out.
Make sure you’re staying hydrated, and use a humidifier in your bedroom if your partner starts to complain about your snoring.
Unstable on your feet.
By now, your pregnancy weight gain means your center of gravity has shifted, making it easier for you to lose your balance.
This extra weight from your baby, the placenta, amniotic fluid, and more can make it challenging to move around.
Once your baby drops lower into your pelvis, the distribution of your weight may even change again, so be extra careful whenever you’re on your feet!
To keep yourself steady, stand with your feet pointed in the same direction with your weight balanced evenly on both feet.
Try not to tilt your pelvis forward or backward, and avoid lifting or carrying heavy or bulky items.
At 37 weeks pregnant, you could start to feel contractions that you might recognize as being similar to menstrual cramping.
Contractions that are irregular and go away when you move or change positions are likely Braxton Hicks “practice” contractions.
But, if you feel contractions that occur regularly, get progressively stronger, and don’t subside if you move or change positions, you’ll want to call your healthcare provider for advice.