At 37 weeks you're so close to the finish line!
Here at Kidadl, we know that in these last few days and weeks of your pregnancy, and as you look forward to those first few weeks of new parenthood, there's a lot to think about and prepare for. Signs of labor approaching, all the incredible changes happening to your body, and of course, the development of that little person growing inside you!
So whether you're looking for help with 2-week-old baby milestones or 3-week-old baby milestones, Kidadl is here to help, with lots of articles packed full of all the support and advice you need at every stage of your parenting journey.
And since you're now 37 weeks pregnant, this post will tell you all the key things you need to know, including the big changes in your body, your baby's final development, and the things you can do to prepare your mind and body for a healthy and happy birth.
What Happens To Your Baby In The 37th Week?
Although you won't be officially classified as full-term until week 38, you're now tantalizingly close! Your baby is now nearly entirely developed, with organs like the lungs already mature. But even though their physical development is nearly complete, they haven't finished growing! He or she will continue to gain weight at a rate of around half an ounce per day and by week 37, will already weigh on average 6.5 lb. On average, boys tend to weigh more than girls, and did you know that those carrying boys also tend to eat more too?
And the longer baby stays in there, the bigger and heavier they will get, so bear that in mind if you end up overdue. With that weight, your little one is also gaining lots of fat, to keep them warm and protected outside of the womb, and it also gives them those super cute squishy folds and dimples.
Your baby will also be practicing all the key movements they'll be using when they finally make their grand entrance, from sucking their thumb and swallowing in preparation for feeding, to blinking and turning from side to side, as they get ready to explore the outside world. They'll also be grasping anything they can (like their toes, other fingers, and even their nose!) so they can get a firm grip on mom when they finally meet you for the first time.
What Position Should The Baby Be In?
Hopefully your baby is now in the head-down position, ready for delivery. The general rule of thumb is the lower your baby's head sits in your pelvis, the closer you are to the big day! The lower baby is, the more uncomfortable you're likely to feel, especially when walking, so try to take it easy and get regular rest.
If your baby has previously been happily lying in the breech position, you may find that they've now moved head down ready for birth, as most breech babies will naturally turn by about 36 to 37 weeks. However, some babies do remain in the breech position: it's totally normal and nothing to worry about. Your next steps will depend on whether this is your first baby, your wishes, and the advice of your midwife or doctor. You may be referred for a scan to check baby's position or asked if you would like your healthcare professional to use a special technique to try and turn the baby into the correct position. You may be able to proceed with a vaginal birth if baby remains in a breech position, or it may be recommended that you have a Cesarean birth instead. Whatever happens, be sure to clearly communicate your preferences, ask questions and have your birth partner or a trusted chaperone with you at appointments for support, if required.
Contractions And Pains
By 37 weeks into your pregnancy, you're very likely to start experiencing contractions, cramps, and pains. You may have already started experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions as early as your second trimester, so you might now find them starting to increase in frequency and strength as you near the end of your pregnancy. Feeling something like period pain, these types of contractions should happen fairly infrequently, be more uncomfortable than overtly painful and ease when you change position or take a warm bath. If your contractions are getting longer, stronger, more regular, and more painful, the chances are that they are labor pains, so do pay attention to any differences in the type of contractions, particularly stronger ones. But remember that not all women experience, or feel, Braxton Hicks contractions, and there's nothing to worry about if you're one of the lucky ones!
As well as contractions, you may feel some pain in your lower back and pelvis as your baby's head presses down and creates pressure in your hips, lower back, bladder and pelvis. You can use special cushions in bed, or a sling when walking, to help support your bump and relieve that pelvic pressure.
Another unexpected sign that labor might be near is an increase in bowel movements. If you find that you are pooping a lot and have a regular urge to go to the toilet, this could be a sign of labor coming soon. However, this is based on anecdotal evidence so is not something to heed too much attention to.
At 37 weeks, you may experience painful heartburn or indigestion, leg cramps, and insomnia as your body prepares for birth and your baby gets bigger and stronger. You might also start to notice changes in your breasts as they prepare to nurse your newborn, varicose veins, and stretch marks across your belly, breasts, and even bottom and thighs. Whilst many stretch marks fade or disappear over time, some will remain. You can rub thick body butters or soothing oils into the skin to keep it supple and help to reduce the appearance of stretch marks if required.
You might not be able to see it, but the other important changes in the days and weeks before delivery are happening in your cervix. Your cervix will move forward and start to dilate (remember it has to open up all the way to 10 cm before your baby is born!) It will also become what's commonly called 'ripe'. All this means is that the texture of the cervix will soften, to allow your little one to move through the birth canal. Your cervix will also efface, or become thinner, it will be 100% effaced by delivery.
What Should I Be Doing To Prepare For Birth?
At this point in your pregnancy, it's a good idea to read up on, and look out for, early signs of labor to help you get prepared. The mucus plug in pregnancy is a small mass of mucus that sits at the top of the cervix, blocking the entrance to the uterus and protecting it, stopping anything from getting inside and harming your baby. So when the mucus plug dislodges and falls out, commonly called a 'bloody show', it means your body is preparing for delivery! Other signs of early labor could include diarrhea, nausea, contractions like period pains, and your waters breaking.
As well as getting prepared for signs labor is near, there are lots of other things to prepare for! If you haven't already, make sure your hospital bag is packed, finish decorating baby's nursery or buy any urgent items that are still left on your shopping list. You can also start to buy non-perishable food and drink to take with you to the hospital to keep you and your birth partner going through the labor, like energy drinks or cereal bars.
If you're not already sleeping on your side, make sure to as this position is much safer for you and your little one. And with the help of a support pillow, it's likely to be much more comfortable too!
At this stage in your pregnancy, you might also like to do some gentle stretches and squats, to prepare your body for delivery. Pregnancy yoga, long walks, and gently bouncing on a gym ball can also really aid your flexibility and help to relieve pain and pressure.
If you're feeling nervous, don't forget to speak to your midwife or doctor, reach out to friends or family, visit the hospital or do some extra research; whatever you need to put your mind at ease.
If this is not your first child, you might have already started talking to your child about their impending sibling! There are some great books for kids about welcoming a new child into the family and being a great big brother or sister. You might even like to consider buying a small token gift from the baby to help create a bond with your first child.
And most importantly, make sure to take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest, sleep when you can, eat healthily, stay hydrated, take long bubble baths and enjoy some fresh air. At this point in your pregnancy, the best thing you can do to prepare for birth is to spend your days staying calm and healthy.
If you found this article helpful, then why not take a look at our articles about [5-week-old baby milestones] or 6-week-old baby milestones too?
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