Welcome To Week 37 of Your Pregnancy!
This week your baby is the size of a winter melon.
Final Countdown is on!
Baby has reached full height—somewhere between 19-21 inches (48.3-53.3 centimeters). Weight is about 6.5 pounds (2.9 kilograms) and is still gaining at half an ounce per day.
Although it is unclear what triggers labor, when your body is ready, Baby will be too. Baby is certainly big enough at this stage. Babys little heart is beating at 120 to 160 beats per minute (bpm)—much faster than yours— and it is ready to supply his body with the blood and oxygen he needs when he reaches the other side.
Baby’s lungs are prepared for their first breath and her adrenal glands are ready to produce the cortisol needed to create the surfactant the lungs need to breath oxygen instead of amniotic fluid.
Baby’s immune system is revving to go, but keep in mind that breastfeeding can help pump your little one full of those necessary antibodies to fight infection. Whether you choose to breastfeed or not, only time will allow his immune system to fully mature. Nearly all of the downy hair, or lanugo, has disappeared from his skin, but she may have head hair.1 Some babies have as much as .5 to 1.5 inches (1.3-3.8 centimeters)of hair. The color of your baby’s hair may surprise you, but keep in mind, if you are blonde and he is dark-haired, it does not mean that it will not change over time.
Practice Makes Perfect
Your baby now spends approximately 30 percent of the time in quiet sleep and 60 percent of the time in active sleep, when eye and body movements occur. Although only 10 percent of time is spent awake with limbs moving continually, it is an important stitch of time. During awake hours, she is practicing crucial skills for delivery day such as sucking, swallowing, gripping and blinking.
You may not feel the intense movement that you did previously because space is at a premium, but you should be feeling continued activity everyday. Usually it consists of kicking or pushing, but sometimes you may feel the regular twitch of hiccups, which are an involuntary sudden contraction of the baby’s diaphragm. It is unknown why babies get hiccups, but it is known that although the movements are large, there is no sound as there is no air in the womb. It is a wonderful time to feel baby move within your belly, but if you should feel a sudden decrease in activity, contact your practitioner immediately. If it makes you feel more at ease, count your little one’s kicks (any movement will suffice as a kick) according to your doctor’s directions. Some caregivers do not require patients to count Baby’s kicks.
Lets talk about what is happening with you this week:
You Made It
Congratulations, you have made it to full term! Don’t be so quick to push Baby out just yet. In the next three weeks, your little winter squash will still be developing important skills to use in the real world as well as adding some finishing touches. If you are planning a Cesarean Section, your doctor will probably advise you to wait until at least the 39th week to ensure that your little one has everything he or she needs to make it in the world.
Symptoms are not letting up yet, but keep the end in sight. You are almost there. The skin on your belly is getting increasingly more taut, possibly leading to stretch marks. If you already have some, you can expect to get more before Baby arrives. Slight spotting is a normal occurrence as well, but if you feel that it has become heavier or if you are uncomfortable with it in any way, do not hesitate to call your doctor.Your caregiver is there to help you. The usual abdominal pressure remains during this time. Has your baby dropped yet? If so, expect some aches and pains from your lower pelvic area.
As your womb reaches its highest point, your breasts are probably becoming even larger (perhaps you did not think it was possible). They are producing colostrum, a substance rich in nutrients and antibodies. The breast milk that follows is nutritionally balanced and will help protect your baby against infection as well as build his or her immune system. It is perfectly natural to feel a bit anxious with all of these bodily changes and the upcoming labor. Many women struggle with feelings of anxiety, physical exhaustion, and a general sense of feeling down in the last 6 weeks or so of pregnancy. Get plenty of sleep since exhaustion can lead to emotional ups and downs. Remain open with your feelings and express your concerns to your partner, friends and practitioner. The growing anxiety can also lead to intense and bizarre dreams. This is common as well.
What’s Your Sign (of Labor)
At your upcoming weekly check up, your practitioner will observe your progress by taking into account engagement, or the location of your baby in relation to the pelvis; effacement, the thinning of the cervix; and dilation, opening of the cervix. Your doctor will also check to see if the cervix has softened and moved to the front of the vagina, signaling that your body is gearing up for birth. Since you are visiting the doctor, find out what the final results were from your Group B Strep test. It is important to know whether or not you tested positive because mistakes do occur from time to time, and if the information is not found in your chart, you will not receive the proper antibiotics that are needed to reduce Baby’s risk of infection.
So here are some of my tips for week 37:
Hospital bag(s) should be packed by now. Don’t forget a pillow or even a birthing ball.
If you are planning an alternative birthing method, contact your caregiver and hospital to ensure that they can facilitate your needs.
Hospital Route: Figure out how you are getting to the hospital. Map a route and take a trial run. Keep in mind traffic patterns during different times of the day. If you are using a taxi, be sure that they are reliable and be sure to have the number on hand.
Car Seat: Install Baby’s carseat if you have not done so already. Most hospitals will not allow you to leave until they see the carseat properly installed in the car.
If you are up to it, you may want to try perineal massage. The perineum is the area of skin stretching between the vagina and the rectum. This can reduce the amount of tearing as well as the chances of an episiotomy.
It may be a good time to have sex with your partner (as long as your doctor has not directed otherwise). After Baby is born you will need to wait approximately 6 weeks until you receive the go ahead to have intercourse.
So that is it for week 37! If you have any questions or comments please join in the conversation in the forums at pregnancychat.com.
I can’t wait to tell you what is happening during week 38, until then enjoy this pregnancy journey these are the precious moments our lives our made of, I’m Monica Healy and thanks for watching.