You’ve reached your ninth and final month, the end of your 37th week, when you are finally considered “full term.” You’ve been pregnant for most of the year, and you’re probably exhausted and ready for this baby to come out already! Try not to stress or dwell on this; your baby will be here soon enough. You may still have a few weeks to go, so try to keep your mind occupied. Your baby will be here when he or she is ready. While most babies will do well if born at 37 weeks, it is best for them to be born after 39 weeks. This is why your doctor will not induce labor or perform a cesarean delivery before that, unless medical necessity dictates otherwise.
Your caregiver may recommend a Group B strep test. Group B Strep (short for Streptococcus) is a type of bacteria that can be found in or around the area of the vagina or the rectum. It is not a problem unless your baby becomes infected as he or she comes out, in which case some serious conditions may develop. If the test is positive, however, antibiotics can be prescribed to take care of the problem.
Symptoms and Body Changes at 37 Weeks
As the 37th week of pregnancy comes and goes, you may be experiencing more and more pressure on your pelvic bones if the baby uses them as a pillow. As your weight increases, you may also be feeling the effects of gravity. Exhaustion is expected, so don’t think you need to be “super mom” just yet. There will be plenty of time for that in the near future.
As your waistline has been expanding, so have your breasts. They are full of milk, ready for feeding, and beginning to secrete colostrum. Leakage from your breast is a common occurrence. At this time your breasts may be sensitive and painful to the touch. This is normal. You may notice stretch marks around your breasts and waist, as well as in your hip region. You can expect to continue experiencing all the aches, pains, and emotions that come with full term pregnancy. Hang in there, Mom!
Your Baby’s Development
Your baby is growing at a much slower rate these days, about ½ ounce per day. Before, his or her skin was very loose and wrinkly. These days it’s becoming much smoother due to the fat building up under the skin. His or her lungs are well developed, and breathing movements are more frequent as the baby gets the hang of the inhale/exhale process. The amniotic fluid continues to decrease as your baby grows, and he or she weighs approximately 6½ to 7 pounds and is about 19 inches long by now. The baby’s hair has been growing rapidly, and depending on genetics he or she could have a full head of hair at this point.
Pregnancy Week 37 Tips
Try to relax. As you travel through the final weeks of your pregnancy, it’s crucial that you rest as much as possible. As always, when you lie down, try to stay on your left side. Light exercises can help relieve pain if you have the strength to do so. Continue eating small meals, multiple times a day. Fruits and vegetables in your diet will help to maintain a healthy balance of nutrients for you and your baby.
Make sure you are prepared for labor and childbirth by packing a bag or making arrangements to get to the hospital if your partner is at work or unavailable when your water breaks. Having a birth plan prepared can also help ease your mind if unexpected events cause childbirth to stray from the vision you’ve been playing out in your head. Discuss with your caregiver what to do when your contractions start or your water breaks. Knowing what to expect from now on will prevent anxiety or panic.
First, you may feel your baby “dropping.” after this the pressure will be lower, in your pelvis and bladder rather than under your diaphragm and ribcage. This happens as your baby descends into your pelvis in preparation for the voyage out, a few weeks before birth if it is your first pregnancy, but perhaps not until you actually are in labor if it is not your first time. Your Braxton Hicks contractions may be stronger and more frequent. This is normal. If you are concerned or not sure about what to do, call your doctor.
You may pass your mucus plug. As the name indicates, this is a plug made of thick mucus that occludes your cervix. It may come out whole or as increased vaginal discharge. Sometimes a little blood can be seen in it. Again, there is no reason to panic. This may be a sign that labor will come soon. The contractions may also cause your bag of water to break. In fact, occasionally the water breaks without contractions. This may be a small trickle or a large gush. Remember the rule: don’t panic but definitely call your healthcare provider. Next is pregnancy at 38 weeks.