Congratulations! Your due date is coming closer now. However, doctors still do not consider your baby full-term until week 39 of pregnancy. Your baby’s brain, lungs, and liver continue to develop and mature during this time. You may be exhausted with this unending pregnancy, but these last few weeks in your womb are highly beneficial for your baby.
Pregnancy week 37
During this week, your baby will move into your pelvis. Your lungs will get much-needed relief, but this may put additional pressure on your bladder. Your baby is no busy practicing breathing by inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid. The umbilical cord has now begun passing antibodies to your baby to get him ready for delivery.
1. Vaginal discharge
You may notice an increase in thick vaginal discharge during this week. If you see mucous tinged with some blood, this means that the blood vessels in the cervix are rupturing. If you notice heavy spotting or bleeding, you must call your doctor immediately.
2. Breast changes
Your nipples may be protruding more than usual. This change in shape helps the newborn to latch on while feeding.
3. Pelvic pain
As your baby shifts lower into the pelvis in preparation for birth, his head presses hard on your bladder, hips, and pelvis and increases the stress on the joints and muscles here. This pelvic pain can even make it difficult for you to walk.
Some pregnant women start feeling nausea during the last few weeks of pregnancy. Nausea could also be a sign that your labor is about to begin. Eat small, more frequent meals, and avoid foods that trigger nausea.
Pregnancy hormones cause swelling in the mucous membranes in the nose, leading to nasal congestion when you lie down. Nasal sprays or trips available at pharmacies are an easy way to prevent obstruction in nasal passages and prevent snoring.
6. Loss of balance
Your growing belly can shift your center of gravity, making you more unstable on your feet. Once the baby drops lower into the pelvis, the distribution of weight may change further. Be extra careful whenever you are on your feet. Avoid lifting or carrying heavy items.
7. Braxton Hick’s contractions
You may feel these practice contractions more frequently now. If these contractions get stronger and don’t subside when you change position, call your doctor.
8. Leg cramps
Leg cramps may be keeping you up at night now. Drink more fluids and add more calcium and magnesium to your diet.
9. Varicose veins
Varicose veins are swollen, purple blood vessels that appear on legs, rectum, or vulva during pregnancy. Get off your feet and relax whenever you can, and keep your legs elevated. Sleep on your left side to avoid pressure on your main blood vessels.
Your body when you are 37 weeks pregnant
Now that your baby has descended into your pelvis, your belly also shifts lower down. Your lungs will feel the relief as the pressure on them lowers. Unfortunately, your bladder will feel the pressure now. You may feel like your belly is the largest size it can be. As your baby continues to gain weight, you may see your belly increasing in size further.
When you are 37 weeks pregnant, your cervix is also beginning to dilate, and you may lose the mucus plug now. If you notice some extra vaginal discharge that is pink, it may be the mucus plug.
Your baby at week 37
By the end of the 37th week of pregnancy, your baby will weigh seven pounds and will measure around 18 inches long.
- Your baby’s major organs are developed and ready to work in the world.
- Your baby’s digestive system is maturing.
- Your baby is working on his facial muscles and is practicing pouts, frowns, and grimaces.
- His toenails have reached the end of his toes.
- Your baby may also have a head full of hair at birth.
- Your baby is now practicing sucking on his thumb.
Tips to be followed when 37 weeks pregnant
1. Pack your hospital bag
Only 5% of children are born on their due date. Don’t assume you have a lot of time to prepare for your delivery. Pack your hospital bag and keep it ready by the door.
2. Buy a car seat
If you haven’t done so by now, buy a car seat and install it properly. Make sure your car seat meets all the safety standards.
3. Enlist help
The first few weeks after birth can be quite overwhelming. Take help from friends and trusted neighbors to help with the groceries or to take care of your older children.
When you reach the third trimester of pregnancy, you are encouraged to sleep on your left side. Sleeping on your left can reduce the risk of stillbirth.
Signs of labor
At this stage of pregnancy, your chances of going into labor are pretty high. You should be aware of the signs that you are going into labor. If you notice any of these signs, you may be going into labor soon –
1. Mucus plug
You may see thick mucus with a tinge of blood in your underwear. This is the mucus plug that protected your cervix during pregnancy. As your cervix dilates, the mucus plug is released to make way for the baby to come out (1).
Some women feel highly nauseous and sick when they are about to go into labor. So nausea during this time may mean that your baby is arriving soon.
When your hormones get ready for delivery, they can also stimulate your bowels. Diarrhea at this stage of pregnancy can indicate labor.
Signs you have to rush to the hospital
1. Water breaking
You may feel water leaking either in a gush or a slow trickle. This is your amniotic fluid (2).
2. Back pain
If you feel intense and constant back pain that radiates from your stomach to your back, you may be in labor.
3. Regular contractions
If your contractions are repeating and coming more frequently, you may be in labor.
Your pregnancy week 37 doctor’s visit
During this week’s appointment, your doctor will check if your baby has moved into the head-down position. Babies who are breech (bottom down position) won’t shift their position on their own after this week. If your baby is in the breech position, your doctor may try the external cephalic version procedure. If this doesn’t work, your doctor may suggest delivery by C section. During this visit, your doctor will also follow the regular check-up procedures, which include –
- Checking your weight and blood pressure
- Measuring the height of your uterus to gauge your baby’s growth.
- Checking your baby’s heartbeat
- Asking if your baby’s movements are occurring about as often as at your last appointment
- Asking you to leave a urine sample to check sugar and protein levels
Tips for the partner
The size of her belly and the position of the baby can make movement difficult for your baby. Help her by taking over the household chores. Offer her a foot rub or a massage. You can also support your partner by going with her to the doctor’s appointments and staying up to date on her progress.
You are now in the final month of your pregnancy. From now on, you will meet your doctor every week. Your baby will weigh around seven pounds by the end of this week. All his organs are well-developed now, and he is now ready to come out into this world. You may notice increased vaginal discharge during this week. As your baby shifts lower into the pelvis in preparation for the birth, you may feel increased pelvic pain. You should be aware of the signs that you are going into labor at this stage of your pregnancy.