When you’re 37 weeks pregnant, your baby is considered full term. Though your due date is about 3 to 4 weeks away and the baby has not finished growing and maturing, but the baby‘s organs have developed and functioning fully during this period. If a baby is therefore born in this week, he or she will be able to breathe on its own and survive outside the womb.
You may feel anxious about the fast-approaching childbirth. You can talk to your healthcare provider for necessary information and endeavor to learn about the process of labor and delivery that lies ahead.
Your baby measures 20.5 inches, plus or minus an inch or two, from the head to toe and weighs about 6.5 pounds at the time in pregnancy week 37. It continues to develop and add-up fat. Its skin is losing its wrinkly appearance and getting pinker. It continues practicing breathing movements, inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid to exercise its lungs, sucking its thumbs to practice breast or food suckle. When it stretches, you may feel its head, foot or elbow protrude from your stomach.
Your baby’s head is cribbed in your pelvic cavity, protected by your pelvic bones. This position gives your little one some more space for growing its legs and buttocks. Many babies have hair in their head in pregnancy week 37.
By the time you’re 37 weeks pregnant, the coat of lanugo that covered your baby in the earlier weeks has disappeared. Vernix Caseosa, the protective creamy substance that covered the baby has also disappeared. If the baby swallows the lanugo and outside coating, they are stored in its bowels to eventual evacuation.
As a thirty-seven weeks pregnant mom, you start to get uncomfortable feeling during this period. Braxton Hicks contractions are more likely to come in this week. They may be infrequent and painless. Sometimes, these contractions are difficult to distinguish from early signs of preterm labor. If the contractions come frequently and last longer, you need to visit your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
You may notice vaginal discharge in pregnancy week 37. If you see mucous tinted with a few drops of blood in your undies during this period, you can understand that labor is a few days away.
Another change you may notice when you’re 37 weeks pregnant is that your breasts are becoming larger and fuller in preparation of breastfeeding. You may even begin to leak colostrums during this period and likewise experience increased difficulty in sitting, walking and sleeping.
Your breasts become tender, fuller and heavier, when you’re 37 weeks pregnant. Wearing maternity or nursing bra can help you feel more comfortable. You can start washing your nipples with water. Avoid soap to wash the nipples, as it makes the skin of nipples dry, cracked and irritated.
Almost 90% of babies are born within two weeks of the due date. Hence, it is advisable to pack a bag ready for childbirth by the time you’re 37 weeks pregnant.
By this time your baby has moved into head down, back facing posture, which is perfect for delivery. However, if it is lying diagonally in the uterus or in head down facing front position, your doctor could help with a therapy to reposition your baby.
If you’ve not done Group B streptococcus test, this week presents you the last opportunity. This test is routinely performed between week 35 and 37. Group B strep is a bacterium that be traced even in the vaginas of healthy women. It doesn’t show any symptoms in carriers and so many women don’t know they are GBS positive. A sizeable percentage of women are carriers of this bacterium and this type of bacterium is not harmful to them at all, but it can cause infections to the baby while passing through vagina during delivery.
The test isn’t painful in any way – it’s just like a Pap smear, using vaginal and rectal swabs. Though this type of bacteria is not harmful in adults, hence, it should be prevented from passing to the baby. If the test result shows that you have this bacterium when you're 37 weeks pregnant, you’ll be given IV antibiotics during labor to prevent any risk of infection to your baby during vaginal delivery.