This week, you’re getting closer than ever to your baby’s arrival, and her body is still maturing. Find out what else you need to know now that you’re 37 weeks’ pregnant.
How big is my baby at 37 weeks?
This week, your baby’s bigger than ever at the size of a large cantaloupe. She weighs around six and a half pounds, though if he’s a boy, he’ll likely weigh even more than this. She’s also getting tall, measuring over 19 inches from top to toe.
What’s my baby doing at 37 weeks?
Although your due date is close now, your baby still isn’t considered full term for another two weeks, so if she’s born now, she’ll still be considered early term. The next two weeks in your womb - if she decides to stay in there till then! - will see her brain and lungs reach full maturity. She’ll keep gaining around half a pound a week until the birth.
She’ll also still be practising for life outside of her cosy current home, rehearsing by breathing amniotic fluid, sucking her thumb, moving from side to side and even blinking. Once she’s born, her head will be the same circumference as her chest.
Ever wondered what your baby will look like once she’s born? Surprisingly, your baby may look quite different to both you and your partner. If she’s born now and has different colour hair to both of you, don’t fret: it’s perfectly normal for dark haired couples to have a baby emerge with blonde or red hair, or fair-haired parents to have a little one with a dark mop. Alternatively, your baby could have no hair but just sport a fine peachy down.
What is my body doing at 37 weeks?
Your doctor or midwife will start checking for signs of labour now, looking to see if your cervix is dilated (it needs to open to 10 centimetres in order for the baby to pass into the birth canal) as well as checking the consistency of the cervix, which will get softer before labour. You’ll also be checked for effacement, or how thin your cervix is (it’ll be super-thin before giving birth), the position of your cervix and the position of the baby in relation to your pelvis. The lower down your baby is, the closer you are to meeting her for the first time.
All these processes can take from a day to a month to occur, so while of course they’re helpful signs in determining how far along you are, they’re not concrete evidence of the actual start of labour. For example, some women who are very dilated may not give birth for weeks, while other women’s cervixes can go from being closed to open in a matter of hours.
If you go into labour now, you might feel crampy – a bit like you’re getting your period. You’ll also pass your mucus plug – it’ll either come out all at once in a lump, or you’ll get increased vaginal discharge over a few days. It might have brown, pink or red blood in it, especially if you’ve had sex, which is still perfectly safe at this stage. It’s because your cervix is softening in readiness for labour.
If you’re worried at all about any discharge or bleeding that doesn’t seem normal, speak to your doctor urgently. And if your waters break before your contractions have started, then you’ll be induced if they don’t start soon after to reduce the risk of infection. So whether your waters come out in out in a trickle or full flow, you must call your doctor or midwife straight away.
Common symptoms to look out for:
- Not gaining weight: Yippee - another happy pregnancy symptom! Many women don’t gain any weight at all at this stage, which makes a change from the pound a week of gained weight you’ve come to expect from the third trimester.
- The baby not moving as much: If your baby is more quiet than usual, don’t worry: by the time her head is engaged in your pelvis, there’ll be a lot less room for her to dance around, with the only movements possible usually twisting and squirming. What’s important is to feel some movement every day. If you’re not feeling this, speak to your doctor or midwife.
- Insomnia: It may be harder than ever to nod off at night, so try to take it easier during the day. You’ll need to relax before the exhausting but beautiful whirlwind the baby will bring with her.
- Changing breasts: Just like your bellybutton probably became an outie, your nipples will also protrude more now, perfect for your baby to latch onto once she’s born.
- Water breaking: Whether your water breaks before or after contractions occur, this means labour is imminent. Whether you get a trickle or a gush, call your doctor or midwife to let them know the news.
What to do this week:
Feeling like you want to make your house into the perfect little home for your baby? Welcome to the nesting instinct! From scrubbing the grouting in your bathroom with a toothbrush to rearranging every item in your kitchen cupboard in size order, or even dismantling door handles so you can disinfect the screws, when this instinct hits you, nothing will stand in your way. Not even a bewildered partner. Essentially, it’s a primal need to prepare a ‘nest’ for the new baby, and organise your world.
Although of course it’s not harmful to spend your days cleaning (if you must!), there’s some things you should be aware of first. If you’ve got the urge to redecorate, then stay away from oil based paints, old paint that may contain lead and some latex paints that contain mercury. Most water-based ones can be used but always check the label and wear protective clothes or gloves. Fancy disinfecting your house top to bottom? Check the safety of the products you’re using. For example, avoid oven cleaners and dry cleaning products, and never mix ammonia with chlorine-based products like bleach, as the combination produces toxic fumes.
Wear rubber gloves when cleaning and try not to breathe strong fumes. And if you have a cat then use gloves to clean the litter box, or get someone else to do it while you’re pregnant. Cat faeces can cause toxoplasmosis (a rare, very serious blood infection that can cause birth defects). And it might be a good idea to stay away from gardening if your cat goes to the loo outside, or if you know neighbourhood moggies use your garden as a public toilet.
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