The journey that began nine months ago is about the end anytime soon. From being excited and thrilled to being terrified and anxious, you’ve gone through a whole gamut of emotions. The last few days are particularly challenging- would I be able to distinguish between real and false contractions? How does it feel inside the labor room? How does one know when the water breaks? If these questions confuse you, you might want to read our post. Here we look at the changes at week 37 pregnancy and some tips to help you cope:
37 Weeks Pregnant Symptoms:
Some of the symptoms you experience during week 37 of pregnancy include:
- Increased pressure in the lower abdomen
- Cervical dilation
- Frequency of Braxton Hicks contractions increases
- Discomfort while sleeping and pressure around the pelvic area
- Pronounced changes in the body
- Cramps and varicose veins
- Backache and sore legs
[ Read: 38th Week Pregnancy ]
Changes In Your Body:
Although the textbook definition considers pregnancy between 37 and 40 weeks to be full term, doctors (especially when you plan a C-section) expect the pregnancy to carry on until week 39. Unless there is a medical emergency, which demands early intervention, your baby continues to grow and gain weight until then. Here are some of the changes that your body will undergo at 37th week of pregnancy:
- Increase in Braxton Hicks Contractions
- Cervical Dilation
- Discomfort When Sleeping
- Distinct Changes In The Body
- Leg Cramps and Varicose Veins
- Baby Hasn’t Engaged
- Low Amniotic Fluid
- Vaginal Bleeding
- Water Breaks
- Baby Leaks Meconium Into The Amniotic Fluid
- Visualize a calm and stress-free labor
- Spend Time With Your Partner
- Give Final Touches To The Baby’s Nursery
- Read Up On Postnatal Care
- Believe That Nothing’s Going To Change Unless YOU Do
- Complete Your Parenting Leave Formalities
- Read Up On Postnatal Depression
[ Read: 10th Month Of Pregnancy ]
As the body continues to prepare for labor, you may notice an increase in the frequency of Braxton Hicks contractions. They’re not only frequent, but also more uncomfortable than ever. As your due date nears, these contractions may become rhythmic and painful, often tricking you into believing that you are in labor. These are false contractions, and unlike the real deal they do not grow in consistency, neither do they become stronger. But sometimes, false contractions are difficult to differentiate from labor pain. Rather than relying on self-diagnosis, contact your doctor immediately if you have more than four contractions in an hour and if you have hit the 37- week mark (1).
By the time you hit the 37-week mark, your doctor may call you for weekly examination to look for signs of labor. Some of these include cervical dilation and effacement. Dilation tells you how far your cervix has dilated- it has to open to at least 10 centimeters to allow the baby pass through the uterus into the birth canal. She also checks for the texture of your cervix- it should feel like the inside of your cheeks. Effacement tells the doctor if the cervix is thin enough for labor to begin. She’ll also check if your baby has moved lower down the pelvis. There’s nothing that you can do about dilation or effacement except look for other signs of labor.
As your baby continues to move lower down, her head presses hard against your pelvis and hips. The tremendous pressure around the pelvic area may leave you uncomfortable while sleeping. A warm bath can relax the muscles and soothe your aching back. If sleep continues to elude you, relax, because this is normal. And sleep need not be during the night- catch a wink whenever you can.
[ Read: Symptoms Of False Labor ]
You don’t need someone to tell you that your body isn’t the same as it was. Your hips are wider, the breasts feel bigger, and your belly looks bigger than before. Thankfully, all of these changes are temporary. A proper diet and an active lifestyle after delivery can help to get your body back to shape. You may have also noticed stretch marks on your breasts and stomach. You can’t do anything about them until you’ve delivered. But you can watch your weight because rapid weight gain is a cause for stretch marks. The problem is sometimes hereditary. Wait until your body gets back to its original form because these marks fade away and become less noticeable.
Leg cramps are a common during the third trimester when blood vessels around the legs compress due to weight gain. Sometimes, an improper diet also causes leg cramps- eat foods rich calcium and magnesium. Stretching exercises also help alleviate the pain.
Changes In The Baby’s Body At Pregnancy Week 37:
By 37 weeks of pregnancy, the development process is nearly complete, and all that’s left for your baby to do is to gain weight. Her lungs and brains continue to mature. She also sheds lanugo and the vernix. Your baby is also practicing breathing by inhaling and exhaling the amniotic fluid. She may also suck her fingers or blink her eyes. Some babies have hiccups in the womb– you may notice the distinct jumps inside the belly. The baby continues to shed lanugo and vernix. Her digestive system is now fully functional and contains meconium, a sticky blackish-green tar-like substance that contains bits of lanugo. Sometimes, (especially in cases of prolonged pregnancies) meconium is discharged into the amniotic fluid. In such circumstances, your nurse/midwife may monitor the baby closely to look for signs of stress to the baby.
[ Read: Pregnancy Calendar | Momjunction ]
Although fetal movements aren’t regular, they are more distinct and stronger than before. By the ninth month, doctors usually advise pregnant moms to count the number of kicks and report back if the baby is unusually silent. And if your baby has ‘engaged’ you may feel a sharp jab close to your cervix every time she turns her head.
Size Of The Baby At 37 Weeks:
What is the weight of baby at 37 weeks? Well, your baby puts on around half an ounce of weight every day. By the end of pregnancy 37 weeks, she gains around a quarter of a kilo and weighs between 2.5 to 3 kilos. She also grows in height measuring around 50 centimeters when measured from head to toe.
37 Weeks Pregnant What To Expect?
Although the baby usually moves into the head down position somewhere in the last trimester, it’s not always the case, especially if this isn’t your first pregnancy. Sometimes, for subsequent pregnancies, the baby may not ‘engage’ until labor. And even when she does, it is possible that the baby has her ‘face up towards the mother’s abdomen’. Under such circumstances, the doctor may try to rotate the baby’s head manually using her hand into your vagina or use forceps to rotate the baby. When the head isn’t facing the birth canal, the baby is said to be a breech presentation. She could assume several positions, i.e. frank breech, complete breech, etc. Doctors usually recommend a C-section when babies remain in breech position (2).
- Your amniotic fluid continues to increase and reaches its peak by week 38 after which there is a steady decline. But, when amniotic fluid drops down to less than 5 centimeters or has a volume of less than 500 ml at week 37 of gestation, your doctor may indicate that you have low amniotic fluid. 37 weeks pregnant ultrasound scans can help you determine the exact situation. Low fluid levels during early and mid-pregnancy can trigger a miscarriage or affect your baby’s health. But during the third trimester, it is fairly common for women to have low levels of amniotic fluid. When this occurs after 37 weeks pregnancy, your doctor may recommend inducing labor or suggest a C-section depending on the baby’s birth position. The doctor may monitor fluid levels closely and even prescribe intravenous fluid rehydration.
- Pregnant women often lose their ‘mucus plug’ a few weeks before labor. It may flow as a lump or as a tiny discharge (tinged with blood and brown, red, or pink in color) over the course of several days. It is normal and not a cause for concern. It is normal and not a cause for worry. But vaginal bleeding during the last trimester is not common and indicates conditions like placenta Previa, placental abruptions, and Vasa Previa. Whatever the reason, this isn’t the time for self-diagnosis; contact your doctor or midwife immediately when you notice bleeding.
- Most women experience contractions before their water breaks. But sometimes, the amniotic sac may rupture first. When it occurs, doctors usually induce labor. Sometimes, the amniotic fluid gushes out and sometimes, it comes out as a trickle. If your water breaks, do not panic and remember to follow your doctor’s instructions. It includes using sanitary pads to prevent the fluids from wetting your clothes. And the most important instruction of all, contact them promptly.
- Your doctor might have asked you to contact her immediately if your amniotic fluid appears greenish or brown in color. Such a condition is common in post-term pregnancies and indicates that the baby’s gut is mature. It could also indicate that the baby is distressed. When the fluid becomes scanty, meconium can cause severe complications. It is called Meconium Aspiration Syndrome. Babies with MAS could develop complications like pneumonia, pneumothorax and may need assisted ventilation.
Tips To Cope With Week 37:
As your due date approaches, it is normal to feel restless and anxious about the impending delivery. Can I cope with labor pain? What did I think when I opted for a natural childbirth? Can I change my mind and opt for a C-section now? Epidural or no epidural? Ah, the doubts seem endless! Here are some ways to help you cope:
- Not that it can change the shape of things to come, but a stress-free mind is an important precursor towards stress-free labor. Besides, it’s much better than worrying about labor! Spend some time alone and mentally visualize that your labor is progressing according to plan and with zero complications.
- Between feeding and nappy changing, your baby leaves you with little time and energy to spend time with your partner. Make the most of the time that you have with you now- go on a date, watch a movie together, or better still, arrange for a passionate rendezvous with him.
- From arranging toys to buying a baby monitor, there could be several things yet to be ticked off your checklist. Shopping for baby’s clothes and accessories is perhaps the best way to banish pregnancy related anxieties.
- Postnatal care refers to the healthcare after birth. It’s a crucial period that plays an important role in a woman’s (and her child’s) wellbeing. It is important that you are aware of the things that you should and should not do, following the birth of your baby.
[ Read: Signs Of Labor ]
Tips For Dads-To-Be:
As an expectant dad, it is perfectly normal to be overwhelmed. It is especially true for first-time dads who’re not used to having kids around. Here are some tips to help you face your fears:
- True, your partner and you don’t get to spend as much time together as you guys would want to. But this is the time when quality takes precedence over quantity. Although it is fine to have sex now, it is perhaps the last thing that’s on her mind right now (or the weeks after birth). You have no option but to wait until she’s in the mood for it.
- You don’t want your office colleagues to call you in the middle of your paternity leave to check on something important. Neither do you want to come back from leave with an overwhelming amount of work? Complete all the formalities including handing over duties.
- Postpartum depression or postnatal depression is a condition that affects women within the first few weeks of delivery. Sadly, women either do not acknowledge or do not seek help for the problem.
- Symptoms of depression include extreme irritability, appetite loss, always teary, anxiety, and extreme tiredness. Do not ignore any of these symptoms or it could cost you your relationship. Read up on early signs of postnatal depression and make sure that help is at hand.
What are your experiences of pregnancy at 37 weeks? Share your experiences or doubts with us here. Leave a comment below.
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