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The 37th week of pregnancy: what happens to the baby and mom

It is at the 37th obstetric week of pregnancy that the medical establishment considers the baby to be full-term, but it does not mean that he will be born any time now. The probability of giving birth does exist, especially for multiparous mothers. The baby continues to prepare for his entry into the world, accumulating body fat and preparing for breathing.

The mom’s organism is racing to the finish line as well: there are changes in the uterine position, cervical condition, nature and intensity of discharge and the general condition of the body. Due to certain changes, many pregnant women feel relief. Expectant mothers should already prepare bags for the hospital, and some even prefer to be pre-admitted.

The size and development of the fetus in the 37th week of pregnancy

The thirty-seventh week of pregnancy is not a term when the baby undergoes major changes. He is now sufficiently developed, having all the features of a full-term baby.

Pregnancy week 37 sizeThe average weight of the baby in the 37th week of pregnancy is 2700-2900 grams, while the height of the fetus is 47-49 cm. Twins can weigh a little less.

  • Due to the formation of subcutaneous fat fetal skin becomes lighter.
  • Peach fuzz on the body is almost gone. The head is covered with hair and fingernails are already long.
  • Ear and nose cartilage have been formed and hold their shape.
  • Nervous system is becoming more mature. Nerve fibers are covered by a membrane which is necessary for proper impulse transmission.

In the 37th week, lung maturation is underway due to the influence of the steroid hormone cortisone produced by the baby’s body. There is accumulation of surfactant that will allow pulmonary alveoli to remain expanded after first inhalation. The baby trains in making respiratory motions.

The digestive tract is lined with a ciliated epithelium, essential for moving food during digestion. The intestine, where the first baby’s first feces (meconium) have already formed, is in a peristaltic motion.

The position of the fetus in the uterus is steady. The most common position is cephalic presentation, but sometimes it is breech. The latter position in some cases is considered to be a reason for a planned caesarean section. This method of delivery is used if the baby is in the womb perpendicularly or obliquely to the uterine vertical axis.

[attention type=yellow]In this term the baby is frequently quite ready for birth, especially in case of twins. Fraternal twins and identical twins are born even earlier, so the preservation of a multiple pregnancy to this term is an occasion for celebration.[/attention]

What’s going on with a mom in the 37th week

Photos of belly at 37 weeks of pregnancy

A pregnant woman along with her baby are in the home stretch leading to their meeting. And if she herself buys and prepares baby things, her body goes through certain changes in the 37th week of pregnancy – the precursors of labor.

The uterine fundus drops, i.e. the abdomen gets lower. In a first pregnancy, you should not really worry, because labor is still 2-4 weeks away, but those who have already experienced labor, should see a doctor, as their abdomen drops right before the birth of the baby. Photos of bellies in the 37th week of pregnancy can be seen above.

  • The dropped abdomen begins to put pressure on the rectum and bladder, so the pregnant woman often visits the restroom.
  • Breathing difficulties and heartburn often depart in this period, as the uterine fundus no longer presses on the stomach and diaphragm.
  • Lower back pain either appears for the first time or gets worse
  • Training contractions, that cause the abdomen to tighten, bother the pregnant woman in the 37th week of pregnancy more frequently and for longer periods of time, but they are not regular and not as intense, as uterine contractions in labor.
Future mother at 37 weeks of pregnancyWeight gain of the pregnant woman is not significant at this time (no more than 200 g per week). In some cases, it stops or slightly slows down, but the belly continues to grow with the baby.

The future mother can hardly find a comfortable sleeping position. The baby may slightly reduce his moving activity, but any movement is painful for the mother. Keep track of kicks in the 37th week of pregnancy, because both their strengthening and weakening may indicate a problem with the baby.

Due to hormonal changes in connection with the upcoming labor, discharge in the 37th week of pregnancy are more intense and liquid. But this could be a sign of leaking fluid, which is checked by means of special tests that are sold in pharmacies, or carried out in a maternity hospital. Also, the breasts may leak colostrum.

[attention type=yellow]In the 37th week, the mucus plug may begin to fall away in the form of a blood-streaked clot. This may be a sign of the early onset of labor, but in some cases, it still takes about two weeks before the baby is born.[/attention]

Whether there are indicators or not, a woman is already playing the waiting game. She becomes irritable, and may experience a fear of childbirth. The complex psychological condition is exacerbated by sleep problems. Thus, it is necessary to visit the doctor more often, and in some cases, the future mothers are checked into the hospital for early observation and preparation.

Analyses, examinations and ultrasound in the 37th week of pregnancy

 Photo fetal ultrasound in the 37th week of pregnancy

In this term, pregnant women have a standard check-up with their obstetrician-gynecologist, and take a urine test and a blood test, if necessary. The doctor measures the belly, weighs the woman.

Often during the same appointment, the doctor will examine you on the examination table, in order to assess the cervical condition, as well as taken swabs from the vagina, cervix and urethra to rule out the presence of infections that may pass to the child when he is going through the birth canal.

Ultrasound in the 37th week is carried out only upon necessity, for example, if you had previous deviations, uterine hypertonus or there were fears about the fetal condition during this pregnancy. Thus, indications for an unscheduled ultrasound can be that of pathological changes of fetal activity. Additionally, a CTG may also be set up.

We invite you to watch the video of a fetal ultrasound in the 37th week of pregnancy and to look at the baby photo above.

Possible abnormalities

Based on the analysis and the examination of the future mother‘s health, some pathological conditions can be found.

  • Bloody discharge signals a placental abruption, a dangerous condition that requires immediate hospitalization.
  • It is rare, but a pregnancy may terminate in this term. Therefore, it is important to monitor your baby’s movements and your well-being.
  • Late pregnancy preeclampsia – is a toxicosis, which appears in the last term of pregnancy, including 37th week. It manifests itself in the form of edema, high blood pressure and protein in the urine sample. Such a condition requires hospitalization and treatment under hospital conditions. In some cases, severe late-term preeclampsia is cause for premature delivery.
  • Hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) of the fetus may occur in several ways:
    – changing frequency of baby’s movements, often their numbers drop;
    – total CTG score of 8 and below;
    – heart rate below 110 b/min. at rest and below 130 b/min. in motion;
    – intrauterine growth retardation, which in the 37th week’s period is indicated by low fetal weight and small size (mainly smaller abdominal girth);
    – abnormalities of the utero-placental blood flow, which is revealed by a Doppler test.

Severe hypoxia can be a cause for a cesarean section and can affect the Apgar score.

What is the Apgar score?

From the 37th week is often the week when pregnancy comes to a conclusion, the expectant mother is advised to know the scores (0 to 2), which evaluate different parameters of newly born babies:

  • skin color (skin is cyanotic; limbs only are cyanotic; skin is pink);
  • heart rate (0; less than 100; more than 100);
  • movement (none; reduced tonus of certain limbs; active);
  • grimaces and shows a reflex upon introduction of the catheter into the nose (no responses; weak grimace; sneezing and coughing, crying);
  • breath (none; intermittent, weak cry; normal breathing and loud cry).

All together, they form the Apgar score. They are evaluated in the first and fifth minutes of the baby’s life. The first indicator must be at least 7, and the second – 8. If these numbers are lower, the measurement is repeated in 20 minutes.

[attention type=yellow]An Apgar score of between 0 and 3 is caused by hypoxia during pregnancy or labor. Such a condition is dangerous and often requires intensive care and special monitoring of the child. Complicated conditions can be an obstacle to the first latching to the mother’s breast.[/attention]

The importance of breastfeeding

The importance of breastfeeding

If there are no problems, then the first contact of mother and child is a breastfeeding. This is very important because the baby receives irreplaceable colostrum and stimulates mother’s breasts for further successful lactation.

But even if you fail to attach the baby immediately after birth, this is not the final verdict and successful breastfeeding is possible thereafter.

For this reason, the expectant mother needs to start learning about lactation and problems that may arise – before childbirth – and learn how to deal with them. It is much more important than preparation of baby things, because the benefit of breastfeeding can not be overstated.

  • Mother’s milk is adapted to the needs of the child, depending on the age of the child and the stages of his development.
  • The milk contains antibodies that protect the baby from many infections, and after first year the number of antibodies increases, so considering breastfeeding useless after 12 months is an outdated myth.
  • Breastfeeding helps to reduce and prevent postpartum depression.
  • Breastfeeding calms the child, as emergence into the world is stressful for him.
  • Feeding helps mom to drop the extra weight and get back in shape.
  • It prevents breast cancer.
  • Until the child reaches 6 months, breastfeeding on demand is a natural form of contraception, but fully relying on it is not advised.
  • Iron from breast milk is absorbed more efficiently.

The process of feeding is a moment of unity between mother and child, which lays the foundation for a trusting relationship between them. This is a natural phenomenon, because only 5% of women have no milk or insufficient quantities. But even if your breastfeeding failed, for whatever reasons, do not consider yourself a bad mother, as for a child your health and psychological condition are the most important.

But the baby has not yet been born, and all nutrients come to him through the umbilical cord and depend largely on the diet of the future mother.

Mom’s nutrition in the 37th week

Moms nutrition at 37 weeks of pregnancyProper diet is important during the entire period of gestation of the child. In the 37th week it is recommended to use fresh dairy products that are not only an excellent source of calcium, but also prevent constipation.

Basically, it’s better to adhere to a proper diet, limiting the consumption of allergenic foods, especially if the parents have a known sensitivity. You must refrain from fatty, fried and spicy foods and not indulge in sweets. Meals should be taken in small portions.

[attention type=yellow]You need to drink at least 1.5 liters of clean water a day. This rule applies even if you have edema in the 37th week of pregnancy, because dehydration can only make things worse.[/attention]

Sexual activity in the 37th week

Sexual relations in the last weeks of gestation do not always bring joy to the expectant mother, because it is difficult to choose a comfortable position, and she is tormented by constant fatigue. But if you and your partner have the desire, and the doctor has not prescribed complete rest, it is possible to engage in sex in the 37th week of pregnancy. It is even useful as sperm prepares the cervix for childbirth.

But if the mucus plug has fallen away or there are other contraindications, you need to give up intimate relations. Sex can stimulate uterine contractions and early labor.

Recommendations for future parents

Tips at 37 weeks of pregnancyEven if the sexual relationship is in question, the future mom and dad should not deny each other tenderness. After all, this is the key to a close family relationship, and the right atmosphere for the development of the child. Before birth, spend time together – for example, walking. Going far from home is not recommended. Also, do not forget about light exercises in this term.

In the 37th week it’s best to have selected the place where you want to have your baby, as well as chosen a doctor who will deliver the baby. In this period, it’s necessary to make a final decision on partnership delivery. If dad wants to be present at the birth, then he should take all the necessary tests and chest X-rays. The latter is required upon discharge from the hospital.

Video about the 37th week of pregnancy

If you’re worried that labor may commence in the 37th week, you can watch this video guide. It discussed what happens to the baby in the hospital after birth, and the assessment of his condition. You will learn a doctor’s opinion on disposable diapers, that can help you to decide whether to use them or not. A neonatologist discusses the benefits of colostrum and breast milk.

[attention type=yellow]It seems to me that the correct attitude of pediatricians and obstetricians toward breastfeeding is one of the important parameters when choosing a hospital. At the same time, health professionals should realize the benefit of it not merely in words and on paper, but also by supporting the future mother in preparation for lactation, by excluding formula supplementation in the first 3-4 days, if the baby gets mother’s colostrum. How important is this to you? What factors did you take into account when choosing a maternity hospital?[/attention]

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