By the 37th week, you are almost through with the pregnancy. Medics refer to you as early term because if the baby was to be delivered in the course of the week, he/she would be very healthy. You should be ready for labor any week from now, and therefore, all the preparations for the baby should be complete.
Baby’s growth and development in week thirty seven
By the close of the 37th week, the baby will have moved to the birthing position (head down). However, it is not a surprise to still find him/her still in breech position by the 37th week and even up to the time of delivery. The baby has grown to about 6.3 lbs in weight and approximately 19.5 inches long.
As the baby shifts towards the pelvic area, you will experience some relief on breathing because there will be less pressure on lungs and diaphragm. However, dropping to the pelvic area could come with its own set of discomfort such as false contractions that could keep you making several runs to the hospital.
The baby’s skin continues to pack with additional fat layers and the internal organs are by now invisible. The vernix and lanugo have also been shed considerably and a new layer of fine hair peach fuzz is developing all over.
The ears are very developed by now and the baby responds easily to external sounds. If you make very loud noises, the baby might get startled and make irregular and harder kicks. It is advisable to ensure that you stay away from frightening loud noises as much as you can.
Because you are already in early term, the quantity of amniotic fluid will keep dropping steadily until the baby is born.
Changes to expect in Mom’s body during week 37
By the 37th week, you weight will be about 31-32 lbs. This will keep growing to about 35 pounds by the time you are full term. Remember that this is the average size and your increase could be slightly higher or lower depending on your body.
In this week, you will start experiencing a lot of contractions which can either be true labor or false labor (Braxton Hicks Contractions). As a mother, it is important to ensure that you differentiate between the two types of contractions.
Braxton Hicks Contractions
You feel like the baby has fallen into the pelvic area
Thick mucus from the vagina (bloody show)
Tightening of the uterus starting with mild feeling and then becoming painful
Contractions that are regular and come after very few minutes.
The contractions do not go away like in the case of false labor.
The contractions keep becoming stronger while those in false labor weaken and die off every moment.
When contractions start coming, it is important that you time their intervals and establish whether they are becoming stronger. Mark the beginning of one contraction and subsequent ones and if the bloody mucus becomes too much, you will need to talk to the doctor.
Breech baby position and External Cephalic Version (ECV)
While it is the expectation that the baby has taken the appropriate birthing position (head down) by the 37th weeks, it is not always the case. The baby may be in the breech position (head up) or traverse position (lying sideways). If the baby is in the wrong position, the doctor will try to turn it using External Cephalic Version (ECV) that involves trying to move the baby gently into the right head down position. It is important that the baby is carefully monitored carefully to avoid stress during ECV.
Success of using ECV: The success rate of using ECV is only 60%. If ECV fails, doctors will schedule an emergency C-section. It is because of this that many C-sections are scheduled for weeks 38 and 39 after it is established that the baby is in breech position.
Risks associated with ECV: When ECV is carried out; it comes with its own share of risks.
Risk of umbilical cord twisting and limiting flow of blood to the baby. In such cases, an emergency C-section will be required.
Risk of premature labor.
Premature break of the utero membrane and release of water before the baby can be delivered.
Baby may turn back to the breech position after ECV.
Risk of mother and baby’s blood mixing.
Because of the high risk of blood mixing when an ECV is done, RH-negative women will be injected with immune globulin to prevent RH sensitization. Many doctors are very careful when carrying ECV procedure and will always refer you to a higher risk specialist.
Things to do during the 37th week
Talk to the baby as much as you can especially when relaxing. You might consider singing cool music or even reading through the favorite book, Bible, or even magazine.
Be on the lookout for both false labor and true labor contractions and notify the doctor if you are unsure about them. It is strongly advisable to reach the doctor for confirmation as opposed to being sorry later.
Discuss with your doctor any emerging worry or anxiety you may be having by the 37th week because anytime you may get into labor. You might also want to discuss the birth plan with the doctor for extra clarity on emerging issues.
Confirm and possibly make payments at your point of delivery if the facility requires you to do so. This is a common procedure for many private hospitals because they have already set everything ready for you a couple of weeks before the due date.
Discuss with your close friends about the post-pregnancy period. You might want specific people to be very close to you for assistance. If you live close to your mom and sisters, organize with them to make regular visits.
Be close to your husband as much as possible to let him know what you are going through. The pain, contractions, and pregnancy weight might appear too much and your partner is the best source of encouragement.
Keep grooming your baby’s place and adding new items to make it appealing. You might also want to store most of the baby’s items nearby for easier access and use after delivery.
Make sure to get ample food supplies so that you have everything needed to eat and feel good. Focus should be on fruits and vegetables of choice that might be getting out of season.
Consider buying enough quantities, drying, and storing for continued supply.