You are getting oh so close now to having your baby. Next week you will officially be classed as "term" so if your baby were to be born when you are 37 weeks pregnant, it is unlikely to have any issues because of prematurity. If you’ve left a lot of organising until the last minute, now is the week to get cracking. Many pregnant women put off buying clothing and essentials for their baby until well into their third trimester. They want to make sure everything goes well with their pregnancy and don’t want to "jinx" it by setting up a nursery too early. If this sounds familiar, by 37 weeks pregnant you are entitled to feel some reassurance that your baby will be alright. Check with your maternity care provider will have given you some insight into its growth and how it is developing. How your body has dealt with pregnancy changes will be very clear to you and it may have become difficult to even remember a time when you weren’t pregnant.
I’m not ready to let go yet
Although these can be physically uncomfortable weeks, you may still have a sense of disappointment that your pregnancy is almost over. You’ve become accustomed to having the baby close to you, felt its movements and created a relationship with it. Pregnant mothers can worry that they may not like their baby when it is born or they could potentially have problems bonding with it. These are normal fears and although not every woman speaks about them, it is common to have nagging doubts. Remind yourself that babies are very clever at helping their parents fall in love with them.
Your physical changes this week
- Your back aches, your pelvis is creaking and your bladder can’t hold more than a few millilitres. Welcome to the last few weeks of gestation. Unfortunately, the final stretch of pregnancy is more about benefits for the baby than for the mother. Your baby is having a lovely time in there thank-you, but if you’re feeling just a touch like you’re being used, you are entitled to.
- Your vaginal discharge will increase now and you could need to wear a liner for extra absorbency. This is completely normal and unless it is profuse, itchy, smells unusual or is bothering you don’t be concerned. There is a lot of pelvic engorgement and hormonal activity occurring now and this is a normal outcome.
- You may occasionally get a sharp, almost electrified feeling in your bladder from this week. It could startle you and cause you to feel you are about to wet yourself. As long as you don’t have other urinary symptoms which could mean a urinary tract infection, don’t be concerned. If this is your first baby, it may be engaging in your pelvis and that bony head isn’t far from your sensitive bladder. Changing positions can help but otherwise, it’s just a case of too little room.
Your emotional changes this week
- Excitement is building in you and your partner. You’ll find your mind is prone to drifting off, imagining how the baby will look, visualising yourself holding it and wondering exactly how it will fit into your lives. You may also be frightened, worried if everything will be alright with the baby and how you would cope if it were not.
- You could be concerned about how you will cope with your labour. Fear of the unknown often makes us imagine the worst and it becomes easy to catastrophise possible outcomes. Most mothers seek reassurance but not always. Keeping fears to yourself can only make them worse so seek some trusted sources to confide in. Your maternity care provider is sure to have heard similar concerns many times over.
- If you are having a booked caesarean delivery, mark the date in your diary or calendar if you haven’t already done so. Plan for a quiet couple of days beforehand so you don’t feel you have rushed through them. The last few weeks or pregnancy are often referred to as a waiting game and even if patience isn’t usually one of your attributes, you will save yourself a lot of angst by just letting nature take its course.
- It is so important to invest some time into thinking about how you will adjust to becoming a parent and the possible changes in your relationship with your partner. Parenting actually starts in pregnancy, not once the baby is born.
Your baby’s changes this week
- Your baby is packing on the weight this week, around 500 grams in fact. If you are feeling hungry, give into your body’s signals that it wants more food. The energy from your dietary intake is going directly into your baby’s fat stores and helping it to fill out.
- Your baby doesn’t have much space to move its whole body around now, but will still be able to pivot itself into more comfortable positions. You could find it protests when it’s feeling a little compressed. A sharp jab in the ribs or in your pelvis is usually enough of a prompt for pregnant mothers to get up, move around or even do some pelvic rocking.
- Lanugo, that soft downy hair which has been covering your baby’s skin is being reabsorbed this week. Much of it will end up in your baby’s gut and will be included along with other waste products in its meconium, the first bowel motion. Vernix Caseosa, the white greasy coating on its skin will also be reabsorbed.
Hints for the week
- Take some photos which chronicle your final weeks of pregnancy. You will look back on them in the years to come and wonder at how much your skin could stretch. Measure your tummy with a tape measure wrapped around your belly button. See how much it grows in the last few weeks. Mark this on your pregnancy calendar and watch for increases.
- Read up on information about childbirth and how to have an active labour and delivery. Informed mothers and their partners feel less like observers in their child’s birth and more like participants. If you are having a home birth, speak with your maternity care provider about what you’ll need in terms of practicalities. Plastic sheeting, bed linen which isn’t so precious it has to be kept, a warm safe cot for the baby are essentials. Make a list of emergency numbers and place them by the phone in case they are needed.
- Pack your bag if you are going to hospital. Don’t forget to include toiletries, clothing for yourself and the baby, nappies, any medication you need, your Medicare Card, Health Insurance details, lists of contact numbers for family and friends and most importantly; your own pillow! Remember, you don’t need to pack like you’re going on a Caribbean cruise. So if you forget something your partner can always bring it to you.
Week 38 comes next.
For more information see Pregnancy or Week by Week.
Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. To reduce the risk of injury, never force or strain yourself during exercise. If you feel pain, stop and seek medical attention if necessary.
These programs have been created by Katie Brown - yoga teacher and infant massage specialist
If you are in week 37 of your pregnancy...
Your baby’s due date: December 15 - December 27, 2019
Baby’s star sign: Sagittarius
Chinese year: Pig
Famous people born around your baby's birth date:
- Steven Spielberg
- Brad Pitt
- Ludwig Van Beethoven