Congratulations on a huge milestone week! By the end of this week, week 37 pregnancy (35 weeks since your baby was conceived), your baby is officially full term! Let’s talk about visits to your healthcare provider, symptoms like discharge, and what it would look like if your baby was born this week.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Updated August 15, 2021
Table of contents
Week 37 Pregnancy: A Look Inside
Your baby has gotten so big in the 35 weeks since conception! He or she may weigh in around 6 1/3 pounds. Crown-to-rump length is 14 inches and total length is around 19 inches (1). It’s a little on the small side, but he or she is now a newborn-sized baby! In other news:
- The lanugo (fine hair) that kept baby warm during his or her time in the womb has mostly fallen out (2).
- Baby is still adding fat, and his or her body is now about 16% fat.
- 97% of babies are head down, or vertex, by this time (1).
Your baby brings his hands to his mouth often, just as babies do after birth, and ultrasounds may even show him sucking his thumb. How cute is that?!
Your uterus now reaches an astonishing 6 1/2 to 6 3/4 inches above your belly button. Your total weight gain by this time may be around 25 to 35 pounds, and is probably about as high as it will go. Don’t worry, though. Even if you lose a little weight, baby will continue to gain weight through these last few weeks.
Week 37 Pregnancy: Prenatal Appointments
During this last month of pregnancy, you will continue to see your healthcare provider every week. And your provider will continue to do the things you’re used to — check your weight, blood pressure, and urine, measure fundal height, and listen to baby’s heartbeat. Let’s take a look at other things you can expect at these late appointments.
In late pregnancy, your doctor may begin checking your cervix to see if it is changing. Please note, pelvic or vaginal exams may not be necessary or even beneficial until after you’ve hit your due date. Talk to your doctor about whether vaginal exams are the best choice for you. When you do have a pelvic exam, or your doctor checks your cervix, this is what he or she is checking:
Effacement – During your pregnancy, your cervix is thick, and it begins to thin out when you’re in active labor. (In other words, it has a long neck, and this neck shortens when you’re in active labor.) When it is half-thinned, it is 50% effaced, and right before delivery, it is 100% effaced.
Dilation – The other thing they check is how much the cervix is open, or dilated. When your cervix is fully dilated, it measures 10cm!
The doctor combines these measurements — how effaced your cervix is and how dilated it is — with baby’s station, or how much the baby has descended into your pelvis.
By around week 34 to 36 of pregnancy, most babies will get into the position they’re going to stay in. For 97% of babies, this is a vertex, or head-down, position. It is still possible at this point for a breech baby to turn. However, the possibility of that happening decreases the closer you get to the end of your pregnancy. If your baby is breech, your doctor may talk to you about trying to turn him or her so that you can deliver vaginally, through a process called external cephalic version.
Read More: How to Tell If Baby Is Head Down
Group B Strep
In late pregnancy, usually between weeks 35 and 37, you will be screened for group B streptococci (GBS.) These bacteria are common and usually harmless in adults, which is why you likely wouldn’t know if you were GBS positive. However, infections can be critical in babies, so precautions will be taken to protect baby if mom is positive. If you test positive for GBS, you’ll be given antibiotics during your labor so that it won’t be passed to your baby.
Week 37 Pregnancy: Discharge
You may notice that your vaginal discharge contains more mucus, and may even be tinged with blood. This can happen after a pelvic exam or after sex. It can simply be the result of increased vaginal discharge during pregnancy. Or it can also indicate changes in your cervix.
A bit of color in your vaginal discharge is likely just what is referred to as bloody show. As your cervix begins to change, small vessels may rupture, causing the release of small amounts of blood. This usually looks like a bit of pinkish or brownish tinge to otherwise clear mucus.
During pregnancy, there’s a buildup of mucus called a mucus plug at the opening of the cervix that protects the uterus and baby by acting as a barrier (1). As your cervix stretches and dilates, the mucus plug becomes dislodged. It may come out in one piece, or it may dislodge in small pieces. It may be clear, pink, brownish, or reddish, all of which are normal.
When to Call Your Doctor or Midwife
If you notice what seems like leaking of clear fluid, it’s usually one of two things:
1. Baby kicked your bladder and you unknowingly leaked a bit of urine, or
2. You have a small tear in your amniotic sac, or bag of waters.
If it seems like there’s a steady leak wetting your underwear or that gushes when you change positions, contact your healthcare provider. He or she may want to confirm that it is amniotic fluid and that everything otherwise looks good.
If you see more than a small amount of red blood (remember, old blood looks more brown and red blood is fresh), call your provider right away. They may want to see you to make sure your placenta looks good, you’re not showing any signs of infection, etc.
Week 37 Pregnancy: Symptoms
You’re no doubt pretty uncomfortable now. You may tire easily. You may feel like you can’t expand your lungs enough to get a proper breath. And you may live with back pain and swollen feet as constant companions. Some women still love the feeling of being pregnant while others are just so ready to get it over with and meet their baby. Some of your current symptoms may include:
Your very large uterus presses on your bladder and you may feel like you’re running to the bathroom all day long. You may experience both frequent urination and incontinence. Resist the urge to cut back on drinking, though, because your body needs the fluids (2). Staying hydrated as you approach labor is very important.
Pregnancy hormones cause the mucous membranes in your nose to swell, and this may lead to snoring. The most helpful thing at this stage is to elevate your head by placing pillows under your shoulders and head. Some women find that they sleep better with a wedge pillow that provides more elevation, or even sleep in a recliner in the final weeks of pregnancy.
You may find that nausea makes a comeback in the final weeks of pregnancy. Some women even lose a few pounds. Nausea may be a result of hormone shifts, a growing baby smooshing your stomach, or even a sign that labor is starting. If your nausea is severe or you find yourself unable to eat, drink, or keep food or fluids down, call your doctor or midwife. It may be normal, but it could mean that you have an illness that requires medical attention. Providers will tell you that they’d rather have you err on the side of caution rather than ignoring something that may be a problem, and they don’t mind you calling in with questions.
Most babies will drop, or engage, two to four weeks before birth, though sometimes this doesn’t happen until mom is in labor. (This engagement is also called lightening.) This means that baby settles lower in mom’s pelvis. You may notice that you can see a change in the shape of your baby bump. What may stand out most, though, is that you feel like you can breathe more easily than you’ve been able to in recent weeks or months. This shifting means that baby isn’t sitting so high, crowding your lungs, and that they are able to expand more easily. Celebrate this easier breathing, not only because it feels more comfortable, but also because it means that the time is steadily growing closer for your little one’s arrival.
Week 37 Pregnancy: Baby Born
At 37 weeks, if baby were to be born, it’s typically not a concern. Technically, you reach the 37-week milestone — meaning that baby is officially full term — at the end of this week, so a baby born anytime before that is just shy of being full term.
Still, there is a chance that a baby born now would need a little extra help. The main concerns with babies born early are lung maturity (because lungs are the last system to mature) and heat regulation (because babies without adequate body fat have a hard time regulating their own body heat.) If your little one were to require any intervention at all, it would likely be only for a short time. A baby at 37-weeks gestation would be expected to go home soon and not experience any long-term negative effects.
While it would be great for the pregnancy to last a few more weeks, you can breathe a huge sigh of relief in knowing that you’ve made it to the point where your little one is big and strong enough to safely be born!
Check back next week to learn what to expect in week 38!
- Glade, B.C., Schuler, J. (2011). Your Pregnancy Week by Week, 7th edition. First Da Capo Press
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2010). Your Pregnancy and Childbirth Month to Month, 5th edition.
- Simkin, P. (2010). Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn, 4th edition. Meadowbrook Press