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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.
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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 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. 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 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.
During your pregnancy, your cervix is thick, and it begins to thin out when you’re in active labor. When it is half-thinned, it is 50% effaced, and right before delivery it is 100% effaced. 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 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 also indicate changes in your cervix.
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 wet your pants, 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. Resist the urge to cut back on drinking, though, because your body needs the fluids. (2)
Pregnancy hormones cause the mucous membranes in your nose to swell, leading to snoring. The most helpful thing at this stage is to elevate your head with pillows under your shoulders and head.
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 just might be that you have an illness that requires medical attention.
Week 37 Pregnancy: Baby Born
At 37 weeks, if baby were to be born, it’s typically not a concern at this point in the game. Technically, you reach the 37-week milestone 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!
1. Glade, B.C., Schuler, J. (2011). Your Pregnancy Week by Week, 7th edition. First Da Capo Press
2. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2010). Your Pregnancy and Childbirth Month to Month, 5th edition.
3. Simkin, P. (2010). Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn, 4th edition. Meadowbrook Press