Fetal development in pregnancy week 37:
Your baby now weighs about 6 ½ pounds and measures about 21 inches long. You are now considered a full term pregnancy, if you go into labor now, your health practitioner would not try to stop your labor!
Baby is gaining lots of weight now, about ½ an ounce each day. Typically, boys will weigh more than girls at birth. Right now, your baby is practicing their breathing and getting stronger.
Every baby is different, but some are born with as much as 1 ½ inches of hair already grown. You probably can’t wait to see your little one at this point, but you are very close to the end of your waiting.
Lungs are almost completely mature now; in a few days they will be done maturing. Your baby is becoming more coordinated now and can grasp things with their little fingers.
You may have a pelvic exam this week to see how your cervix is progressing. Don’t forget to pack your bag and get together all the things you’ll need at the hospital or birthing center, including the camera and car seat.
You may have gained 35 pounds by pregnancy week 37. Some women will find to their surprise that they actually lose a pound or two in the very final weeks of pregnancy. This is normal and will not harm your baby. Keep eating healthy and drinking plenty of water as you continue your pregnancy from this point on.
By now you are probably bursting with excitement to meet your newborn baby. If you haven’t packed a delivery bag you should do so now. You should also start talking with your healthcare provider about your plan of action for delivery. This will guide you when you do start having contractions and start labor. You might also consider drafting a birthing plan. This doesn’t have to be anything complicated, just a simple outline for you to convey your thoughts and preferences regarding labor and delivery to your healthcare team. Your birth plan may consist of nothing more than a list of preferences for delivery.
Right around pregnancy week 37 your healthcare provider will take a group B strep test. Group B is a form of bacteria that lives inside the vagina or surrounding areas. Up to 35 percent of healthy mothers will have Group B in their vagina at one time or another. Typically this bacteria will not pose any health risks, unless of course you are pregnant.
When you have Group B during pregnancy, there is a chance your baby will get infected with the bacteria during labor and delivery. Typically Group B infections in newborns can be quite serious and result in a host of complications including sepsis (an infection of the bloodstream. In other newborns Group B infection may result in meningitis, which affects the lining of the fluid surrounding your baby’s brain. Most babies affected by Group B will start exhibiting symptoms in the first few days or weeks after delivery.
Fortunately you can protect your baby from infection, which is why your doctor will perform a a culture to determine whether Group B is present in your vagina. If group B is present your doctor will likely prescribe a course of antibiotics for your before and during your labor. This will help minimize the risk that the infection will spread to your baby during delivery.
Some women are more at risk than others for Group B infection, including those that have delivered previously with a Group B infection, women who have a UTI during or around the time of delivery and women who rupture their membranes prior to 37 weeks pregnant. Hopefully in the future researchers will develop a vaccine to help prevent Group B infection and spread to newborns.
If you haven’t helped her pack a bag for labor or get the house ready. Right now she could go into labor safely at any point.
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Pregnancy Health Tips
At 37 weeks pregnant it is the time many women consider creating a birth plan. A birth plan is simply a way that you can convey your ideas and desires regarding the birthing process to your healthcare team before, during and after labor.
Many women use birth plans to list their expectations regarding the birth process. A birth plan can help your healthcare team better understand your needs and desires, and it can help you prepare to welcome your baby into the world in a manner you deem fit.
You don’t have to use anything fancy to create a birth plan, you can simply write down your ideas on paper. There are some common things, however, you probably want your birth plan to address. Among the more common areas covered by a birth plan include:
- Whether or not you wish to receive pain relief during labor.
- What kind of pain relief you prefer.
- Whether you plan to breastfeed or bottle feed.
- Whether or not you want a circumcision performed if you are having a boy.
- If you want to listen to music or other forms of entertainment while giving birth.
- Whether or not you want to use a tub or shower if available to relax in during labor.
- Describe what positions you prefer to be in during birth.
- Whether or not you agree to an episiotomy, or if there are certain steps you would like your healthcare provider to take in order to avoid one.
- Whether or not you have any special requests related to the birth process.
- Who is allowed in the room when you give birth.
Not sure where to begin? Simply start by writing down a list of your hopes and expectations about the birthing process. Then number and list them to make sure the most important of your needs gets addressed.
You should also consider having your partner contribute to the birth plan. Your partner may come up with a request that you hadn’t considered. You should be comfortable sharing your plan with your healthcare provider, nurses, and anyone else that might be interacting with you during the labor and delivery process.
Remember that even with a birth plan surprises do happen during labor and delivery. You may state that you do not want a cesarean section for example, but sometimes a cesarean may be necessary to protect the well being of you and your baby. Keep an open mind about your birth plan, but also remember that you have a right to inform your team of your preferences and desires during your stay at the birthing center of your choice.
If you haven’t already addressed the envelopes on your birth announcements you might want to go ahead and do that! Remember once your babies are here there will be a lot of things going on and the birth announcements will probably be low on that list. Do everything you can before the birth of your babies so that you can enjoy what little quiet time you’ll have after you come home with your bundles of joy.