Pregnancy week by week

Baby

Toddler

Week 37 of Pregnancy


Congratulations! Your baby is now officially full term. Even though you are full term, you still have a few weeks until you reach your estimated due date.You should have a bag packed ready; labour could start anytime from now on. Make a list of everything you need to bring to the hospital with you. Our hospital checklist will help you decide what to pack. Keep all your important phone numbers (especially of your doctor and the hospital) close to you.

During your antenatal visit, your doctor will examine you to see how far down your baby’s head is. This will give her an idea of how much time you have left before you deliver. She will also examine the condition of your cervix. She will check to see if your cervix has started to efface (grow thinner), or begun to soften and dilate. Your doctor may advice you to be on a lookout for any signs that your labour may be starting:

 

  • Regular contractions that grow more frequent, stronger and longer

  • Contractions are not affected significantly by a change in your level of activity

  • A trickle or gush of fluid from your vagina

  • A regular, rhythmic backache


Your body

Your baby has probably moved down into your pelvis. This will relieve pressure on your chest and stomach; you will now be able to breathe easier. However, if this is not your first pregnancy, the baby may not move down until labour. You may notice relatively more vaginal discharge. You may have difficulty walking if your baby’s head is pressing on your pelvic floor. You will also have to visit the bathroom more frequently because of the pressure on your bladder. Remember to do your Kegel exercises, as it will not only make your labour easier, but also prevent bladder leaks that tend to happen around this time due to extreme bladder pressure.



Your other symptoms during this week will all be familiar by now. You will likely have shortness of breath, constipation, heart burn, rashes and other changes on your skin, increased hair growth, forgetfulness, haemorrhoids, and bleeding gums. It is believed that your baby’s hormones kick start labour. When your baby is ready to emerge your baby’s brain will trigger the production of hormones that stimulate the uterus to encourage contractions. Any time after this week, you may lose the mucus plug that sealed off your uterus from infection. The mucus plug can be lost few weeks, days, or hours before labour and is thick, yellowish, and may be tinged with blood. This mucus plug is also called “show”.

If your baby has not dropped into a head down position by now, your doctor may chose to perform a procedure called an external cephalic version (EVC). During this procedure your doctor will attempt to turn the baby by applying pressure to your abdomen. EVC have a success rate of about 58%, though sometimes a stubborn baby will turn right back.

You’ll be asked not to eat for twelve hours before the procedure in case of complications and an emergency surgery. First, you’ll be taken to a hospital as this procedure can in rare cases cause the placenta to separate from the uterine wall, your water to break or your baby’s heart rate to become erratic, all of which will result in either a C-Section or a labour, hence this procedure is never done before your baby is full-term. Once at the hospital an ultrasound will be done to check babies position, the placenta position and overall health. Your baby’s heart rate will be monitored while your doctor or a specialist in EVC’s will apply the pressure to your abdomen and attempt to get your baby to turn.

And that’s it. If your baby is one of the forty-two percent that doesn’t turn most doctors will wait at least a week or two more to see if the baby just decides to go ahead and turn on its own. If your baby doesn’t turn and you aren’t having twins unfortunately most women end up scheduled for a C-Section has this is safer for the baby.


Your baby

Your baby is now fully mature and ready to be born. However, he is still growing and developing each day. Fat is still being laid down at the rate of a half ounce a day. His body fat is now 8% and this will increase to 15% over the next three weeks. She may weigh about 2.9 kg. She could measure about 50 cm. You should still feel her twisting and wriggling about even though there is not much room left. He will turn towards light and practise breathing movements. As the wall of the uterus becomes thinner, you will probably be able to observe your baby’s movement’s like a hand, an elbow, or a foot sticking out from the belly. Antibodies from your blood will be crossing the placenta, which will help support your baby’s immune system. Once born, your breast milk will resume the process. This is called passive immunity.


Remember

Nowadays, most hospitals encourage pregnant women to have a birthing partner who can accompany her during labour. Check with your doctor about hospital policy. Also, this is something that you need to discuss with your partner as well.

Some women don’t want their hubby with them-they may feel he’s needed more at home looking after older children, or they may feel able to shout and scream as much as they like in labour with another woman who understands just how they feel!

Others want the baby’s dad to be with them throughout the whole experience. It’s worth talking things through with your partner. Some dads know they want to be there, others are not really sure. If your hubby wants to opt out, perhaps your mum or your sister will be happy. Of course, you will have your doctor with you during labour but it is worthwhile having someone else with you who can hold your hands, rub your back and remind you why you are doing this!



FAQs

1) How is labour induced?

There are many ways of inducing labour. The simplest way is to give a vaginal suppository to soften and dilate your cervix. If you are already admitted in the hospital, you will be started on a syntocinon drip. This will produce uterine contractions. Another way to induce labour is to break your water (artificial rupture of membranes). This is done when your cervix has already started to dilate. Check out our section on induction of labour to read in detail about each method.

Remember, inducing labour has its risks and unless there is a medical reason for an induction it is better to let nature take its own course.


 



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