Welcome to Scary Mommy’s pregnancy week by week guide! We’re here to give you all the info about what to expect when you’re expecting: be it week by week symptoms, your baby’s development, your changing body, or ultrasounds and appointments. Here’s everything you need to know about week 37.
Your Body at Week 37 Pregnant
You’re in the home stretch, and it’s not exactly comfortable. At 37 weeks pregnant, many expecting moms alternate between exhaustion and nervous energy. At this point, your priority should be to rest up — all that last-minute shopping can wait (or be done online from the comfort of your couch).
When it’s time to give birth, you’re gonna want to have as much strength and energy as possible. Sleep will likely continue to be elusive because it’s increasingly hard to get into a comfortable position, but rest up and relax as much as you can. You’ll thank yourself later.
Pregnancy Brain & Mood Swings
You’ve probably already become acquainted with “pregnancy brain,” a fun form of brain fog and forgetfulness that typically intensifies during the third trimester. It can be frustrating, especially when you’re trying to dot every “i” and cross every “t” as you prepare for your baby’s arrival, but it’s totally normal and you can rest assured that you’ll bounce back in no time.
Your Baby at Week 37 Pregnant
At 37 weeks pregnant, your baby is about the size of a tray of lasagna, weighing in at 6.5 pounds and about 19 inches long. Although this is the week that your baby is officially considered “full-term,” it’s best that they stay put for now. If they haven’t adjusted to the head-down position at this point, it’s time to consult with your doctor about the available options and techniques to help them turn in order to avoid a breech birth.
Your baby is hitting some exciting milestones in the womb. At 37 weeks, their facial muscles are now fully developed — so get excited, because some seriously sweet smiles and expressions are in the near future. (Once you get past that whole screaming through labor thing, of course.) And speaking of your baby’s future sound effects, their lungs are now ready to breathe air.
While your baby is chilling in your womb, they’re keeping busy by blinking, moving from side to side, inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid, and even sucking their thumb.
Your Symptoms and Health at Week 37 Pregnant
Your Cervix Will Begin To Dilate
Even though you’re probably still several weeks from going into labor, your body is gearing up for the big moment. This means that your cervix will start to dilate and efface. Throughout your pregnancy, a mucus plug has blocked the opening of your cervix in order to prevent bacteria from entering the uterus.
At week 37, your body will pass the mucus plug, which is a sign that your cervix is dilating in preparation to give birth. The dilation process is slow and passing the mucus plug shouldn’t be taken as a sign that it’s time to pack your bags and book it to the hospital. In reality, you could still be days or weeks away from giving birth.
You may have already experienced Braxton Hicks contractions, (or “practice contractions”), which are contractions that occur before actual labor. A week 37 pregnancy symptom brings false alarms to the next level and it’s aptly called “false labor.”
While Braxton Hicks contractions are typically painless and infrequent, false labor can deceptively feel like the real thing — especially because it’s often painful. The contractions that accompany false labor are unpredictable and come at irregular intervals; when you’re truly in labor, contractions come more regularly and get closer and closer together.
A good way to differentiate between false labor and real labor is by changing positions. If the cramping in your abdomen and lower back doesn’t go away when you do this, it’s likely you’re going into labor. But if you lay down (which, you know, might not be your first instinct when you think your baby is about to enter the world) and the cramping goes away, you can rest assured it was false labor. But, of course, don’t be afraid to call your doctor if you have any lingering concerns or doubts.
Now that your baby’s head has moved lower down into your pelvis in preparation for birth, they’re pressing directly into your pelvis, hips, and bladder — and this pressure can cause discomfort and pain.
Pain in the pelvis and lower back is a common symptom in the ninth month of pregnancy; 80 percent of women experience it. Although you likely won’t get complete relief, you can alleviate some of the pain by trying a pregnancy sling, band, or belt that’s designed to take some of the pressure off your back and pelvis.
For a lot of twin mothers, week 37 is either the last week of pregnancy or the week of delivery. As your doctor has probably informed you, twins usually arrive two to four weeks earlier than singletons. This is either because your bump swells bigger sooner and triggers contractions, or because your doctor feels it’s the safest time. By now, you should pretty much be off your feet and resting all day long.
You’ll unknowingly experience dilation and effacement on the week you give birth (or even a little before). This is when your cervix slowly opens up and thins out, and it continues through labour to prepare for the arrival of your babies.
When your water breaks, it will either feel like a slow trickle or a gush of water. It can be easy to mistake a little urine leak for your water breaking, but as this fluid doesn’t have a scent, you should soon be able to tell the difference. Once you know it’s definitely your water breaking, make note of the time and start timing contractions.
At the start of labour, contractions usually last for 30-60 seconds with 5-20 minute breaks in between. They’ll later get more painful and last 45-60 seconds with breaks between them shortening to 3-5 minutes. You’re officially in labour, so get to the hospital!
As overwhelming and/or scary as things may be, your doctors and nurses will be there to monitor you and the twins every step of the way. You’ve made it this far, it’s just one last push (ahem) to meet your little ones!
The contents of this article have been medically reviewed by Ruth A. Tessler, M.D. in July, 2019.
Written by Caitlin Flynn.
Follow Preggo Nancy’s pregnancy journey week-by-week and share in her joy, her symptoms, and even her pregnancy cravings.