Pregnancy Tracker: Week 37

Pregnancy Tracker: Week 37




At 37 weeks pregnant, your baby measures about 48cm in length, which is almost the correct birth length, and weighs about 3kg. Baby will continue to pack on weight between now and delivery as he still needs to fatten up before birth.

Your baby is beautifully formed, with most systems fully developed, although a bit of refinement still needs to take place. What remains now is to play the waiting game until you go into labour, as another two or three weeks in the uterus is valuable time for lung development and fat stores.

The lungs have probably matured sufficiently to support independent breathing should baby be born now, although another few weeks would be advantageous. Important life-saving skills like sucking and swallowing are being practiced, and baby is drinking little sips of amniotic fluid which then flows out as urine.

The digestive system has started producing meconium, a sticky green-black substance that forms the baby’s first poop after birth. In most cases a baby does not have a bowl movement while still inside the uterus, but only at birth or soon after.

The musculoskeletal and circulatory systems are developed but the nervous system and brain still need refining and another week or two in the uterus will benefit baby greatly.

Your baby’s little hands can grip firmly, while the fingers are becoming more dexterous and can grab toes, ears, and nose. You will soon be treated to this grasp instinct as babies retain the reflex until about 5 or 6 months after birth.

Your baby may be giving strong hiccups now, and you could be confused between them and baby kicks. They differ in that hiccups typically have a regular pattern or rhythm and feel like little jumps or jerks that pulse in the same area of your abdomen and continue for a few minutes. Kicks are not usually rhythmic and can occur all over your tummy.

Remember to count the kicks to ensure that a regular pattern of movement is happening because even though baby has less space to move about in, you should still feel strong activity.

Hair follicles developed months ago, and some babies are born with a full head of hair, while others sport nothing more than a soft fuzz, and some are bald altogether. The colour of hair may be different to what you expected, but it often falls out and a different colour regrows soon after birth. The body hair, lanugo, has almost completely disappeared by this stage.

Your body and your symptoms at 37 weeks pregnant


Your cervix is extremely sensitive during pregnancy, and especially in the last few weeks, and you may notice a small amount of spotting, which is normal and nothing to worry about. It could mean that the little blood vessels of the cervix are rupturing as dilation occurs. However, if you notice a lot of bleeding, call your healthcare provider immediately as this could be a sign of something serious like placental abruption.

Stretch marks

New marks might appear between now and the end of pregnancy as your abdomen is stretched to such an extent that little tears in the soft tissue just under the skin occur. Massaging in oil or lotion may help, although if you are prone to getting these marks, there is not much to be done to prevent them. Be comforted in knowing that they will fade with time.


This is quite a common symptom at any time during pregnancy, but if you suddenly feel nauseous at this stage, it could be a sign that you will soon be going into labour. If you experience severe nausea, or you start vomiting, let your healthcare provider know as it can sometimes be a sign of complications such as pre-eclampsia or HELLP.

What is HELLP, you say? The long and complicated name is hemolysis elevated liver enzymes and low platelets, and in simple terms it is when the liver is not functioning properly, resulting in an increased chance of bleeding as the platelet count is low.

Braxton Hicks

These contractions are possibly increasing in frequency. They should not be painful and should dissipate if you sit or lie down as they are usually triggered by physical activity. It is wise to keep an eye on them, and if they become strong or occur at regular intervals, contact your healthcare provider as you could be in early labour.

Pelvic pain

As baby’s head presses on the pelvis, hips, and bladder, you will feel discomfort in the pelvic area. Being fitted for and wearing a sling or preggie belt may help to support the weight of your abdomen and relieve pain in the back and pelvis. Try to rest as much as possible.

Mucus plug

The function of the mucus plug is to seal off the uterus to protect your baby from infection, and you could find that it becomes dislodged anytime between week 37 and labour as the cervix dilates in readiness for birth. This discharge and could be colourless, yellow, pink, or tinted with blood, which is then known as a ‘bloody show.’ If this happens before labour starts, you need to bring it to the attention of your doctor as you will be vulnerable to infection.

Preparing for birth

Even though your healthcare provider can give you a good estimate of your due date, you can’t possibly know exactly when your baby will make an appearance, so it is best to start getting prepared now.

As part of your weekly routine prenatal visits, your doctor will now start assessing you for a more precise delivery date. He will check how far your cervix has opened (dilated) and for the consistency of the cervix as a softness will develop the closer you are to labour. He will also check for the thinness of the cervix, as well as its position as it moves forward towards the front the as you approach your due date. Another check will be a measurement of the baby in relation to the pelvis. The lower down your baby lies in your abdomen, the closer to delivery you are. The process of baby descending and engaging can take place over a few weeks or within a day.

Perineal massaging is something you can do yourself to help prepare your body for birth, and to help avoid an episiotomy or tearing. The massaging action can gently stretch the perineum (area between vagina and anus). A pelvic floor therapist can assist by showing you how to do this.

Have you given thought to the assistance of a doula?

If you have never heard of a doula, now is a good time to learn all about what she can offer.

A doula is a non-medical person who has been professionally trained to provide practical and emotional support from pregnancy to postpartum.

A doula often falls into two categories, namely a birth doula or a postnatal doula, but many cover both phases. Once you have booked your doula, she would usually meet with you a few times during late pregnancy, and she would be on call for when you go into labour.

  • Birth doula

A birth doula would support you during labour and birth by offering information and suggestions on breathing, positioning, movement, and relaxation techniques. She will also advise you on choices of pain medication available and help you decide what you think is best for you. Many mums-to-be find that they require less pain relief medication when a doula is assisting them.

A birth doula is there to hold your hand, rub your back, assist you through breathing, or to do anything you require of her to ensure you have the kind of birth experience you anticipated.

The main function of the birth doula is to give comfort and support, and she would work alongside the midwife or ob/gyn, not in place of either of them. The doula would stay with you throughout the delivery, and until you are settled with your newborn.

  • Postnatal doula

A postnatal doula’s tasks vary greatly but the biggest benefit is in having someone knowledgeable in the care of a newborn baby who can support you and the rest of your family.

She may not necessarily look after the baby but can offer sound information on breastfeeding, bathing, and the general care of a newborn, as well as give support to the smooth running of the household, helping with older children, preparation of meals, or anything else that would relieve a new mum of tasks that might get in the way of her rest and recovery or bonding with her new baby.

The primary function of a doula is to provide reassuring, nurturing, comforting and continuous support to you when you are feeling most vulnerable.

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