At 37 weeks gestation, your baby is about 18 inches long and 6 or 7 pounds -- although your belly may look as if it is much larger, according to the American Pregnancy Association. This can complicate even everyday activities, including climbing the stairs. While the activity can be a good way to build muscle and enhance your cardiovascular level prior to giving birth, it's important to take a few precautions to prevent falls and injury.
In your 37th week of pregnancy, you are in the home stretch. Your baby has dropped lower into your pelvis, which may make it easier for you to breathe, according to the California Pacific Medical Center. However, the added weight from your almost full-term baby can make climbing the stairs difficult. To ensure you can breathe at a normal rate, slow down slightly when climbing the stairs.
One reason you risk falling while climbing the stairs is because it's difficult to see your feet under your stomach while you climb. This can cause you to misjudge the location of the steps, which can lead to falls. Even if you are in your own home, take caution when climbing up the stairs and always hold on to a handrail to provide added support. Because your pregnancy changes your center of gravity and balance levels, the handrail can provide added support. Refrain from carrying anything as you climb because this also can affect your balance.
A study published in the American Heart Association's journal "Hypertension," conducted at the Center for Perinatal Studies at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, found that women who engaged in stair climbing during pregnancy experienced a reduced risk for preeclampsia, a condition that causes pregnant women to experience high blood pressure. The researchers studied how many flights of stairs an expectant mother climbed during her pregnancy and determined her preeclampsia risk as a result. The study found even inactive pregnant women experienced a 29 percent reduced risk for preeclampsia if they climbed between one and four flights of stairs per day.
While physical activity is typically recommended for pregnant moms, some physicians may recommend bed rest or limiting activity in the final weeks of pregnancy. If this recommendation has been made, you might need to avoid climbing stairs. If a situation arises that you should climb the stairs, take your time as you do so. Hold onto the railing and move one stair at a time. If possible, have a trusted friend or family climb with you for support.
- BabyCenter: Your Pregnancy: 37 Weeks
- American Pregnancy Association: 37th Week of Pregnancy
- American Heart Association: Recreational Physical Activity During Pregnancy and Risk of Preeclampsia
- Patient.co.uk: Pregnancy and Physical Activity
- California Pacific Medical Center: Common Discomforts of Pregnancy
- Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation: Preventing Falls on Stairs