At 37 weeks, a pregnancy is full term--if the baby is born now, it will not be premature. Ideally, however, the pregnancy will continue until 40 weeks. This final stage of the pregnancy may be difficult. The cumulative weight gain may make the mother uncomfortable, even while sitting or lying down. She may feel quite ready to finally meet her baby. At this point she visits her doctor or midwife weekly.
About the Baby
It may alarm the mother when she feels her baby slow down this week. In most cases, there is nothing wrong with the baby: There simply is not much room to move. She should continue to do her fetal kick counts as directed by her doctor or midwife. At 37 weeks, the baby usually weighs around six pounds and is approximately 18 inches long. The brain, heart and lungs develop rapidly in this final stretch. The baby is now covered in vernix, a white protective coating that is present until the first bath, according to Month by Month.
About Mother's Body
Aches abound at 37 weeks. The lower back, abdomen, uterus and cervix all feel the considerable weight of the fetus. Some mothers feel the baby "drop" (move into station for impending labor) this week; for others it happens later. When this happens there is even more pressure on the bladder, increasing the need to urinate. It is also difficult to sleep at night. As the body readies itself for delivery, levels of elastin, the protein responsible for stretchiness, increase. The breasts produce more colostrum, baby's first milk. Braxton Hicks contractions (uterine contractions that do not open the cervix) prepare the body for real contractions, according to Your Pregnancy, 37 Weeks.
About Mother's Mind
Many mothers feel the urge to "nest" this week and during the next couple of weeks, according to Nesting. Despite considerable discomfort, they experience bursts of energy that allow them to prepare and freeze meals, do laundry, and scrub the house, perhaps an evolutionary response to impending labor. This week some mothers may wonder if they are going to be pregnant forever. Of course, the answer is no.
Prepare for Labor
Now is not the time to stop exercising, according to Labor of Love. Walks and prenatal yoga are great ways to keep the body supple and to maintain the stamina needed for labor. When the body is ready, exercise can also be a natural aid to induction of labor. A mother can use the time to meditate and practice some of the deep breathing that will get her through labor.
Some mothers may be so eager for pregnancy to be over by week 37 that they want to discuss labor induction with their obstetricians. There is a belief that a smaller baby makes labor more manageable. However, according to The Case against Inducing Labor, increasing numbers of sources suggest that induction is dangerous, for both mother and baby. Induction has been linked to higher rates of cesarean section, fetal distress and even autism. It is best to wait until the body is ready to birth. At 37 weeks, a woman can rest assured that it will happen soon.