Week 37 of Your Pregnancy

Pregnancy Week by Week: Week 37

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

At 37 weeks pregnant, you and your baby are officially considered "early term." Your baby will be putting the finishing touches on vital skills like sucking and swallowing while your body may be giving you signs that it's preparing for labor and delivery.

37 Weeks Pregnant Is How Many Months? 9 months and 1 week

Which Trimester? Third trimester

How Many Weeks to Go? 3 weeks

Your Baby's Development at 37 Weeks

At 37 weeks, a baby is almost 13 1/4 inches (33.8 centimeters) from the top of their head to the bottom of their buttocks (known as the crown-rump length), and baby's height is close to 19 inches (48 centimeters) from the top of their head to their heel (crown-heel length). This week, baby weighs about 6 1/2 pounds (2,966 grams).

At 37 weeks pregnant, your baby is about the length of a baby carrier
Verywell / Bailey Mariner 

Birth Weight and Length

The size-related numbers above are averages. At birth, your baby may be a little bigger or smaller than these measurements. The length (height) of a healthy newborn can range from 17 3/4 inches (45 centimeters) to nearly 22 inches (55 centimeters). Meanwhile, a healthy birth weight can range from 5 1/2 pounds (2,500 grams) to 10 pounds (4,500 grams).

Sucking and Swallowing

Your baby has been getting ready to take feedings after birth by practicing their sucking and swallowing skills for a few weeks. The coordination of sucking and swallowing is complete by 36 to 38 weeks.

Early Term

Human pregnancy lasts approximately 40 weeks. When the amount of time or term of pregnancy is complete, a baby is considered ready for birth. Pregnancy used to be considered "term" anywhere from 37 to 42 weeks. However, in 2012, experts redefined and expanded the definition. Deliveries at 37 weeks are now considered "early term" because a baby’s brain, lungs, and liver continue to develop during this time.

Explore a few of your baby's week 37 milestones in this interactive experience.

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How to Deal With Unwanted Pregnancy Advice

Your Common Symptoms This Week

At 37 weeks, your body is getting serious about preparing for birth in a number of ways.

Increase in Braxton-Hicks

In late-pregnancy, those practice contractions may be more noticeable and happening more often. The occasional tightening of the muscles of your uterus may be mild or strong and you may feel it as often as every 10 to 20 minutes.

Losing Your Mucus Plug

Way back in the first trimester, cervical mucus clumped together to plug up or seal your cervix to protect your pregnancy. Now, as early as a few weeks before labor, changes in your cervix can loosen that protective plug.

Part or all of the mucus plug may fall out. It can appear as a thick discharge tinged with brown or red streaks. When there's pink or red spotting along with the loss of the plug, it is known as the "bloody show." Of course, some women pass the plug without noticing it.

While losing the mucus plug is one sign your body is gearing up for labor, it doesn’t necessarily indicate that the big moment is right around the corner; it could be hours, days, or still weeks away. That said, if you do lose your plug now, tell your healthcare provider at your next prenatal appointment. Rest assured, your baby is not at increased risk for infection as a result of this.

Self-Care Tips

At this point in pregnancy, self-care should include balancing tying up loose ends and taking time for yourself since you'll soon be joined by a new addition.

Taking Time Off

While many working moms-to-be save the entirety of their family and medical leave for after baby arrives, others wish to take some time before birth as well.

What Experts Say

“While it’s certainly not possible for everyone, I do like to encourage patients to try and take some time off from work—even if it’s just a couple of half days, even if you’re feeling fine—at the end of pregnancy. This is really your last chance to grab some time for yourself before your baby changes your life.”

—Allison Hill, MD, OB/GYN

Nesting

Nesting in the third trimester of pregnancy typically means getting things ready and organized for your new arrival. It could include cleaning, last-minute preparations in the nursery, shopping, gathering the supplies you'll need once you're home with the baby, pre-cooking meals, or other preparations.

In animals, nesting is an instinct that kicks in to prepare their nests for birth and the safety of their young. In humans, there isn't good evidence to say the common behaviors we call "nesting" are a result of a biological urge. It may be more of an awareness that it's easier to get things done before there's a new baby to care for and it's helpful to be prepared for when you come home with a baby.

Know that your baby actually requires very little when you bring them home. If you have a car seat; a safe place for baby to sleep; diapers; wipes; a weeks’ worth of clean onesies; and an infant hat, you’re golden.

If you aren’t planning on breastfeeding, then add bottles and formula to the shortlist of must-haves, too. If needed, your partner or baby visitors can step in and get anything else you feel you need once your new baby arrives.

Your Week 37 Checklist

  • Work on your "nest" if you'd like, but don't over it.
  • Continue Kegel exercises and perineal massage.
  • Take some time for yourself before the baby arrives.
  • Make a list of last-minute labor and delivery questions.

Advice for Partners

While your pregnant partner is discussing her questions, concerns, and thoughts with you and her healthcare provider, don't hesitate to acknowledge your own delivery day anxieties as well.

Ask your own questions of your partner’s midwife or physician, seek the advice of experienced parents, and talk with your partner. It’s not uncommon for those in your position to worry about many of the same things as moms-to-be, like getting to the hospital or birthing center on time, or feeling nervous about witnessing the birth. Other common concerns include:

  • Being in the way
  • Not providing the "right" support
  • Not being a good advocate for your partner
  • Seeing your loved one in pain

Remember that whatever you are feeling is OK and natural, especially if this is your first child. Don't hesitate to discuss your feelings with your healthcare provider, partner, and other experienced family members.

At Your Doctor’s Office

You are used to the prenatal visit routine by now. You can expect to:

  • Step on the scale
  • Have your blood pressure taken
  • Provide a urine sample
  • Have an exam to check your body for swelling
  • Get a measurement of your fundal height
  • Listen to your baby's heartbeat
  • Have your provider feel outside your belly for the position of the baby
  • Discuss all your symptoms
  • Have a cervical examination to check for signs of impending labor
  • Have time to ask questions and get answers

Questions to Ask

Whether you are planning to have a Cesarean section or not, take this opportunity to talk with your healthcare provider about the what-ifs of this surgical procedure. After all, 32% of all deliveries in the United States wind up being via C-section, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—some planned, some not.

What Experts Say

“While some Cesareans are scheduled ahead of time because of concerns like placenta previa, breech or transverse presentation, or multiples, more often than not, determining whether a baby comes out vaginally or by C-section doesn’t happen until you are actually in labor."

—Allison Hill, MD, OB/GYN

Whether a C-section is part of your plan or not, ask your physician or midwife questions like:

  • What are the most common reasons you may recommend a C-section during labor?
  • Will I be able to watch my baby being born?
  • Can my partner be in the room?
  • Will both of my arms need to be strapped down during the procedure?
  • When can I hold my baby after a C-section?
  • How soon can I breastfeed after surgery?
  • What post-surgery pain medicine is given? Is it safe for my baby if I nurse?
  • How long does recovery usually take?
  • What will the C-section scar be like?

If you have scheduled a C-section and are certain that you do not want to get pregnant again, you may be considering tubal ligation (having your “tubes tied”). If so, be sure to talk to your provider about these plans; some women opt to get both procedures done at the same time, but advanced planning is necessary.

Upcoming Doctor’s Visits

Now that you've graduated to weekly prenatal visits, you'll be back in the office again next week.

If you haven't already, you can expect a screening for Group B strep, which is typically completed between week 36 and week 38.

If your pregnancy is considered high-risk, or if there's a concern for your health or your baby's health, the doctor may order additional testing. These tests can include:

Special Considerations

In special circumstances, this week might be accompanied by certain procedures like the removal of cervical cerclage or discussions of induction.

Chances of Childbirth This Week

According to research, the chances of delivering a baby between 37 and 38 weeks is 24% to 29%.

Removal of Cerclage

If you received a cervical cerclage early in your pregnancy, where a surgeon stitched around your cervix to help prevent preterm birth, this is the week when your healthcare provider will remove the stitches.

Removing the cerclage doesn't mean you'll immediately go into labor, so you may still have a little time. Studies show that only 11% of expecting moms deliver within 48 hours of the removal procedure. The average time from the removal of the cerclage to delivery is 14 days.

Induction of Labor

If there is a concern for your health or the health or your baby, your healthcare provider may recommend induction of labor. Induction of labor is when the doctor uses various interventions to get labor started before it happens naturally. Labor may be artificially brought on by:

  • Medication such as Pitocin, a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin
  • Puncturing the amniotic sac with a hook-like device, allowing fluid to release
  • Stripping the membranes, a procedure in which your provider uses their finger to separate the cervix from the amniotic sac without breaking it
  • Inserting a Foley catheter, where a balloon-like device is placed through the cervix and then expanded to dilate the cervix

A Word From Verywell

If you experience a small burst of "nesting" energy this week, use it wisely. Do your best to focus only on the most important items on your to-do list, leaving the rest to another time or, better yet, enlist your partner or a supportive friend or family member to help. Remember that it is equally, if not more, important to prioritize yourself during this final stretch of pregnancy.

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Article Sources
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Additional Reading
  • Allison Hill, MD. Email communication. October, November, 2017.