You are now well into the ninth month of your pregnancy with your due date approaching fast. Your baby will not be considered full term until your reach the 39th week , but babies born at week 37 have excellent survival rates without any long term complications . The longer your baby remains in the womb, the more time his lungs and brain gets to mature fully.
The fat development continues with small dimples becoming visible in those little elbows, knees and shoulders while the folds and creases of the hips, neck and wrists are also becoming more prominent .
By the 37th week, the umbilical cord begins to pass antibodies to the baby to prepare him for delivery . These antibodies are stocked by your baby to help him fight various germs and diseases once he enters the world outside the womb.
He is perfecting his motor coordination in preparation for the day of delivery, now being able to grasp objects (like the umbilical cord) with those tiny fingers . Shining a bright light might induce your baby to respond by turning toward it.
Almost as big as a standard bunch of Swiss chard, your baby has grown around 19 inches (42.26 cm) in size , weighing about 6.30 pounds (2.85 kg) by week 37 .
He is gaining weight more slowly during these last weeks of the third trimester – only around 0.5 pound (226.8 gm) in a week or 0.5 ounce a day . Boys tend to be heavier than girls at birth . The head, shoulders, abdomen and hips of your baby are of the same circumference at the time of delivery  to make it easier for him to pass through the birth canal.
By the 37th week, your baby will start moving down your pelvis so his head can engage to be ready for birth. It is normal for babies to engage between weeks 32 and 36, especially in first time pregnancies. However, it is also normal for babies to engage only after the labor starts .
Those remaining in a feet down position in these later stages are referred to as breech babies, with 1 in every 25 full term babies being breech . There are certain ways to manually turn a baby in a breech or transverse (lying sideways) position, even in these final weeks. Your doctor might perform an external cephalic version or ECV that involves applying pressure on certain points to make the baby turn into position . A successful ECV may allow you to have a natural vaginal birth while failure to turn the baby leads to a c-section delivery .
The baby moving down the pelvis means there is more space in the upper part of your abdomen for the stomach, lungs, ribs and diaphragm to stretch a little, increasing your appetite to some extent, and enabling you to breathe more comfortably, relieving the chest pain . The symptoms of indigestion and heartburn might ease a little bit as well . It also alters your center of gravity to some extent making you clumsier than usual .
Reaching the 37th week is an important landmark when carrying twins as a twin pregnancy is considered full term at the end of this week . Most twins arrive early, usually between weeks 32 and 37, having a significant survival rate with proper medical assistance. In case your twin pregnancy continues even after the 37th week, your doctor might recommend inducing labor in week 38 to prevent any possible complications .
A pelvic exam is performed during every prenatal visit to assess your baby’s position and to check for opening (dilation) or thinning (effacing) of your cervix as well as any other signs of labor. Many women start dilating or effacing weeks before the actual labor starts, while it is also normal to have no such symptoms until the day of delivery .
Your doctor will also perform the Group B strep or GBS screening, if it has not already been done, to check if you are carrying the bacteria. Those with positive GBS results receive antibiotic treatment during labor .
An ultrasound performed this week will show your baby moving and breathing, looking almost like how he will on the day of delivery. Although ultrasounds are not routinely performed in week 37, they may be necessary to guide the doctor in case you need an ECV.
Watch out for the following symptoms, especially if you are carrying multiples, as they might indicate the start of labor:
Published on October 11th 2014 by Pregmed Editorial Team.
Article was last reviewed on 11th October 2014.