37 Weeks Pregnant

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 [1], but babies born at week 37 have excellent survival rates without any long term complications [2]. The longer your baby remains in the womb, the more time his lungs and brain gets to mature fully.

37 weeks pregnant: baby development

Fat development

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 [3].

37 Weeks Pregnant Picture

37 Weeks Pregnant Picture

Preparation for birth

By the 37th week, the umbilical cord begins to pass antibodies to the baby to prepare him for delivery [4]. These antibodies are stocked by your baby to help him fight various germs and diseases once he enters the world outside the womb.

Motor coordination development

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 [5]. Shining a bright light might induce your baby to respond by turning toward it.

How big is your baby?

Almost as big as a standard bunch of Swiss chard, your baby has grown around 19 inches (42.26 cm) in size [5], weighing about 6.30 pounds (2.85 kg) by week 37 [7].

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 [3]. Boys tend to be heavier than girls at birth [5]. The head, shoulders, abdomen and hips of your baby are of the same circumference at the time of delivery [3] to make it easier for him to pass through the birth canal.

Pregnancy week 37: fetal movement, birth position and breech baby

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 [8].

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 [9]. 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 [10]. A successful ECV may allow you to have a natural vaginal birth while failure to turn the baby leads to a c-section delivery [11].

37 weeks pregnant: body changes and weight gain

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 [8]. The symptoms of indigestion and heartburn might ease a little bit as well [12]. It also alters your center of gravity to some extent making you clumsier than usual [13].

37 weeks pregnant with twins

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 [14]. 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 [15].

37 weeks pregnant tests and ultrasound

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 [16].

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 [17].

37 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound Picture

37 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound Picture

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.

37 Weeks Pregnant 3D Ultrasound Picture

37 Weeks Pregnant 3D Ultrasound Picture

Pregnancy week 37 signs and symptoms

  • Pelvic pain
  • Braxton Hicks contraction [18]
  • Round ligament pain
  • Pressure and discomfort in the lower abdomen making it difficult to walk around [19]
  • Leg cramps
  • Joint (jaws, hips, knees) and back pain
  • Edema or swelling of the extremities [20]
  • Headaches, hot flashes and sore throat
  • Restless leg syndrome and insomnia
  • Itchy skin
  • Stretch marks
  • Constipation
  • Frequent urination (due to the uterus putting additional pressure on the bladder) [21]
  • Varicose veins and hemorrhoids
  • Emotional changes and depression
  • Pregnancy brain [3]

Early signs of labor

Watch out for the following symptoms, especially if you are carrying multiples, as they might indicate the start of labor:

  • Lots of pressure in the pelvic area
  • Having contractions that get more frequent over time (over four contractions in an hour) [22]
  • Menstrual-like cramps
  • Throbbing lower back pain
  • Bleeding/spotting
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Brownish or bloody mucus discharge or losing the mucus plug (bloody show) [3]
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea or increased bowel movement
  • Leaking a clear watery fluid (might be amniotic fluid) [23]

When to call the doctor

  • Lack of fetal movement over a period of 2-4 hours
  • Having the above mentioned signs of preterm labor
  • Persistent headache, tiredness and lightheadedness accompanied by sudden changes in vision, upper abdominal pain, feeling out of breath and sudden swelling of the face and hands (might indicate high blood pressure or preeclampsia) [24]
  • Extreme fatigue and dizziness along with excessive thirst, dry mouth, shortness of breath, increased urgency to urinate and recurring urinary tract infections (might indicate gestational diabetes) [25]
  • Unilateral swelling or one foot or ankle more swollen than the other (might indicate a blood clotting disorder)
  • Severe itching, especially of the hands and feet that cannot be treated with any of the usual remedies (might indicate the liver disease obstetric cholestasis) [26]
  • Pain and burning during urination with other symptoms such as abdominal or back pain, cloudy urine, thick white or greenish yellow jelly-like discharge with or without a distinct smell, fever, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea (might indicate an infectious condition like UTI [27] or a kidney/yeast infection [28])

Tips for a healthy pregnancy and baby

  • Finding out as much as possible about labor and delivery as well as the ways to deal with the pain during labor as it will allow you to decide how you would like to give birth [26]
  • Doing prenatal yoga or light exercises, such as swimming or going for a wall, to manage the aches and pains related to carrying the baby; but make sure never to push yourself too far as it might be harmful for you both [20]
  • Drinking lots of fluid and avoiding caffeine as much as possible as it helps to manage the symptoms of leg cramps and sleeplessness [19]
  • Having frequent, light meals instead of three large ones as it helps with your digestion, reliving the symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux
  • Having your dinner at least one hour before bedtime so the digestion can complete soon, allowing you to have a good night’s rest [21]
  • Consulting your doctor before considering any natural measures, such as castor oil, to try and induce labor


  1. http://www.babycenter.com/6_your-pregnancy-37-weeks_1126.bc
  2. http://www.birth.com.au/premature-baby/survival-of-preterm-babies-gestation?view=full#.VDJAmGeSxvA
  3. http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/week-by-week/week-37.aspx
  4. http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/week-by-week/baby-development/#page=37
  5. http://kidshealth.org/parent/pregnancy_center/pregnancy_calendar/week37.html
  6. http://www.babycenter.com/slideshow-baby-size?slideNumber=35
  7. http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/week-by-week/how-big-is-your-baby-this-week/#page=36
  8. http://www.babycentre.co.uk/x543054/when-should-my-babys-head-engage
  9. http://americanpregnancy.org/week-by-week/37-weeks-pregnant/
  10. http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/pregnancy-health/complications/breech-baby.aspx
  11. http://www.webmd.com/baby/external-cephalic-version-version-for-breech-position
  12. http://www.nct.org.uk/pregnancy/37weeks
  13. http://www.pampers.co.uk/37-weeks-pregnant-pregnancy-calendar
  14. http://www.babycentre.co.uk/x1017870/will-my-twins-be-born-prematurely
  15. http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/twins-and-multiples/giving-birth/your-tentative-timetable.aspx
  16. http://www.pampers.com/diapers/37-weeks-pregnant
  17. http://www.babycenter.com/0_group-b-streptococcus-screening_1647.bc
  18. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy/art-20046767
  19. http://pregnant.thebump.com/pregnancy-week-by-week/37-weeks-pregnant.aspx
  20. http://www.parenting.com/article/third-trimester-symptoms?page=0
  21. http://similac.com/pregnancy/37-weeks-pregnant
  22. http://www.babycenter.com/0_preterm-labor-and-birth_1055.bc
  23. http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/premature-labor/
  24. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/resources/heart/hbp-pregnancy.htm
  25. http://www.bupa.co.uk/individuals/health-information/directory/g/diabetes-in-pregnancy#textBlock200057
  26. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pregnancy-weeks-37-38-39-40.aspx#close
  27. http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/urinary-tract-infections-during-pregnancy/
  28. http://www.everydayhealth.com/yeast-infection/ [/ref]