Your baby is now the size of a stalk of Swiss chard in length, measuring between nineteen (19) and twenty-one (21) inches from head to heel and weighing about six and one-third (6.3) pounds. You are in your ninth month of pregnancy. Your pregnancy is now considered full term.
Although your due date is still three weeks away, your baby is considered full term by week 37 of pregnancy. If your baby were born this week, the lungs are mature enough to function outside the womb without any assistance. Your baby will continue to gain a little over a pound over the next few weeks. The skin is now smooth and pink, ruddy red, or brownish. Your baby continues to practice skills such as breathing, swallowing, sucking, and blinking that will be necessary for life outside of the womb. Most babies have moved into the head down position in preparation for birth by now, but try not to worry if your baby is still breech. Some stubborn babies will continue to flip flop right up until birth. Although your health care provider might suggest an automatic cesarean section for a breech baby, you have the right to decline and wait until labor progresses before making the decision.
Because your baby is pretty much done growing, your uterus will most likely remain the same size and pressed firmly into your ribs between week 37 of pregnancy and the time that you give birth. You should have gained between twenty-five and thirty-five pounds. Your internal organs are as cramped as possible as your full term baby takes up the majority of space inside your abdomen. You may be suffering from heartburn, indigestion, flatulence, and constipation. After your baby drops into your pelvis, you may find that you need to urinate more frequently. However, you should be able to waddle to the bathroom more easily because less pressure on the lungs means that you will be able to breathe more easily. You may be exhausted but may have trouble sleeping because getting comfortable is more difficult with a protruding belly.
During week 37 of pregnancy, you may begin noticing some signs that labor is approaching. Braxton Hicks contractions may occur more frequently and may last longer. Your vaginal discharge may also change or increase. Many expectant women report seeing bloody show, mucus tinged with a tiny amount of blood, in the toilet or in their underwear. If you begin having contractions that are similar to menstrual cramps or if your water breaks, contact your health care provider because you are most likely in labor. Also contact your health care provider if you experience heavy bleeding or spotting or any other unusual symptoms. Other symptoms during week 37 of pregnancy include nesting behavior, odd dreams, nervousness or anxiety, forgetfulness, clumsiness, stretch marks, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, backaches, leg cramps, mild swelling of the feet and ankles, bloating, headaches, loose joints, pelvic pressure and discomfort, cervical dilation or effacement, and a protruding belly button.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not meant to replace the professional medical advice of your health care provider.
37 weeks pregnant: http://www.babyzone.com/pregnancy-week-by-week/37-weeks-pregnant_70911
Curtis, Glade B. & Judith Schuler. 2011. Your pregnancy week by week. 7th edn. Philadelphia: Running Press.
Stone, Joanne & Keith Eddleman, eds. 2003. The pregnancy bible: Your complete guide to pregnancy and early parenthood. Willowdale, Ontario: Firefly Books.
Your pregnancy: 37 weeks: http://www.babycenter.com/6_your-pregnancy-37-weeks_1126.bc
Your pregnancy week by week: Weeks 35-40: http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/your-pregnancy-week-by-week-weeks-35-40
Baby Bump at 37 Weeks: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sheila_37_weeks.jpg
Swiss Chard: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SwissChard.jpg