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37 weeks pregnant


Your baby at 37 weeks

Baby at 37 weeks pregnant

Congratulations. Your baby has officially reached term and if she was born today you might not be ready but she will be. She is no longer a premature baby.

  • The distance around her head and stomach at 37 weeks will be the same. She will be becoming rounder.
  • If your baby is a boy, his testes will have descended into his scrotum. Only about 3% of boys do not have testes in their scrotums at birth.
  • Most of your baby's lanugo hair has gone, falling into the amniotic fluid where your baby swallows it and turns it into meconium (her first bowel movement).
  • Her face is fully developed. She has eyelashes and eyebrows and may, or may not, have up to 5cm of hair.
  • Her movements will be smaller because she has less room but you should still feel as many of them. Lots of women think their babies move less often later in pregnancy but they don't. No one knows exactly how you should measure your baby's movements as no studies have compared not counting movements with counting them (for obvious reasons, it wouldn't be ethical). If you do think your baby is moving less often you shouldn't ignore it. The overwhelming majority of women will have healthy babies but if you are worried at all drink some cold water and lie down and see if you can feel your baby move. If you're not sure, ring your doctor or midwife. No one knows how much of an emergency it is but you shouldn't wait. It can be helpful to count 10 movements, which can include twists and turns and jabs. Your baby should usually move this much in two hours. About 5-10% of women feel their baby is moving less often at some time in their pregnancy.  

Your body at 37 weeks pregnant

  • Antenatal perineal massage It's not for everyone but antenatal perineal massage may help the tissues around your vagina recover faster from giving birth. The evidence is not terribly strong so you don't need to feel guilty if you don't do it. The perineum sits between your vagina and anus. It's the floor of the pelvic floor, where the two sides of the hammock of muscles meet in the middle. If you tear or stretch it (the latter being inevitable) you can leak from your bladder, bowels and have pain when you have sex.

    If you massage this area you may be able to make it more elastic, increase blood flow to the perineum and make it stretchier for when your baby comes out. There is some evidence that it reduces episiotomies (where your perineum is cut to help the baby out) and pain after giving birth. 

    It may feel like you are your own gynaecologist at first but in time it gets easier and you will relax. You can start from 34 weeks. Don't massage if you have herpes or thrush as they'll get spread around too. 
  • How to do perineal massage
    • Have a bath then sit on your bed, pillows behind you, knees up and supported.
    • Put some unperfumed lubricant on your thumbs and forefingers. Place your thumbs on and just within the back wall of your vagina - rest one or both of your forefingers on your buttocks.
    • Press down a bit towards the rectum and move the thumbs up and out in a U motion.
    • Try to do fve minutes at a time. The evidence says you can do it for as little as twice a week from 35 weeks onwards.
  • Swelling As you come to the end of your pregnancy it is almost impossible not to get some swelling in your fingers, feet and lower legs, especially if it's hot. Your blood volume, which increased with the demands of carrying and nutritionally supporting a baby, means that fluid seeps out of the blood vessels into the surrounding tissues and pools there for a while. Everything will be back to normal after your baby is born but until then you may need new shoes. If you also have headaches and blurred vision these can be a sign of pre-eclampsia, which needs urgent treatment. So if your swelling has any other symptoms you should see your doctor, pronto.
  • Your cervix is getting ready It gets softer and gets thinner and begins to dilate and open gradually. When this happens a plug of mucus, which acts as a seal, is usually released. This is called a show. It does not mean that the baby is about to appear, but it does mean you should at least pack your bag.
  • Skin You may feel you are looking a bit ropey and that bloom has dried up leaving your skin flaky. You may have black shadows under your eyes from getting up for the toilet all night. But these will go when you have the baby.



Pregnancy Encyclopedia book coverIllustrations taken from The Pregnancy Encyclopedia, £25, published by DK.

Disclaimer: The information in the pregnancy calendar is for general information and is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or antenatal team. Not all babies develop at the same time and in the same way, so this week-by-week guide may not always match your own experience. If you have any worries, consult your antenatal team or GP.

Last updated: 3 months ago