37 Weeks Pregnant
Time for some good clean fun? Around week 37 of pregnancy, many moms-to-be find themselves organizing cupboards and scrubbing floors. That’s the phenomenon people lovingly refer to as “nesting.” It may be instinctual—your body senses baby will be here really soon. After all, you’re 37 weeks pregnant, which is considered “early term,” meaning baby is almost ready. Nesting can also be your brain’s way of trying to make sure you’re prepared for, well, as much as you can be prepared for. Having a baby-friendly pad definitely gives you an edge on this whole new parent thing. At least that’s one thing you can control!
At 37 weeks pregnant, baby is the size of a head of romaine lettuce. Baby measures about 19.1 inches. Average baby weight at 37 weeks is 6.3 pounds, and baby is gaining about half an ounce each day.
When you’re 37 weeks pregnant, you’re nine months pregnant. You’ve got just three weeks until your due date.
At 37 weeks pregnant, symptoms can be confused with signs of labor. Here’s what you might be feeling this week:
- Heartburn. Baby continues to put pressure on your digestive system as you near your due date. Avoid spicy foods and drink plenty of water to prevent heartburn.
- Spotting. A little bit of spotting is normal at week 37 of pregnancy—remember, your cervix is extra sensitive while you’re pregnant, so sex can irritate it and make it bleed. But call your doctor if it’s more than just a few drops of blood. Vaginal bleeding could be a sign of a problem with the placenta (such as placental abruption) and it’s important to seek treatment right away. Also, don’t confuse spotting or bleeding with the “bloody show,” a discharge tinged with blood that’s a totally harmless sign your cervix is changing to prep for delivery.
- Stretch marks. Sorry, but new stretchies might appear on your 37 weeks pregnant belly and each week from here on out. Keep that body oil on hand and slather it on when you can. Also, keep drinking lots of water, even though you’re heading to the bathroom, oh, every two minutes.
- Abdominal pressure. If baby has dropped down into your pelvis in anticipation of labor, they’re putting increased pressure on your abdomen, which might make you feel some new aches and pains down below—and a greater urge to pee too!
- Trouble sleeping. It’s normal to be up in the middle of the night in late pregnancy. Some strategies for getting more ZZZs: Get plenty of light exercise during the day, drink lots of water—except right before bedtime—and limit your caffeine intake.
- Contractions. At 37 weeks, cramping or contractions are to be expected. After all, you’re going to have a baby soon—your body is ramping up! You may find that your contractions go away if you sit or lie down. That means they’re Braxton Hicks, not real labor contractions.
- Nausea. An upset stomach is pretty typical almost any time during pregnancy. But now that you’re so close to your due date, it could be a sign you’ll go into labor soon. (Whoa!) If your nausea is severe—if you’re vomiting, especially—tell your OB so they can rule out illness or a pregnancy complication such as HELLP or preeclampsia.
Are you 37 weeks pregnant with twins? About 57 percent of twins are born before pregnancy week 37, so if your twosome is still hanging in there, you’re in the minority among moms of multiples. And while you’re probably feeling super uncomfortable and really antsy to get those babies out, you’re doing a really good thing for their health by sticking it out.
What if I can barely walk at 37 weeks pregnant?
We get it—with the pressure on your belly and pelvis, the swollen feet and the overall fatigue, the farthest you want to walk may be the trip to your couch so you can lie down. But unless your doctor advises against it, take a stroll around the block. Exercise helps with so many things in the third trimester—including sleep, body aches and swelling—and walking is one of the best forms of physical activity because it’s gentle on your body.
When you’re 37 weeks pregnant, it’s the perfect time to brush up on the signs of labor. Each day, your likelihood of going into labor goes up, and who wants to be stuck in a car giving birth because they waited too long to get to the hospital? (We don’t mean to scare you—the chances you’ll give birth in a car are low. We just want you to be prepared.)
The various signs of labor tend to fall into two categories—those that mean it’s coming soon and those that mean it’s happening now.
You’ll go into labor soon if you notice these signs of labor at 37 weeks (though we can’t say how soon—every pregnancy is different. Sorry!):
- Mucus plug and/or bloody show. You may see a bit of thick mucus come out onto your underwear, either in one big glob or little by little. This is the mucus plug, which has been protecting your cervix all along. As your cervix dilates, the mucus plug is released to make way for baby. The mucus plug may or may not have a tinge of blood in it—if it does, that’s the “ bloody show.”
- Nausea. Some women swear they start to feel sick to their stomach just before labor begins. So at 37 weeks pregnant, nausea might mean baby is coming soon.
- Diarrhea. When you’re 37 weeks pregnant, diarrhea could just be diarrhea or it could mean impending labor. That’s because as your hormones change to prep for delivery, they can also stimulate your bowels. Below are the signs labor is here. It’s time to call your OB right away:
- Water breaking. If you feel water leaking out, either in a gush or a trickle, that’s probably amniotic fluid. Most women go into labor within 12 hours of their water breaking.
- Regular contractions. Has your 37 weeks pregnant belly been tightening on the reg? If the contractions keep repeating and they seem to be coming more and more frequently, you’re in labor. As your uterus contracts, it’s dilating your cervix so baby can pass through at delivery. If this is your first pregnancy, you may have regular contractions for several hours before you go into what’s known as “ active labor”—that’s when contractions get really painful and will require all your attention. (And that’s when you should be at the hospital!)
- Back pain. Ah, the dreaded “back labor.” Sometimes baby is positioned in a way that puts extra pressure on Mom’s spine. If you get constant back pain that’s more severe than any you’ve had so far in pregnancy, or the pain radiates from your abdomen to your back (or vice versa), it could mean you’re in labor.
Your doctor will tell you at what point to get your 37 weeks pregnant belly to the hospital. If your water has broken, your doctor could advise that you be admitted right away, because you may need to be monitored for infection. If you’re having contractions but your water hasn’t broken, they’ll probably need to happen consistently five minutes or less apart before many hospitals will admit you—so the farther away you are, the sooner you’ll need to leave your home.
Another week or two in your belly will lower the risks of potential health problems for baby. You’re probably impatient to finally see and hold baby in your arms, but don’t be tempted to schedule an early induction (unless your doctor is advising it) or iattempt to induce labor on your own with a home remedy. If you go into labor naturally, that’s totally cool, but there’s no need to rush things. We promise it will be worth the wait!
Baby is practicing some cool new skills: inhaling, exhaling, sucking, gripping and blinking. In less cute news, baby is getting the first sticky poop (called meconium) ready for their first diaper.
A 37-week ultrasound might be performed as part of a biophysical profile. The profile is designed to gauge baby’s well-being, using ultrasound and the results of a non-stress test.
For moms who are 37 weeks pregnant with twins, your doctor might talk to you about induction or c-section (depending on your medical history and babies’ statuses). Some doctors recommend this happen at 38 weeks pregnant with twins, so you could be meeting your babies in just a week!
No matter how or when you’re going to deliver your baby (or babies!), try not to get too impatient waiting. Remind yourself that it could be any day now—or it could be a few weeks. If you’re feeling antsy, go find something else to clean. (Think you’ve got everything? Look behind the fridge.)
Is my baby developed at 37 weeks?
While you’re so close to the finish line, baby is still doing some important work in your belly. Their circulatory and musculoskeletal systems are done developing, but their lungs, brain and nervous system are still getting some last-minute touch-ups. A week or two can make a big difference!
Quench your thirst
Make sure you drink plenty of water, because dehydration can make your uterus contract, causing discomfort. And remember, it also helps with other 37 weeks pregnant symptoms like heartburn.
Get some ginger
Feeling queasy? A bit of ginger might snap you out of it. Make your own tea with fresh ginger and boiling water, sip on ginger ale or nibble on crystallized ginger, either on its own or sprinkled on top of yogurt and berries. If the nausea is really bad, ask your doctor to recommend a ginger supplement. Splurging on a ginger cookie may work too!
Slather on the hyaluronic acid
This pregnancy-safe, moisturizing powerhouse may help improve the appearance of stretch marks, so find a cream or oil that includes it in the ingredient list. (And the higher up it is on that list, the more hyaluronic acid there is in the product.) You’ve got to apply it every day to see potential results and take the time to massage it into your belly—which will feel sooooo good if you’ve got dry, itchy skin or abdominal pressure!
Put your partner to work
If you’re in nesting mode, you want to get everything done, but you can’t tackle it on your own. Create a to-do list with your partner and divvy up the tasks. You’ll be ready for baby in no time!
Reminders for the week:
Medical content was reviewed November 2020 by Sherry A. Ross, MD, an ob-gyn and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, and author of she-ology and she-ology, the she-quel: let’s continue the conversation.