Pregnancy week by week:
What to expect Week 37-40

Pregnancy Week by Week: What to Expect Week 37-40

Weeks 37 to 40 are the last weeks of pregnancy. If you are wondering what pregnancy week are most babies born, here are the stats: 57.5% of babies will be born between weeks 39 and 41. 26% of births will occur at 37 to 38 weeks. 6.5% will occur after week 40. This shows that most deliveries will happen between weeks 38 and 39, and you should ideally be ready for anything by week 37.

This week 37 to week 40 guide will be the final post in our Pregnancy Week by Week series. In the course of this series, we have covered everything you need to know about what to expect for yourself and your little one from week 1 of pregnancy to week 40. We’ve also highlighted a few useful tips and tricks to make things a little easier for you on your journey.

In these last four weeks, your symptoms and discomforts may feel as if they are at an all-time high. However, take heart knowing that it’s almost over. You can also help ease a bit of that discomfort by wearing a comfortable bra that will help ease some of the discomfort in your upper body.

Week 37

What to expect for baby

Your baby is now growing at the rate of about half an ounce each day. They now weigh about 6.3 pounds. Week 37 is considered early-term, which means your baby can come at any time.

Because of your little one’s size, your uterus is now too cramped for them. Because of this, they no longer have much room for movement. You will, however, still feel some stretching, rolling, and wiggling.

Their heads are now roughly the same size as their chest. Fat deposits are now causing little dimples in the elbows, knees, and shoulders coupled with folds in the neck and wrists.

What to expect for mom to be

On your doctor’s visit this week, your dilation will be examined. Dilation means how far your cervix has opened. Ideally, you want to be dilated at about 10cm for the baby to pass through.

The doctor will also check for cervical ripening, which is the consistency of the cervix. The cervix is usually firm, but as you get close to birth, it softens to about the same texture that can be found inside your cheek.

Finally, the position of the cervix will also be checked. This is basically a measure of your little one’s position in relation to your pelvis.

Tip of the week

Perform perineal massage to help reduce stinging when the baby's head passes through the birth canal. It can also help prevent tearing and an episiotomy.

You might experience nesting in full swing this week, which means you’ll find yourself cleaning everything as you get your home ready for your baby. This is completely normal, just don’t strain yourself too much.

Week 38

What to expect for baby

At 38 weeks, most babies will weigh about seven pounds. However, keep in mind that this number is just a guide based on averages. Your little one might be bigger or smaller than these measurements when they are born.

While your baby’s lanugo, started coming off a few weeks ago, your little one might still have some of it when they are born. Lanugo is the soft, fine hair that covers their body. If your baby is born with it, you can expect them to shed it within a few weeks.

What to expect for mom to be

You may feel an electricity-like sensation running up and down your legs and in your vagina. This is because your baby is sitting very low in your pelvis and bumping into your nerves and creating all kinds of reactions. It might be uncomfortable but you need to still pay attention to any signs of labor.

The pregnancy is still considered "early term," at 38 weeks. It’ll only be “full term” when you enter week 39.

There are still changes occurring in the last weeks within your uterus. Walking at this point may be uncomfortable. You are carrying a lot of weight in your abdomen and your little one has put their head between your legs.

Your baby’s repositioning also shifts your center of gravity, making you feel unstable and increasing the probability of falling. While this happens, your body is also actively loosening up ligaments and joints in preparation for delivery.

Tip of the week

Now that your baby’s birthday can happen on any day, you need to be actively looking out for signs of labor. Some of the more obvious ones include lightening, contractions, and your water breaking.

Week 39

What to expect for baby

A 39-week old baby is almost 7.5 lb in weight. Their body organs are fully developed and can function outside the womb. If your pregnancy goes past week 39, you can expect your little one to keep packing on that extra pound every week like clockwork.

Their immune system is also being strengthened as antibodies are passed to them through the placenta to help them build an immune system to be able to fight off infections on their own. Even though they have been receiving antibodies since week 13, the bulk of it is transferred during these last few weeks.

What to expect for mom to be

Week 39 marks your pregnancy’s full term. You may feel impatient and very uncomfortable during this time. If you were scared about childbirth before, that’ll be the last thing on your mind this week; you just want the baby out of you. Nature works in mysterious ways!

On week 39, you’ll be going through almost all of the third-trimester discomforts. Your body will be working overtime preparing for birth. Your baby is in a head-down position and gradually moving into the cervix, putting pressure on it. It is this pressure that softens the cervix and gets you ready to push your little one out.

Changes in the cervix also happen due to an increase in prostaglandins. They aid the cervix in getting ready for birth. They are also responsible for loose stool, so do not worry when you start experiencing a bit of diarrhea.

Tip of the week

Your healthcare provider may offer to strip your membranes as they examine dilation in the cervix. This procedure will stimulate the production of prostaglandins and consequently get the contractions to begin.

Week 32

What to expect for baby

By week 40, most babies will be about six to nine pounds and around 20 inches in crown-rump length. This is officially their official last week in the uterus.

The placenta produces antibodies to help the baby fight infections for the first six months. Once the baby is born, breastfeeding also provides the child with the same protection. Make sure you have your nursing bra ready!

What to expect for mom to be

You may now be anxious because your due date is coming. However, you need to remind yourself that your little one will come when they are ready. About 30% of pregnancies go past the 40th week, but the doctor won't let it go past week 41.

Your water is going to break, rupturing the amniotic sac. Fewer than 15% of women experience a rupture of membranes before labor begins. Amniotic fluid is usually colorless and odorless. If the fluid is colored green or brown, call the doctor as it would mean that the baby had meconium, a bowel movement in the uterus.

Otherwise, just pay close attention to your baby’s movements. If you notice any decrease in activity, call your doctor immediately.

Tip of the week

Talk to your doctor to know when, how, and why you might need to induce labor. Unless there are health concerns, it is recommended to induce labor at the 39th week. Still, many doctors prefer to do it in week 41. Understand all your options.

Everything is probably already taken care of by now, you just need to make sure you get to the hospital on time. Take care of any last-minute simple things like charging your phone every night before bed.

Final Thoughts

It is important for us to mention at this point that during your pregnancy, it's totally normal to feel exhausted or perhaps even a little low. This is particularly true in your third trimester, when you may be feeling uncomfortable, anxious, and ready for your baby to arrive. However, if these feelings persist or begin to interfere with your daily life, they could be signs of postpartum depression.

If you're experiencing any symptoms of postpartum depression, let your doctor know. When depression is taken lightly and left untreated; it can become more severe. The good news is that it is a condition that is totally treatable. So don’t be afraid to speak up!

Congratulations on making it through 40 weeks! You are a true warrior, mama! You should be so proud of yourself and your little bundle of joy. We celebrate you!

Angelia Smith - Mar. 05 2022


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