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  • Pregnancy Symptoms Week 37: Time to Get That Perineal Massage

    At 37 weeks pregnant, your baby measures a little over 19 inches long and weighs over six pounds.
    by Rachel Perez .
Pregnancy Symptoms Week 37: Time to Get That Perineal Massage
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Many moms get really excited once they reach this week — they expect to pop any moment. That's why many worry when the week passes without any signs of labor. But at 37 weeks of your pregnancy, you are actually considered early term — full-term would be two weeks from now. Your baby is almost ready, yes, but, as people like to say, not fully 'cooked' yet.

    Pregnancy signs Week 37

    Any weight gain at this point will go straight to your baby (and, yehey, not to your thighs). Although your baby bump is not likely to get any bigger, it will continue to cause you a lot of discomfort. Remember your due date is an estimate, and you can give birth two weeks before or after. The likelihood of going into labor does increase as each day passes, so it's essential that you can differentiate false from actual labor signs.

    Bloody show

    A little bit of spotting is normal at Week 37 because your cervix is extra sensitive during pregnancy. Spotting may be due to sex or a vaginal internal exam (IE) during your now weekly prenatal check-up. Call your doctor if it's more than just a few drops of blood.

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    A pinkish or red-tinged, sticky, and a gelatin-like substance on your undies, however, could be your mucus plug detaching from your cervix, a sign you're about to go into labor. Some moms though lose their mucus plug as early as two weeks before experiencing other labor signs.

    Contractions

    False labor contractions or Braxton Hicks are mild and irregular contractions that don't increase in intensity or frequency. These belly-tightenings usually go away when you shift positions. You may experience these contractions more frequently as you get near to your due date.

    Real labor contractions help dilate or open up your cervix. These contractions become more regular, stronger, and longer over time. Other signs you may be in labor are you're out of breath after each contraction, and you feel a discomfort on your back and abdomen.

    Watery discharge

    If you notice clear, watery discharge, even when it's not a big gush of water, head to the hospital urgently. Your water bag may have ruptured, and you need to deliver your baby as soon as possible.

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    Alert your doctor and get to the hospital emergency room immediately if you experience any of the following:

    • bleeding
    • your baby isn't moving as much
    • elevated blood pressure
    • severe headache
    • blurred vision
    • sudden swelling
    • nausea
    • vomiting

    These are warning signs that indicate pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and placenta problems, and they warrant immediate medical attention.

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    Pregnancy symptoms Week 37

    Your pregnancy symptoms at 37 weeks are more due to your impending labor than your growing baby bump. If you're unsure about any symptoms, old or new ones, don't hesitate to ask your doctor. Here are some of the typical symptoms you will feel at 37 weeks.

    Breast changes

    Apart for your areola and your nipple darkening, you might also notice that your inverted nipple may pop out, which will make latching during breastfeeding easier. Your milk glands are also expanding as they fill with colostrum, which may make your breast feel a bit lumpy. Your breasts may also leak a few drops of the yellowish, watery, or milky fluid.

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    Abdominal pressure, pelvic pain and discomfort

    Your baby is probably already into a head-down position towards your birth canal, which may put pressure on your pelvic area. Your ligaments are loosening to help your baby make his way into this world. These are the reasons why you feel abdominal pressure and pain in your pelvic area, lower abdomen and back, and hip.

    Sleep issues

    Pain and discomfort (leg cramps and back pain!) are the main reasons you might have trouble sleeping. Sleeping on your side is even more crucial now that you're in your third trimester, and pregnancy pillows can make you feel comfortable. Try meditation or drinking warm milk before bedtime to relax you.

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    Your baby's development at 37 weeks

    At 37 weeks pregnant, your baby measures just a little over 19 inches long and weighs over six pounds. He will continue to gain about a quarter of a pound each week until he arrives. Baby boys tend to weigh heavier than baby girls at birth.

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    Your baby is so snug in your belly now that his kicks and somersaults may be reduced to punches, stretches, and wiggling. You should still feel them and continue to monitor your baby's movements in his waking hours. Call your doctor if you notice any decline in activity inside your womb.

    Your little one is just about ready to be born, and he's practicing inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid, blinking, and turning from side to side. Your baby can now grasp onto smaller objects, like a toe or his nose. His digestive system is also getting ready to have his first bowel movement called meconium as soon as he's out.

    Your baby's lungs are likely mature now, but they're not done developing yet. During this time, your baby's umbilical cord starts passing antibodies on to your baby in preparation for delivery. The antibodies will help your baby be better prepared for the diseases and germs he'll encounter outside the womb.

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    Your to-do list on Week 37 of your pregnancy

    Pregnancy brain is real, so you might find yourself more forgetful. Write things down or use an app to make your list and check them twice! Make sure you've covered your birth plan, postpartum care plan, maternity leave, finances, and your three hospital bags).

    Review your labor and childbirth class notes

    Information is your number one defense against the fear of giving birth. When you understand what your body is going through and what causes the pain, you'll be more in the zone. Review your labor positions to help ease the pain and focus on the music that keeps you calm.

    Stay on top of your weekly prenatal checkups.

    Your doctor may order for you to get an ultrasound as part of a biophysical profile. This test is designed to gauge a baby’s well-being. It measures your baby's heart rate, muscle tone, movement, breathing, and the amount of amniotic fluid around your baby. It also includes a non-stress test.

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    Go ahead and nest!

    If you find in yourself suddenly having the urge to clean, it's part of your nesting instinct. It may be your brain's way of ensuring you're prepped for baby as much as you can. Stock up on diapers, breast milk bags or containers, and other baby essentials. Make sure you 've installed your car seat. Have your house deep-cleaned already.

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    Have a perineal massage

    The massage will help gently stretch the skin on your perineum (the area of skin between your vagina and rectum) and prepare it for your baby’s arrival. It can also help prevent tearing and avoid episiotomy. Here's how to do a perineal massage, according to the American Pregnancy Association:

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    1. Make sure your hands (or your partner's, if you'll be enlisting his help) are clean and nails are trimmed.
    2. Get into a position wherein you can comfortably reach your perineum, such as sitting on the bed with your legs spread and your knees bent or squatting against a wall for support with one leg propped on a stool.
    3. With the help of a specially designed lubricant for perineal massages (avoid water-soluble lubricants and natural oils), put your thumbs inside your vagina and then press down toward your rectum.
    4. Slide your thumbs across the bottom and sides of your perineum, pulling gently outward and forward on the lower part of the vagina with your thumbs hooked inside. Repeat several times.

    Encourage labor to start!

    Labor inductions are only performed when necessary and uusually at 39 weeks. These are the only reasons your doctor may decide to induce you:

    • your baby is not thriving in your womb
    • your placenta is no longer functioning properly
    • your amniotic fluid is low
    • your water bag is leaking or has ruptured, but contractions have not started
    • you have pregnancy complications such as uncontrolled hypertension, diabetes which may adversely affect you and your baby's health
    • you're already post-term or two weeks past your due date

    Only upon your doctor's instructions, you can naturally encourage labor to begin by walking or even having sex (don't overdo it, though). Your body knows when your baby's ready to be born.

    More on your week-by-week pregnancy:

    Pregnancy Symptoms Week 36: Go on a Lot of Date Nights With Family!

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