Similar to Week 36, your baby has put on about 200g over the last one week. At Week 37, the average foetus weighs about 3 kg. Growth continues to slow, but he’s not done growing yet. Until the end of Week 38, babies are still considered ‘early term’.
What’s happening to your body right now:
Your physician is probably going to start guessing when labour will begin. Signs of labour include dilation and effacement. Dilation refers to how far your cervix has opened and cervical ripeness. Your cervix needs to be dilated 10 cm for the baby to pass through into the birth canal. Cervical ripeness refers to the consistency of the cervix—it starts out firm (like the tip of your nose) and softens (to the same texture as the inside of your cheek) before labour.
Your physician will also check for effacement (how thin your cervix is), the position of your cervix (it moves from the back to the front as labour approaches), and the position of your baby in relation to your pelvis (the lower your baby is, the closer you are to delivery).
These processes can occur gradually over a period of weeks or they can happen overnight. While they definitely indicate the nearness of labour, they are not enough to be able to pinpoint the start of labour.
How your foetus is developing during pregnancy week by week:
As your uterus gets more crowded, your baby’s movement consists more of stretching, rolling, and wiggling. His attentions are now more focused on practicing for life outside your uterus. The baby is simulating breathing by inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid, sucking on his or her thumb, blinking, and pivoting from side to side.
Also, your baby’s head is definitely still growing. At birth, it will have the same circumference as his hips, abdomen, and shoulders. Your baby is also fattening, developing those adorable dimples in elbows, knees, shoulders, and hip, and the creases and folds in the neck and wrists.
What you can do right now:
Firstly, do whatever it takes to get sleep during this period.
Secondly, even if you feel bloated, don’t stop drinking water. The recommended daily intake of 8 glasses will help ease your fluid retention.
Lastly, you can also try perineal massage in preparation for the big day. Perineal massage may help to gently stretch your perineum (the area of skin between your vagina and rectum) and minimise the ‘stinging’ that occurs when a baby’s head crowns during childbirth. It might also help you avoid an episiotomy and tearing.
Make sure your hands (or your spouse’s) are clean and your nails are trimmed. Next, lubricate your thumbs and put them inside your vagina. Press down towards your rectum and slide your thumbs across the bottom and side of your perineum, pulling gently outward and forward on the lower part of your vagina with your thumbs hooked inside. This helps to stretch the skin in the same way your baby’s head will during birth. This can be done daily until D-day and you can even continue doing so while in labour itself.
What are the signs of labour at Week 38?