A quick snapshot
Although these can be physically uncomfortable weeks, you may still feel a sense of disappointment that your pregnancy is almost over. You've become accustomed to having the baby close to you, felt its movements and created a relationship with it. Pregnant mothers can worry that they may not like their baby when it is born or they could potentially have problems bonding with it. These are normal fears and although not every woman speaks about them, it is common to have nagging doubts. Remind yourself that babies are very clever at helping their parents fall in love with them and all three of you are set up to succeed.
What’s changing in your body
- Your back aches, your pelvis is creaking and your bladder can't hold more than a few millilitres. Welcome to the last few weeks of gestation.
- Your vaginal discharge will increase now and you could need to wear a liner for extra absorbency. This is completely normal and unless it is profuse, itchy, smells unusual or is bothering you, don't be concerned. There is a lot of pelvic engorgement and hormonal activity occurring now and this is a normal outcome.
- You may occasionally get a sharp, almost electrified feeling in your bladder from this week. It could startle you and cause you to feel you are about to wet yourself. As long as you don't have other urinary symptoms that could mean a urinary tract infection, don't be concerned. If this is your first baby, it may be engaging in your pelvis and that bony head isn't far from your sensitive bladder. Changing positions can help but otherwise, it's just a case of too little room.
How your emotions are affected
- Excitement is building in you and your partner. You'll find your mind is prone to drifting off, imagining how the baby will look, visualising yourself holding it and wondering exactly how it will fit into your lives. You may also be frightened, worried if everything will be alright with the baby and how you would cope if it were not.
- You could be concerned about how you will cope with your labour. Keeping fears to yourself can only make them worse so seek some trusted sources to confide in. Your doctor is sure to have heard similar concerns many times over.
- If you are having a booked caesarean delivery, mark the date in your diary or calendar if you haven't already done so. Plan for a quiet couple of days beforehand so you don't feel you have rushed through them. The last few weeks of pregnancy are often referred to as a waiting game and even if patience isn't usually one of your attributes, you will save yourself a lot of angst by just letting nature take its course.
- It is so important to invest some time into thinking about how you will adjust to becoming a parent and the possible changes in your relationship with your partner. Parenting actually starts during pregnancy, not when the baby is born.
How your baby is growing
Third Trimester: Week 37
- Your baby is packing on the weight this week, around 500g, in fact. If you are feeling hungry, give in to your body's signals that it wants more food. The energy from your dietary intake is going directly into your baby's fat stores and helping them to fill out.
- Your baby doesn't have much space to move their whole body around now but will still be able to pivot themselves into more comfortable positions. You could find they protest when they’re feeling a little compressed. A sharp jab in the ribs or in your pelvis is usually enough of a prompt for pregnant mothers to get up, move around or even do some pelvic rocking.
- Lanugo, that soft downy hair that has been covering your baby's skin, is being reabsorbed this week. Much of it will end up in your baby's gut and will be included along with other waste products in meconium, the first bowel motion. Vernix caseosa, the white greasy coating on their skin, will also be reabsorbed.
Tips for the week
- Take some photos which chronicle your final weeks of pregnancy. You will look back on them in the years to come and wonder at how much your skin could stretch. Measure your tummy with a tape measure wrapped around your belly button. See how much it had grown in the last few weeks. Mark this on your pregnancy calendar and watch for increases.
- Read up on information about childbirth and how to have an active labour and delivery. Informed mothers and their partners feel less like observers in their child's birth and more like participants.
- Pack your bag for the hospital. Don't forget to include toiletries, clothing for yourself and the baby, nappies, any medication you need, health insurance details, lists of contact numbers for family and friends and most importantly; your own pillow.