Women's Healthcare Topics

37 Weeks Pregnant

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.


Learn about your symptoms and changes during the 37th week of pregnancy.

You are now considred early term. This means that if you were to deliver your baby this week, there is a good chance that he or she would be perfectly healthy.

Labor can start at any second from this week onward. You should be on the look out for any signs of labor.

A term baby can be born anytime between 37 weeks and 42 weeks of pregnancy.

Term pregnancy is divided into:

  • early term ( between 37 weeks 0 days and 38 weeks 6 days )

  • full term ( between 39 weeks 0 days and 40 weeks 6 days )

  • late term ( between 41 weeks 0 days and 41 weeks 6 days )

  • post-term ( between 42 weeks 0 days and beyond )

Though your due date is three weeks away, keep in mind that only five percent of babies will be born on their estimated due date. Over 80 percent of babies are born between pregnancy week 37 and 42 weeks.

Do you Think you are Going into Labor?

Think you are Going into Labor?

What is term labor? - Term labor begins when you have contractions between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy. Your due date is set at the first day of the 40th week. When you have contractions that begin before 37 weeks, it is called preterm labor and if they wait to start past 42 weeks you are considered post-term.

What are the signs (Braxton Hicks Contractions) that labor is starting, here is a list:

  • When you feel that the baby has moved lower in your belly. This is called lightening or the baby has dropped.

  • When the fluid coming from the vagina is a thick mucus and/or slightly bloody. This is called the mucus plug or bloody show.

  • Increase lower back discomfort or lower abdominal cramping.

  • You will start to feel the uterus tighten. This sensation can be mild at first, only to become painful later on.

What are the signs of true labor:
True labor contractions can be difficult to distinguish from false labor (Braxton Hicks) contractions. But here are a few general rules:

  • Contractions that come every couple of minutes and become more regular and frequent are true labor contractions.

  • Contractions from true labor do not go away with rest. False labor contractions can come and go and usually stop with rest.

  • The best indicator of true labor contractions is that they get stronger and stronger with time, whereas false labor contractions do not get stronger.

When you start having contractions you should time the interval between them and note if they are becoming stronger. You will need to use a clock with a second hand or a stop watch app. Makes sure to write down the time between the start of a contraction and the start of the next contraction. If the interval is becoming shorter you may be in true labor.

When you think you have started true labor your physician will want to know this, and will give you instructions on what to do next. You should call your doctor also if you have an increase in bloody mucus or if your bag of water breaks.

Make sure to call your physician if you think labor has started before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

Pregnancy Health Section

Video: 37 Weeks
Video: Your Pregnancy Week 37

When does Labor Start for Twins?

When does Labor Start for Twins

At 37 weeks pregnant, you are considered "early term," which means your baby (or babies) may arrive any day now. If you are pregnant with twins, you'll want to be on the lookout for labor this week. A majority of twin pregnancies end in premature infants. The average pregnancy for twins ends at 35 weeks, though some women can carry their babies until 40 weeks of pregnancy.

Many healthcare providers typically recommend that women carrying twins induce their labor between 37 and 40 weeks pregnant to avoid potential complications. Studies have indicated that twins that are delivered from 37 weeks pregnant until pregnancy week 40 have the best outcomes.

If you haven't gone into labor yet, you will want to prepare for it at any second. Make sure that your hospital bag is packed and ready to go by the door, and double check that both of your infant car seats are properly installed. You will not be able to go home with your newborn twins without their car seats.

Birth Plans

Birth Plans

At 37 weeks pregnant, it is the time many women consider creating a birth plan. A birth plan is simply a way that you can convey your ideas and desires regarding the birthing process to your healthcare team before, during and after labor.

Many women use birth plans to list their expectations regarding the birth process. A birth plan can help your healthcare team better understand your needs and desires, and it can help you prepare to welcome your baby into the world in a manner you deem fit.

You don't have to use anything fancy to create a birth plan, you can simply write down your ideas on paper. There are some common things; however, you probably want your birth plan to address. Among the more common areas covered by a birth plan include:

  • Whether or not you wish to receive pain medications during labor.

  • What kind of pain relief you prefer.

  • Whether you plan to breastfeed or bottle feed.

  • Whether or not you want a circumcision performed if you are having a boy.

  • If you want to listen to music or other forms of entertainment while giving birth.

  • Whether or not you want to use a tub or shower if available to relax in during labor.

  • Describe what positions you prefer to be in during birth.

  • Whether or not you agree to an episiotomy, or if there are certain steps you would like your healthcare provider to take in order to avoid one.

  • Whether or not you have any special requests related to the birth process.

  • Who is allowed in the room at the time of delivery?

Not sure where to begin? Simply start by writing down a list of your hopes and expectations about the birthing process. Then number and list them to make sure the most important of your needs gets addressed.

You should also consider having your partner contribute to the birth plan. Your partner may come up with a request that you hadn't considered. You should be comfortable sharing your plan with your healthcare provider, nurses, and anyone else that might be interacting with you during the labor and delivery process.

Remember that even with a birth plan surprises do happen during labor and delivery. You may state that you do not want a Cesarean Section for example, but sometimes a Cesarean Birth may be necessary to protect the well-being of you and your baby. Keep an open mind about your birth plan, but also remember that you have a right to inform your team of your preferences and desires.

Breech Position and How it Complicates Labor

Breech Position and How it Complicates Labor

At 37 weeks pregnant, your baby has already flipped into his birthing position. Most babies will be in the head-down position, which is the best position for a vaginal birth.

In some cases, your baby may be in the breech position (where his bottom or legs are close to your pelvis but his head is upward) or a transverse position (lying sideways). These abnormal positions can complicate your labor and delivery, and they may require you to have a Cesarean Section.

Your doctor or healthcare provider will check your baby's position at your prenatal visits. If your baby is breech, your doctor may attempt to "turn" your baby with a procedure called an External Cephalic Version (ECV).

Breech Position and External Cephalic Version
During an External Cephalic Version (ECV), your doctor will try to gently guide the baby into the head-down position by pressing his or her hands on your belly. This procedure can be uncomfortable and painful, so you will often be given medication to relax your uterine muscles beforehand.

To avoid any harm to your baby, the ECV procedure is monitored with both an ultrasound and electronic fetal heart monitor. If your baby shows signs of fetal distress (such as a heart rate that suddenly drops) during the procedure, the attempted External Cephalic Version will be stopped.

How Successful is an External Cephalic Version?
An external cephalic version has a success rate of 60 percent. In the event that an ECV procedure fails, your doctor may choose to deliver your baby via C-section. (Most cesarean sections are scheduled for 38 to 39 weeks of pregnancy).

Risks of an External Cephalic Version
If you are interested in having an External Cephalic Version, keep in mind that the procedure does come with certain risks. These include:

  • Twisting of your baby's umbilical cord, which can restrict oxygen and blood flow to your little one. This can sometimes lead to fetal distress, that requires an emergency C-section.

  • The onset of premature labor

  • Premature rupture of the membranes (your water breaking before your baby is ready to be delivered)

  • Your baby turns back into the breech position after the ECV procedure

  • Mother or baby experience blood loss. This may cause mixing of blood from mother and baby.

Because there is a possibility of bleeding, women who are Rh-negative will be given an RH immune globulin injection to prevent Rh sensitization (Rh sensitization is where you produce antibodies against the baby).

Though the risks of complications are very small, your doctor or healthcare provider may not perform External Cephalic Versions. In this case you will be given a referral to high risk specialist to do the procedure.

Baby Section

Growth and Development of Baby

At 37 weeks pregnant, your baby may weigh over 6.3 pounds and he or she might be as long as 19 inches.

As your baby moves downward into your pelvis, in preparation for delivery (a process called "engagement"), you will feel less pressure underneath your rib cage. You may also find that you can breathe more easily than in the previous weeks, because your lungs now have more room to expand.

Your baby continues to gain weight. Fat now covers his or her arms, legs, and belly. When your little bundle of joy is born, he or she will look very similar to how he or she looks now.

The lanugo hair that has covered your baby's body until now is being shed and replaced by short, fine hairs called "vellus hairs" (more commonly known as "peach fuzz").

Your baby's ears are fully developed. Since noises easily penetrate the womb at this stage in your pregnancy, you may notice that loud noises startle your baby. You and your partner should also spend time speaking to your baby, since he or she can hear you. In fact, it's the mother's voice that all babies first recognize after birth.

Now that you are early term, the level of amniotic fluid surrounding your baby will slowly decrease from here on out. (next week)