What is it like?
By the end of this week (heading into week 37) your baby will be considered full term! Your baby is about the length of a loaf of bread and fattening up, to help him regulate his temperature outside the womb. Her internal systems, from musculoskeletal to central nervous are fully developed. Her digestive system will take its first run when she feeds outside of the womb.
If you’re worried about everything that can go wrong, remember that women have been doing this for thousands of years, and in a bind, your maternal instincts will take over, and you’ll find surprising confidence.
Your baby’s growth
- Body size
During the 36th week of your pregnancy, your baby probably measures about 19.5 inches (500 millimeters) and weighs about 6.6 pounds (3000 grams).
- Head characteristics
Your baby’s brain and nervous system are functioning increasingly well, but their development will continue throughout childhood and even adolescence. The bones in your baby’s skull will remain separated so your baby’s head can compress to fit through the birth canal, which explains why babies often have long, pointy heads at birth.
- Body appearance
His or her skin is still pink, and the adipose tissue, or the fat layer, is becoming thicker and more consistent. After birth it will be responsible for the temperature regulation.
- Internal organs
Your baby’s kidneys are fully developed and the liver continues to perform the functions of metabolism and excretion. The lungs remain the only organ not fully developed yet. Every extra day spent in your womb increases your baby’s strength.
What happens inside your body?
You may still experience heartburn, urinary problems, pressure on your bladder, constipation, pregnancy waddle and insomnia this week. Flatulence and edema may feel like the final straw. If you feel like you’ve just about had it with pregnancy, remember that every day your baby spends in the womb is a day that she gains strength and fine-tunes organ development.
Preeclampsia is when women develop hypertension and protein in the urine late in the pregnancy, or after the 20th week. Mild preeclampsia is when the blood pressure is over a certain level (140/90 mm Hg) and you have proteinuria (protein in the urine). If the blood pressure is over 160/110 mm Hg, you have protein in your urine and other symptoms, such as eye problems or abdominal pain), you have severe preeclampsia.
Whether severe or mild, doctors take preeclampsia very seriously. It can cause premature, underweight or stillborn babies. If you have no other symptoms other than slightly high blood pressure, doctors will likely allow you go to home, as long as you take to your bed and stay there. Otherwise, you will be admitted to hospital. Treatment depends on the severity of the case, but often includes injections of magnesium sulfate. A large research study published in 2002 found that when mothers with pre-eclampsia were given magnesium sulfate, it roughly halved the risk of developing eclampsia.
How different will you look?
Your uterus has expanded to 1,000 times its original size. It’s now wedged up under your ribs, and is more than 6 inches (16 centimeters) above your belly button. You should have gained about 33 pounds (15 kilograms); weight distributed to your baby, uterus, amniotic fluid, placenta, extra blood and breast volume. While it may feel like you are about to burst, your still have about another 4 weeks of expansion – time for Junior to fatten up.
For fathers – How can you care for both of your loved ones?
This is one of the last weeks that you get to spend alone with your partner. While you are both probably a bit apprehensive, and she is probably tired, creating precious memories can help you get into the right mindset for the upcoming event. It doesn’t have to be major – a dinner at her favorite restaurant, a candlelit bubble bath together – you know what makes her tick.
For mothers – Tips to help you go through trimester
Baby showers are an excellent way to connect with old friends and stock up essentials before the birth. While you might prefer to buy some things yourself – a breast-feeding pump and a car seat – for example, babies are the ultimate consumers – going through things before you’ve had time to pay off the credit. If you’re worried about costs escalating – which can happen quickly – you can ask any of your new parent friends who might have gently used baby gear.
At least, you’ll probably need a crib, a changing station, undershirts or onesies in newborn and three-month sizes, infant car seat, breast pump, baby thermometer, bottles and nipples (even if you’re breast feeding, there will probably be times when you want to take a feeding break with the bottle), formula (if you plan on bottle-feeding), diapers, diaper-rash cream, baby lotion and shampoo. If you’re having difficulty, you can always ask your family for help – an excellent way to support their new grandchild.
By the end of this week (pregnancy week 37), your baby will officially be full-term. Congratulations! Now is an excellent time to take advantage of your last few moments of family life with just you and your partner. You’re life is about to get a lot more chaotic, but more dramatic and beautiful too.