Happy couple

What is it like?

Preterm birth (Latin: partus praetemporaneus or partus praematurus) refers to the birth of a baby of less than 37 weeks gestational age. So beginning this week, you are now full term. Congratulations! This can be a strange time in the pregnancy, as your weight may go up or down, and your baby may move lower into the pelvis or not move at all. All are normal, so just try to relax and wait.

Your baby’s growth

  • Body size
    Your baby is slightly longer than 19.5 inches (500 millimeters), and he or she weighs about 7 pounds (3200 grams) this week.
  • Head characteristics
    Your baby can open his or her eyes and her sucking motion has filled out her cheeks, ready breast or bottle feed outside the womb. Now about time when her head will move into the pelvis, which will make it easier for you to breathe.
  • Body appearance
    Your baby has lost most of the vernix and the lanugo, although after birth you may still see their traces. Your baby has now enough fat under his or her skin to maintain his or her body temperature.
  • Internal organs
    The placenta continues to provide your baby with antibodies to fight infection. When born, her immune system will not be fully developed, and will mature with breast milk as you pass on essential anti-bodies to your baby.

What happens inside your body?

During the 37th week of your pregnancy you may begin to feel increased pressure in your lower abdomen as your baby begins to descend into your pelvis. This may feel like increased pressure on your bladder or a tingling sensation or numbness in your pelvis. If you feel really uncomfortable, you can buy a belly sling that will support the weight of your belly and take pressure off your back and pelvis. As your baby descends, it will allow you to breathe and eat more easily. Your breasts may feel heavier and fuller – thank those pesky pregnancy hormones. Oh and the usual pregnancy symptoms – exhaustion, insomnia, frequent urination, high blood pressure, hemorrhoids, constipation, edema, lower back pain – may continue this week.

How different will you look?

You’ve probably gained around 25-35 pounds (11-16 kilograms). Your uterus is about 6.4 inches (16.5 centimeters) from your belly button. Some women continue to put on weight during this period, while others maintain their weight. Some even lose a few pounds, as their amniotic fluid decreases or other bodily changes. Don’t worry – all is normal. If you’re still gaining weight, your baby is likely still gaining fat.

How can you care for both of your loved ones?

We all hope we never need it, but CPR for babies and toddlers could save a life. If you have any free time before the birth, this is an excellent skill to learn and one that doesn’t take much time or cost much money. A number of places might offer zero or low-cost courses, such as YMCAs, community center, local chapters of the American Red Cross or American Heart Association. Your local hospital might offer its own course, or it CPR might be part of your pre-natal classes. CPR, even on a baby, usually only takes a few hours to learn – an evening for a life.

Tips to help you go through trimester

False or real labor: Many women experience false labor before true labor starts. So how to know which is which? The best way is to take note of your contractions. False labor consists of contractions can be painful and may come every 10 or 20 minutes. With false labor, your cervix will not have started to dilate yet. Your mid-wife or doctor will be able to tell by carrying out an examination.

Massaging your perineum

This might sound a little too new-agey, but it can reduce the pain of delivery and your chance of tearing during the birth. Your perineum is the area of skin between your vagina and rectum. To massage it, make sure that your hands are washed and nails clipped. Then lubricate your thumbs with some K-Y jelly or another lubricant. Insert your thumbs into your vagina, or your partner’s if they are game, and gently push outward and forward with your thumbs inside. This will stretch the skin around that area where your baby’s head will crown during birth.

If you start to think that there’s just too much to do, remember the most important thing that you can do at this stage in the pregnancy is relax. While there are many different types of pregnancy preparation methods, it’s important to remember that you probably won’t be able to learn them all. It’s all okay. Babies are like pregnancy – flexibility is key.