Pregnancy Week 37
Finally Full Term!
It's week 37 and baby is now within the "full term" range, which means he can come any time from now until 42 weeks (or more in some cases). Most pregnancies last from 37 to 42 weeks, although many doctors will induce labor when a woman goes over 40 weeks. Sometimes, after the 40-week mark, the placenta no longer provides proper nourishment to the baby and it is healthier to have labor stimulated than to wait for labor to begin on its own. If the baby is in distress or if you become ill, your doctor will want to induce labor and deliver the baby for the sake of safety.
Your baby now weighs about six and a half pounds and he is still putting on weight as he prepares for his birth. The added layers of fat that he is gaining in these very last weeks will strengthen him and increase his overall well-being when he is born.
Getting Your Plans In Place
Your uterus may have stopped growing by now, finishing at 6.5 inches above your navel. Some women notice they lose a pound or two from this week through the end of their pregnancy. You are likely more than ready to meet your new baby. Take time now to talk with your healthcare provider about your labor and delivery, and about what you would like to have happen during the process. If you have not yet pre-registered at the hospital or birth center, this would be a good time to do so. You are now in the final stages of pregnancy and your baby could come at any time. Being pre-registered is a good way to ease the stress when you are ready to give birth. If you were thinking about a birth plan, this would be a good time to get it done.
Managing Group B Strep Bacteria
During this week, your healthcare provider may want to test you for Group B strep. This type of strep bacteria can live in the vagina or the area around the rectum. Often found in up to 35 percent of healthy adults, Group B strep normally does not pose a health threat. However, if Group B strep is present during pregnancy, the baby may become infected during labor and delivery. An infected baby needs a lot of care and treatment in the hospital, including a round of antibiotics. Group B infections can cause some serious problems for newborns, such as infection of the blood, called sepsis. Meningitis and pneumonia are other serious illnesses a newborn may be subject to if there is a Group B infection. If the baby is infected, symptoms will begin to appear in the first week of life or soon after.
If you have this infection, your doctor can prescribe a course of antibiotics that will be taken through your pregnancy and delivery, which will help to protect your baby. Women who have already had a baby with a Group B infection, who develop a fever during labor, have a Group B infection in their urinary tract or who have premature rupture of the membranes are all at risk for this bacteria.