By Today's ParentUpdated May 16, 2022
Photo: Mandy Milks, Erik Putz, Anthony Swaneveld. Felt: thefeltstore.com
As you head into the home stretch, your baby weighs about 2.9 kilograms (6.5 pounds) and is 48 centimetres (19 inches) long. At 37 weeks pregnant, your baby is still shedding the lanugo, the fine, downy hair that covers her body and helps keep her warm in utero. Brain development is super-important in the final weeks—in fact, your baby’s brain will almost double in size between week 35 and 39. As well, she’s fine-tuning some skills—such as gripping, blinking, sucking, inhaling and exhaling—that will definitely be needed in the outside world. Most importantly, though, she is continuing to make a substance called surfactant in her lungs, which helps the lungs inflate with the first intake of air and keeps the lungs from sticking together as the baby exhales. Babies born prematurely (at or before 37 weeks) may be given surfactant when they’re born to help with their breathing.
As your baby gets squeezed in and has less room to move, she may not be as active as she has been earlier in your pregnancy. If you haven’t been doing kick counts already, your midwife or doctor may ask you to start (this means lying back and counting the number of times your baby moves, hoping for about 10 kicks before two hours has elapsed) to make sure that everything is on track.
Backed up Hormones that help relax muscles in your body are also smoothing out and relaxing your intestines, which slow everything down. Plus, your growing baby is taking up more space, giving your digestive system less room to do its job and making you more prone to constipation in the third trimester. Ironically, you’re in the bathroom a lot to pee, as there’s also pressure from the baby on your bladder.
There’s not much you can do about frequent urination—it’s not a good idea to limit your fluid intake when you’re pregnant. In fact, plenty of water will help keep things moving if you’re constipated. Choose fibre-rich foods, such as fruits, veggies and high-fibre cereals, to help with constipation.
Be gentle when you’re going number two because straining can cause hemorrhoids (itchy, painful, swollen veins in the anus—good times!). Talk to your doctor or midwife about ointments to relieve the discomfort or a stool softener like Colace (this could come in handy after childbirth, too).
Those Braxton Hicks contractions we talked about throughout your pregnancy often ramp up during late pregnancy, too. These “practice contractions” don’t dilate your cervix, but they can be painful. To deal, drink lots of water (mild dehydration can be a trigger) and practise deep breathing because Braxton Hicks can be a sign that you’re overdoing it. Also, try a warm bath or a hot water bottle (wrapped in a towel) on your abdomen.
Task master In the last month of pregnancy, lots of mamas-to-be find that their nesting instinct kicks into overdrive, with lots of cleaning, cooking and general prep for the new arrival. Sometimes all these projects are a great way to channel the pre-baby anxiety and excitement—even if it’s a completely random, non-essential home improvement task that you’re suddenly obsessed with checking off the list. (Or perhaps you’re snoring on the couch by 7 p.m. Both coping methods are cool with us.) One really productive nesting task is to set up a few different mini-stations for feeding or diaper changes, especially if your home has more than one floor.
Take a cruise through Pinterest or Etsy to see if there are any traditional birth announcements that catch your eye. You can take a standard social-media birth announcement up a notch using a digital-photo app. And even if you’re going low-key (and old school) with a simple email to friends and family, get your email address list ready now so that you and your partner can send out a picture and a short message when your baby arrives.
Is your partner already making "Luke, I am your father" jokes? We rounded up a list of creative baby name ideas for expectant couples who are also Star Wars fans. (And May the Force be with you... as you prepare for parenthood.)
If you’ve started your mat leave, this is a great time to get some personal appointments out of the way before your baby arrives. Book a haircut or trim or maybe even a teeth cleaning. (Sorry to say this, but even a dentist appointment can feel like “me time” after the baby arrives!) A prenatal mani or pedi is also a totally doable luxury, especially when you haven’t been able to reach your own toes for weeks. (Some hospitals have a no-nail-polish rule if you’re having a C-section, though, so check on the policy if you plan on treating yourself in the next couple of weeks.)