Your baby is now fully formed and, if it is a boy, his testicles should have descended. The vernix has mostly disappeared. Baby will gain weight at the rate of about an ounce per day during the last month before the birth. Your baby is getting fatter and its skin is less rumpled.
He or she is getting ready for birth and is settling into the fetal position with its head down against the birth canal, its legs tucked up to its chest, and its knees against its nose. The bones of baby’s head are soft and flexible to ease the process of delivery through the birth canal.
Your antibodies to disease are beginning to flow rapidly through the placenta. The rapid flow of blood through the umbilical cord keeps it taut which prevents tangles. Your baby is beginning to develop sleeping patterns. You will also feel your baby roll around as it gets too cramped inside your uterus for much movement. Your baby will continue to kick and punch although it will move lower in your abdomen to under your pelvis (this is a process called ”lightening”).
Your baby’s lungs are now mature and your baby will have a great chance of survival if born a little early. Your baby is now about 20 inches (51 cm) long and weighs approximately 6 to 9 pounds (2700 to 4000 grams). Only 5 percent of babies are born on their due date. If you go into labor after week 37 your careprovider will not try to stop it.
Your baby may be born anytime between the 37th and 42nd week of pregnancy.
After your 36th week, your health care provider will increase your prenatal appointments to weekly. Your provider will check your weight, blood pressure, urine, fundal height, edema, and varicose veins. He or she will also check the fetal heartbeat, size, presentation (head or buttocks first?), position (facing the front or the back?), and descent. Your cervix will be examined sometime after the 38th week for effacement and dilation (opening of the cervix). Your provider will ask you to report on the frequency and duration of your Braxton Hicks contractions. Ask your provider about any questions you have, especially about labor and delivery. You should also receive instructions from your provider as to when to call if you think you are in labor. If you do not receive these instructions, ask your provider for them.
You will feel changes in the fetal activity (more squirming and rolling and less kicking). In addition to the pregnancy discomforts you have been feeling the last couple of months, you may have some discomfort and achiness in your buttocks and pelvic area, increased backache and heaviness, more difficulty sleeping. More frequent and intense Braxton Hicks contractions (which may now be painful), which will give you a chance to practice your breathing techniques. Due to the lower position of your baby, it will be easier for you to breathe but you will need to urinate more frequently. You may feel very fatigued or have extra energy or alternate between the two. Your appetite may be increased or diminished substantially.
By the 40th week, you will likely be feeling more excited, anxious, apprehensive, and relieved that it is almost over. You may feel irritable, overly sensitive, restless, and impatient. All of these feelings are normal. Don’t worry — you won’t be pregnant much longer!
Remember to pack your bag so that you will be ready to rush to the hospital when the time comes.