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Week #37 of Pregnancy

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Your Pregnancy: Week 37

By Erin Horner, edHelperBaby

  Your Baby
           This week your baby weighs approximately 6 1/2 pounds and is, on average, 21 inches long.  His skin is nice and pink and he is becoming more and more round due to the fat that is being stored.  He also has soft nails that have grown to the tips of his ten tiny fingers and ten little toes.


  Your Body
           This week your doctor may begin doing pelvic exams in order to evaluate several aspects of your pregnancy.  He or she may check to see if you are leaking any amniotic fluid, which is still so important for baby's last weeks in your womb.  He will also check to see if your cervix is beginning to soften and thin out.  This process is known as effacement.  You will hear your nurses and doctors refer to the level at which your cervix has thinned out in terms of percentages.  Right before you deliver, your cervix will be "100% effaced," or completely thin and ready to go.  Your doctor may also check to see if your cervix is beginning to dilate.  As your body continues to prepare to deliver your baby, your cervix will open to approximately 10 centimeters allowing the baby to make its way into the world.  At the time of your exam you may be dilated a little, 1 cm or so; this does not mean that you are going to deliver your baby this week...but it might!  Regardless, it won't be much longer before your sweet baby is in your arms.


  You're Wondering. . .
           "My back is so sore.  Is there anything I can do to relieve my back pain?"

       While the different parts of the human body usually work together amazingly well, your back might not be thrilled with your growing belly, as your belly's new found shape and size are throwing your back's muscles more than a bit out of whack.  Here are a few suggestions that you can try to help ease some of your back pain:
  • Practice great posture.  While standing or sitting try and remain aware of your body's posture.  Keeping your shoulders back and your chest out helps to realign your center of gravity and off-set some of the strain brought about by your beautiful belly.
  • Sit down and stretch.  Stretching your hamstrings can do wonders for an aching lower back.  While seated on the floor, stretch your legs out straight and bend down to touch your toes.  You can also try some "cat curl" stretches.  While on all fours alternate arching your back up like an angry cat and then flattening it out again.  Be careful not to let your back dip down, however, as with the weight of your belly, this might cause your back more pain.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.  Be sure that you are wearing shoes that give your body the support that it needs right now.  Your body needs all the help that it can get, so while your six inch heels might be really cute, at the end of the day your body will thank you for choosing flats with some good arch supports instead!
  • Try hot or cold packs.  You may find that a heat or ice pack will bring about some much needed relief for an aching back.  Likewise, a warm (but not hot) bath might not only help to relax the muscles in your back, but the rest of you as well.


  Your "To-Do" List
           Take some time this week and pack your hospital bag for your baby's upcoming birthday.  The following checklist will help you make sure you don't accidentally forget some of the necessities for the big day and the hospital stay to follow.

       For Labor and Delivery:
  • All completed hospital forms and your insurance cards
  • Lip balm
  • Lollipops or other hard candy
  • Breath spray or mouthwash
  • One pair of warm socks
  • Snacks for your partner and change for the vending machines
  • A light diversion: magazines, deck of cards, etc.
  • Eye glasses, if necessary (you will not be able to wear contact lenses during your labor and delivery)
  • Hair rubber band, if you have long hair
  • A cozy pillow
  • Digital camera, video camera, or camera and film
  • List of the names and telephone numbers of friends and family to call

       For Your Hospital Stay:
  • 2 pairs of pajamas (if you are planning to nurse, you may want a nursing nightgown)
  • 4 pairs of underwear
  • 2 bras (nursing bras and breast pads, if breastfeeding)
  • Your toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, hair brush, styling aids (hair dryer, curling iron, etc.), deodorant, lotion and make-up
  • Sanitary pads, if your hospital won't be providing them
  • Your journal, if you've kept one

       For Baby:
  • 2 baby blankets for swaddling
  • Sleeper outfits for your time in the hospital, if you wish
  • Clothes for baby's trip home.  Depending on the weather, baby will need an undershirt or "onesie," an outfit, and possibly a hat.
  • Baby's "Birthday Book."  This will be explained in this week's homework section

       For Your Homecoming:
  • Cozy clothes (aka a maternity outfit) While you will have lost some weight immediately, don't pack your skinny jeans for the ride home.  Give yourself some grace and enjoy the elastic waist band a little while longer!
  • Baby's infant car seat


  Your Homework: Preparing For Parenthood
           This week head to your local bookstore find a "Birthday Book" for your baby.  When you reach the children's section, don't be overwhelmed by all of the different titles available; instead be excited at the amazing world of children's literature that you and your baby will get to explore together in the years to come!  On this particular trip, find a book that talks about how much parents love their children, or how special the birth of a baby is.  There are several great stories that talk about the love between a child and his or her mother or father using people or animals as the main characters as well as several books that talk about the special day that baby was born.       

       After finding the perfect book, take it home and read it to your baby.  Your baby has been able to recognize your voice since week 27 and because your voice travels directly through the amniotic fluid, it is your voice she hears most clearly.  Next, have your partner read it to your little one as well.  After enjoying this story time together, place this special book in your hospital bag and then read it to your baby on her birthday while you are in the hospital and she is in your arms.  I guarantee it will be harder not to cry this time!  On the inside cover of the book write down the date you read it and your child's height and weight.  Then, every year on their birthday, pull out this special book, snuggle up on the couch and read it again!  As you prepare to read, be sure to record your child's current height and weight on the inside cover.  Before you know it, this book will not only become a precious family tradition, but also a beautiful record of your growing child.


  My Experience
           This is something that my husband and I have loved doing with both of our children!  It was great fun, and great practice, to sit on the couch together and read to our babies even before they were born.  We selected a beautiful picture book that allowed us to express great love to our little ones in a way that as a new mommy full of emotion, I never could have done on my own.  Our book has now become a priceless family tradition, as reading it together is the last thing we do before bedtime on each child's birthday.  And in all honesty, it's still hard not to get teary as we read it, because I can't help but remember reading it to them while I held them in my arms for the very first time.


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