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Pregnancy At Week 37

Pregnancy At Week 37

With only three weeks to go until your baby’s due date, you are probably counting down the days! It’s normal to have feelings of anticipation and anxiety about your impending labor and delivery — not to mention bringing home a baby soon!

What’s Going On With Your Baby?

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    While many babies are born without life-threatening complications at this point in pregnancy, a baby is still considered “early-term” until the end of week 38. Your baby’s lungs are now fully mature, ensuring that they would safely breathe on their own if born today. They are now gaining half of a pound a week, making them totally squishable for all the baby cuddles after the birth. Likely, the punches and kicks you’ve grown accustomed to have slightly diminished. This is not because they are any less active, however. Your uterus is super full of baby and fluid at this point, making dramatic movements impossible. You should still feel plenty of wiggling and more subtle movements though. Side note: Boys tend to weigh more than girls at birth, which explains why women pregnant with boys tend to eat more than those carrying girls.

    Your baby keeps practicing the inhaling and exhaling movements by drinking and expelling amniotic fluid. You’ll notice them shifting positions, with their bum on one side one day, switching to the other side the next.

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    What’s Going On In Your Body?

    Your body is going through a lot of changes during these last few weeks before birth. It is possible that your cervix has already begun to dilate. It will need to widen to ten centimeters before you will be able to push your baby out. Many women begin to dilate to 1 or 2 centimeters for a week or two before going into labor. If you start to feel sensations similar to mild menstrual cramps, your cervix could be in the very early stages of dilation. At your next doctor’s appointment, you should tell your doctor about these pains. He or she may want to manually examine your cervix to find out if you’ve begun to dilate. Early dilation does not always indicate imminent labor, but it does mean that your body is in the preparation stages.

    Other common symptoms during week 37 pregnancy are indigestion and heartburn, varicose veins, pelvic pain, back pain, weight gain of one pound per week, leg cramps, difficulty sleeping, and pregnancy brain. You may lose your mucus plug anytime between now and delivery. This is a mucousy, bloody discharge that usually signals labor within 24 hours or so.

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    Activities for this week:

    Perineal massage has huge benefits. You can start this process now! Pressing down on the area between your vagina and rectum to stretch the skin will help add the elastisity that will minimize tearing when your baby’s head crowns. You can do this practice as often as you like, even right up until you are in labor. Your doctor may continue the massage during the pushing stage of delivery. Tearing is very common and will require a few stitches, but likely will heal easily and have no lasting consequences.

    Only 5% of babies are born on their due date, so it is wise to expect baby to arrive at any point! You should make sure you have the basics on hand by now (i.e. a good carseat, a few outfits and blankets, any supplies for breastfeeding or formulla feeding, diapers and wipes, and a safe place for your baby to sleep, like a crib or bassinet). Don’t worry if you feel like you are slightly unprepared for your baby’s arrival, especially if this is your first baby. There will likely be a few things that will come up that you haven’t thought of (nursing cami, anyone?), but rest assured there will be plenty of time after the baby is born to purchase anything you might be missing. Your local hospital can likely help supply some of the basics, like diapers and wipes.

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    Meeting your baby face-to-face will come soon enough! Meanwhile, rest when you can, and soak up all of the glorious emotions and nesting activities likely to come during week 37 pregnancy!

    Featured photo credit: 8 Month Pregnancy/Bayu Aditya via flickr.com

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    Published on May 7, 2021

    20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

    20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

    From coaching martial arts to children as young as four years old, I very quickly came to the understanding that if I wanted to help kids progress their skills, I needed to find a way to help them focus more consistently in my class.

    There are two key ways I found when it came to improving my students’ level of focus:

    1. Make what we’re doing more interesting. Nothing is off the table here—from having ninja clowns on the rampage in a lesson to including popular games with a martial arts theme, tapping into the student’s love of fun to help them focus.
    2. Introduce brain breaks.

    Brain breaks are small mental breaks that help the kids stay more focused. Think of the brain as a fuel gauge that shows the information you can consciously hold in your mind at any given moment. When the kids are focused and working hard on their tasks, the meter is usually full. They can easily concentrate and pass experiences into their long-term memory.

    But when the needle starts to drop, you may observe that your kids are feeling anxious or looking restless. New information, experiences, and knowledge are not getting processed from the staging area or working memory into the long-term memory.[1]

    It’s here that brain breaks make the most difference, as they allow us to “top-up the tank” or reset the gauge so that we can continue to learn and focus and at a higher level.

    If you’ve been home tutoring, you’ll appreciate that brain breaks can help kids in many ways. They can reduce stress and frustration. Think of those times when you’re helping your kids solve a difficult problem. It’s taxing for you both and when compounded with the energy loss after a day at school or watching TV. The stress effect can be compounded, and it’s here that brain breaks can be a lifesaver.[2]

    The following is a selection of brain break ideas for kids. You’ll see that some are physical activities while others are more relaxing. It’s always great to test them out to see which ones connect the best with your children.

    It’s okay to repeat the same brain breaks. Having a clear name and mission to a break can help keep your child excited, knowing that they’ll have the opportunity to take part in a future round of the activity.

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    Active Brain Breaks

    Here are some active brain breaks for kids that you can try out.

    1. Swapsies

    Have the participants stand behind a chair. Call out a character trait, like “everyone with brown eyes.” You then swap places with someone else who has the same characteristic. If you have nothing that matches, you stay put!

    Examples: “Everyone with trainers on.” “Everyone who is left-handed.” “Everyone who is wearing yellow.”

    2. Dance Party

    Put five or six different types of songs on Spotify, including a classic like “baby shark or the hamster dance.” Dim the lights if possible and have the kids dance to the tunes. Then, change the tunes and change the dance style. It’s silly and fun.

    3. Freeze Dance

    Similar to Dance Party except that when the music stops, students have to stay perfectly still until the music restarts. You can make this even more fun by trying to make the students smile. If they smile, they are out and have to sit down.

    4. Keep It Up

    Students must keep a balloon from touching the floor. You can add multiple balloons. You can make it more competitive by having different balloons of two different colors and split people into teams. Whoever keeps the balloons up the longest or the team with the most balloons in the air with a timer of 60 seconds wins.

    5. Simon Says

    This brain break for kids is an old favorite. You can also mix it up with martial arts moves, Fortnite dances, superhero moves, etc.

    6. Animal Movement

    Move like different animals. It’s fun for younger children. We use Flamingo where you stand on one leg, crawl like a bear, stand like a meerkat, run like a cheetah, and walk like a penguin.

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    7. Find It Fast

    “Find It Fast” is a scavenger hunt variation. Call an item out in the room and kids have to stand by it. For example, find a clock, find something with a face, find something smelly, find some money, find a phone, etc.

    8. The Frog

    Physical Challenges can be excellent fun. We have one in the martial arts class called “The Frog” where you squat like a frog, then lean forward so your head and feet are off the floor. These are all old yoga poses, so have a look through a booklet or website for some safe ideas. Other examples are grabbing your nose with your left hand and touching your knee with your right elbow.

    9. Pizza Delivery Time

    Give the students paper plates and tell them to hold the plates above their head on a flat hand. They then run around the room and try to keep the plate in their hand. You can make it more challenging by having other students try to knock others’ plates off. There’s usually a 3-star jump penalty if your plate touches the floor.

    10. Limbo

    We use martial arts belts and the students take turns going underneath the belts. Fun music creates an awesome atmosphere here.

    11. Human Knot

    Split the group of people and have everyone link hands under and over. That’s making knots between everyone in the group. Have the other students try to untangle them and return everyone back into a circle.

    12. Feather Balance

    This brain break for kids works well with gentle music, and you can use a balloon or a straw if you don’t have a feather handy.

    13. Stack them high

    The students should have plastic cups and paper squares. The goal is to make a tower as high as possible, or it could be to make a triangle or even a pyramid.

    Relaxing Brain Breaks

    We talked about brain breaks for kids that are being used to energize the students. But they can also be used to calm and relax them. We’re more familiar with the term mindfulness, but it’s the same idea. These are brain breaks for kids that reduce stress and anxiety.

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    14. Meditation

    Meditation

    is a popular way to reduce anxiety. There are lots of great examples already pre-recorded on YouTube that you can follow along with. Below is a useful classroom meditation example.

    15. Kaleidoscope

    Kaleidoscopes are fun ways to relax. They are mesmerizing and like a peaceful vortex that sucks you into them. Below is a great example of a visual online one you can use.

    16. Reading/Listening to a Story

    When I surveyed the members of our martial arts club about how their kids employ brain breaks at home, there was a clear winner among the families—listening to a story or reading a story. The feedback was that the process of daydreaming a little helps the kids to recharge. But it goes without saying that the story needs to be engaging.

    17. Doodling

    My personal favorite way to brain break as a kid was to doodle. Doodling gives your child a few minutes to draw anything they want. It can be calming for them, and it’s a lot more fun if you have different types of pens or crayons available to use. Add some soft music, and you have a simple way to take some time to relax.

    18. Coloring Sheets

    Coloring sheets are another way to relax the mind. There’s lots of great coloring in pads available, but here are some links to public resources shared on the internet that are great examples.

    19. Deep Breathing

    Deep breathing

    is an epic way to help your child slow down. It is a quick way to relieve anxiety so that they feel more ready for the next task ahead.

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    Try this: put your hands on your tummy, breathe in through the nose, and feel your belly expand like a balloon. Hold it here, then slowly breathe out through the mouth while feeling your stomach get smaller. Repeat this 10 times. Use the following counts: breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and breath out for 4 seconds.

    20. Going Outside

    Go outside was the second most popular response from our parent’s survey about brain breaks for kids at home. Fresh air always feels nice. You can combine this with a treasure hunt, looking for different colored cars, types of birds, or even types of trees, if you’re familiar with these.

    My personal favorite is using a mushroom spotting app on our phones and finding a mushroom or toadstool, then using the app to identify its name. This is surprisingly engaging for children. But a few safety rules about not touching them is important. It gives kids a change of scenery and helps revitalize the senses, providing a welcome break from their homework.

    How Often Should You Introduce Brain Breaks?

    The key to brain breaks is their timing. If you can introduce them before you notice that your kids are entering deep fatigue or their loss of focus has set in. You’ll find a great balance between breaks and effort.

    I’ve observed from my martial arts coaching that younger students have a smaller amount of working memory than older kids. My formula is for five minutes of technical training, we provide five minutes of brain breaks for students under seven years old. Plus, we coach to 15 minutes of training to five minutes of brain breaks for children under 12 years.

    Final Thoughts

    Implementing calming brain breaks for kids is a really efficient way of introducing brain breaks. You have a quick way to allow your students to learn about regulating themselves. Balancing their mind and energy is a useful skill, and you can take this with you everywhere you go.

    Our martial arts center revolutionized our approach to coaching by using brain breaks for kids. We found that although we were teaching less technical skills, there was now consistent progress from the students. Plus, everyone was less anxious, happier, and are having more fun. This is a win overall.

    If you’ve been having challenges with your kids focusing at home, maybe try a mixture of the calming and active breaks to see which types work best for your kids.

    Featured photo credit: Robert Collins via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] SimplyPsychology: Working Memory Model
    [2] BrainFacts.org: Kids Need Brain Breaks — And So Do Adults

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