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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 September 21, 2018

    11 Smart Pieces of Advice to Help You Thrive as a Single Mother

    11 Smart Pieces of Advice to Help You Thrive as a Single Mother

    Becoming a mother is one of the most difficult challenges a woman can take on in her life. Whether this happens the “natural” way, with the help of science, or through adoption, being in charge of nurturing another human being is a herculean task to take on.

    Typically, when we think about parenthood, we imagine two parents sharing the responsibility and having each other to lean on. However, according to the 2016 U.S. Census Bureau, 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 are being raised by a single mother.[1] This is a significant portion of the population that often gets overlooked.

    If you are one of these mothers raising your children on your own, you are undoubtedly aware of the additional challenges that motherhood has placed upon you, including the constant struggle to find sufficient time, energy, money, and support.

    For single mothers who find themselves bogged down by their daily responsibilities and struggle to stay afloat, don’t be fooled by the belief that you have to do all. It is possible to thrive and live as a single mother if you take advantage of all available resources and adjust your priorities based on your situation.

    1. Find your community and ask for help

    As the sole caretaker of your kids, going through the successes and struggles of parenthood can feel isolating and lonely. You have probably developed a strong sense of independence because you’ve had to go at it alone.

    Being self-reliant is necessary in many situations that you have to face, but do not fool yourself into thinking that you don’t need support from others. If you have family nearby, strengthen your relationship with them by visiting and talking more often. Find time to catch up with old friends or co-workers, and don’t assume they don’t want to hang out if they are not parents themselves.

    Would you prefer finding mom friends[2] who have more in common with you? Use resources like apps, Facebook groups, and community events to meet local moms in your area.

    After you have established a support group that you can depend on, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is NOT a sign of weakness or incompetency to admit you can’t do it all, and others are probably more willing to lend a hand than you think.

    If you feel uncomfortable burdening others, suggest trading favors such as taking turns babysitting. Because after all, helping is each other is what community is all about.

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    2. Make peace with the past

    Before you can move forward, you must make peace with your past and not let it define you or rule your life. Whether your journey to single motherhood was through divorce, death, or never having a relationship the father, it is crucial that you leave behind the feelings of abandonment or betrayal you may be struggling with.

    You cannot change the past and the hurt you had to endure, but you can use the strength that you gained from overcoming those obstacles to work towards making the best life for yourself and your child. Learn from the past but live in the present and look towards the future.

    3. Make plans and set goals

    The daily repetition of trying to balance work and home life can make you feel like you are on operating on autopilot. However, it is imperative to set goals for yourself and to keep working towards self-improvement.

    In your personal life, you can set a fitness goal (train for a 5k), a reading goal (read 20 books in a year), or a travel goal (take a trip to Europe). At your job, you can set career goals such as gain leadership experience, get a promotion, or earn a degree or certificate.

    Spend time creating a realistic plan to on how you can go about achieving these goals. Not only will working towards these goals make you a more well-rounded and successful person, they will bring more purpose and fulfillment to your life.

    4. Look for role models

    A great way to jump start your plans for the future is to find a role model or mentor who is further along in their life or career experience. This person can be a great resource when you need guidance on what types of goals to set for yourself and how to achieve them.

    It’s also important to have people to turn to for encouragement during difficult seasons of life. Someone who has been through it before can provide the most genuine reassurance that tough times will get better and that staying positive is best approach.

    5. Rethink your priorities

    Single parents have twice as many responsibilities to take care of, so priorities and expectations must be adjusted accordingly.

    Know that you are not superwoman and striving for a perfectly clean home, no dirty laundry, and home-cooked meals for your kids every day is not a reasonable expectation. It’s okay to take shortcuts sometimes, like serving your kids cereal for dinner or waiting until the next day to wash the dishes.

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    Don’t compare yourself to anyone else and let go of the guilt that you feel for being the only parent that your kids can count on. Give yourself a break and don’t sweat the small stuff.

    6. Make time for me time

    Even though it can be difficult to find, making time for yourself is critical to maintaining your sanity and well-being. Without a built-in partner to take over, finding time to be away from the kids must be done intentionally and planned in advance.

    If you are sharing custody, use the time away from your kids not only doing productive things but also making sure you are taking care of yourself. Sleep, exercise, and balanced diet are not things that can get pushed to the bottom of the priority list. Also make time for fun activities, such as hobbies and creative outlets.

    Even though being a mother is the most important job you have, don’t let it be the only thing that defines you. Time for yourself is more difficult to find if you are the sole caretaker of your kids.

    Use the resources that you have to devote time to self-care, and you and your kids will thank you for it in the long run.

    7. Stay organized

    With so many things to juggle, great organizational skills are an absolute must in order to keep everything moving smoothly. Use apps such as Mint for your finances, Mealime for meal planning, and Cozi as a family organizer for everything from appointments and shopping lists to after school activities.

    Maintain constant contact if you are sharing custody so that it is clearly communicated who will be responsible for what when it comes to your kids. Follow consistent routines in the morning and nighttime so that your kids also know what to expect on a daily basis.

    8. Be flexible (Don’t be a control freak)

    Although it is important to be prepared and stay organized, things don’t always go according to plan.

    When kids get sick and have to stay home or babysitters cancel at the last minute, allow for flexibility by having a contingency plan for childcare and with your employer.

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    For example, make a list of people you can call when you need last minute childcare, or talk to your boss in advance about working from home when emergencies come up.

    Most of all, don’t let unexpected changes stress you out and ruin your day.

    9. Learn to say no (Don’t feel guilty)

    Single mothers have limitations in time, energy and resources that families with two parents wouldn’t be able to understand. Because of these circumstances, it’s important you let go of feelings of guilt and stop trying to do everything and be everywhere.

    You don’t have to say yes to every single birthday party your child is invited to. Your kids don’t have to be involved in sports and extracurricular activities every night of the week.

    Limit the things you do to only the ones that are the most enjoyable and meaningful for you and your family. Doing more things does not make you a better mother; simply a more tired one.

    10. Live within your means

    When you have to raise your family on a single income, budgeting and spending within your means becomes more important than ever.

    If you have outstanding debt that is accruing interest, make it a priority to pay those off as soon as possible. Outlining a budget is the best way to visualize how much money is being spent every month on various things and what is left over.

    Find ways to save money on the necessities by looking for sales at the grocery store, buying some things secondhand, planning out meals.

    After the necessary bills are paid, determine how much can be spent on luxury items such as eating out, vacations, and going to the movies.

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    Don’t let finances be a source of anxiety for you and your family. Keep your bank account in good shape while teaching your kids how to spend money responsibly at the same time.

    11. Spend quality time with your kids

    The time you spend with your kids is so precious and much more limited as a single mother. Make the time that you spend with your kids count.

    Rather than sitting in front of the TV, take them on fun and budget-friendly outings to the park, the playground, or a museum. Use meal times as the perfect excuse to ask them about what they are learning in school and the friends they spend time with.

    When your kids ask you to play with them, look at it as a privilege and an opportunity to bond with them, rather than a distraction or waste of time. Be present when you are with them, with no work or multitasking on your mind. Your relationship with your kids will absolutely reap the benefits.

    Final thoughts

    Being a single mother is not an easy job. That’s why it’s important to use all the resources available to you in order to make this job a little bit easier.

    Using technology, an organization system and a supportive community are just a few examples of things you should utilize to your benefit. It’s also important to shift your mindset and be more practical when it comes to things like priorities and finances.

    Most of all, don’t forget about your own self care. Only when you take care of yourself can you best take care of the people you love.

    Single mothers are some of the most hard-working people out there, and you deserve to have a happy and fulfilling life.

    Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

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