Your Baby’s Development:
If your baby were to be born during the 37th week of gestation, your obstetrician may no longer consider him or her premature. He or she weighs roughly six-and-a-half to seven pounds and is about 20 inches long, roughly the size of a large cantaloupe. The lungs are ready to breathe air and the digestive system is ready to handle breastmilk and/or baby formula. For the next few weeks, your baby will continue to gain weight in the womb until he or she is ready to make her debut.
What You Should Expect:
You will be visiting your obstetrician weekly at this point, and he or she will start checking you for signs of labor. This involves a pelvic exam during which the doctor gently feels your cervix for effacement and dilation. Effacement describes the thickness of your cervix, which thins out as your baby puts weight on your pelvic area. Dilation refers to the size of the opening in your cervix and at the time of birth your cervix will eventually open up to 10 centimeters to allow your baby’s head passage into the birth canal. You may start thinning and dilating at any point now, but if you don’t, you should not be alarmed. Each woman is different. Your cervix may thin and open over the course of several weeks, or it may not thin and dilate at all until you are in active labor.
Related Content: The Benefits of Delayed Cord Clamping
In the past, the common practice was to pass Dad the surgical scissors and have him perform a quick snip just before the newborn babe was whisked away to be cleaned, measured and dosed with vitamin K. Any delay in cord cutting was viewed as unnecessary in promoting general health for the baby or mother. However, recent research suggests that a delay of even three minutes can have a significant positive impact on infants.