null Baby Development by Week | Weeks 37-40
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UnityPoint Clinic Kenyon Road - Walk-In

800 Kenyon Road
Suite R
Fort Dodge, Iowa 50501

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Weeks 37- 40

Baby's Growth and Development

  • Skin is pink and smooth.
  • Soft, fine downy hair is gone, except for some on the back and shoulders.
  • Vernix caseosa white creamy matter is disappearing, but there may be some in the skin folds.
  • Lungs finish maturing.
  • Bones of the head are firm, but flexible enough to pass through the birth canal without harm.
  • Weight about 6 to 9 pounds and is 19 to 21 inches long.

Your Body

As the pelvic bones open slightly to make room for your baby's head to pass, the stretching may cause pain in the hip joint, as well as in the back and front of the pelvis.

Mucus Plug

  • Blocks the cervix to stop germs from getting into the womb.
  • Passing a mucus plug could be a sign that your cervix is opening and that your body is getting ready for birth. Labor could still be hours, days, or even weeks away.
  • Often clear, a little pink or blood colored, and can be stringy or sticky.
  • You may not notice the loss of your mucus plug since there is often more vaginal discharge while pregnant.
  • If this is normal in color, there is no urgent need to call your health care provider. Report it at your next visit with your doctor.
  • Call your doctor right away if you sudden have bright red vaginal bleeding like a period.


  • Often the head, or baby's bottom, will drop down into the pelvis 2 to 3 weeks before birth.
  • This lightening may not happen until labor starts.
  • Baby's head now puts more pressure on your bladder.
  • This pressure may cause more leg cramps, pain in the thighs and aching in your pelvis.
  • Pressure the baby can make your cervix become softer and thinner, this is called effacement.

When to call the office or go to the hospital

  • Decrease in the baby's movements: If you notice the baby is very still, drink a cold glass of water; lie down on your left side and focus on the baby. If you do not notice 5 movements in 1 hour, call the office.
  • Contractions: If your contractions become longer and stronger and closer together, time them. You should go to the hospital when your contractions are 5 minutes apart, lasting for 1 minute and have been like that for 2 to 3 hours, unless taught otherwise.
  • Ruptured membranes: If you notice leakage of fluid from the vagina, either a gush or a trickle and a pad is needed, you will need to be checked. Amniotic fluid may be clear, slightly milky, blood-tinged or greenish in color. It does not smell like urine.

What to Bring to the Hospital

For Mother:

  • Health insurance card
  • Nursing bra (for breast feeding mothers)
  • Well-fitting bra (for bottle feeding mothers)
  • Clothing for going home

Optional, the hospital does have these items

  • Comb, hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, and conditioner
  • Nightgown and robe
  • Slippers

For Baby:

  • Clothing for going home
  • 1 or 2 blankets (depending on what is it like outside)
  • Infant car seat (required by law)

True Verses False Labor

Type of Change

False Labor


Timing of contractions Often are not regular and do not get closer together (called Braxton Hicks contractions) Come at regular time frames and, as time goes on, get closer together
Change with movement Contractions may stop when you walk or rest, or may even stop with a change of position Contractions last, even with movement
Location of contractions Often felt in the stomach Often felt in the back coming around from the front
Strength of contractions Often weak and do not get much stronger Steady increase in strength

Care during labor


  • We often watch your progress during labor using belts on your stomach and monitors which show contractions and the baby's heart rate.
  • Monitors show that the baby is doing well during labor, and it can help show problems early.
  • Unless there is a concern, you may ask your nurse to remove the monitors so you can stretch or take a walk.


  • IV lines can be lifesaving, like when there is heavy bleeding.
  • IV fluids can help prevent dehydration and help blood flow to the placenta and to your baby.
  • Medicines that help with labor pain can be given through the IV.


  • An Episiotomy is a cut of the opening of the vagina and perineum.
  • Sometimes just before delivery as the baby's head is showing, this cut prevents a large vaginal tear.
  • This cut can speed up the delivery of a baby who is having problems.
  • Episiotomy is no longer a part of each birth, and many women do not need it.
  • It is not always possible to know if you will need this before the baby is born.