Welcome to Week 37
Your Baby: Growing Everyday
Just a few weeks before your due date, your baby averages around 6 1/2 pounds (3 kg) and measures about 20 to 21 inches (51 to 53 cm) long. During these last days inside the uterus, your baby continues to grow and mature. The fine touches are taking place now to prepare for the journey out into the new world!
As anxious as you may be to meet your baby face-to-face, you still have a little time left to feel them move about inside you. Each time they kick or jab you with an elbow, stop and put your hand on your stomach. Remember the movement and record it in your head. It's a precious time, and who knows if and when it will happen again?
Your Body: Gearing Up for Delivery
As you near the end of your pregnancy, you may start noticing signs and feeling symptoms of false labor. They can set in one month or one day before you actually give birth -- only time will tell. The question is, how will you know when it's real -- and when it's not?
Generally, your health care provider will be able to tell if you are in labor by looking at your cervix to determine if you are effaced and dilated. Often, it can be hard to tell if you are in true labor or having false labor. Here are some tips that may help you to tell true labor from false labor:
The Real Thing (True Labor)
- After timing the contractions, you notice that they are coming consistently and getting closer together.
- Each contraction is lasting 30 to 70 seconds and getting longer.
- The contractions do not go away even if you change your level of activity.
- The feeling of contractions during labor radiate in your lower back and upper abdomen.
- The intensity of the contractions becomes greater as time progresses. They even stop you from continuing a conversation.
False Start (False Labor)
- The contractions continue to be irregular or have a varied pattern. The contractions begin to slow down or are spaced further apart.
- There is no consistent length or intensity of contractions and no pattern develops.
- No clear change or increase in the intensity of the contractions.
- May feel the contraction lower in abdomen without that feeling radiating to the back.
- Changing activities affects the contractions.
These are the most common findings between true and false labor, but every woman is different. You may still not know if you are in true labor. It is always better to call your provider or go to the hospital for guidance.
On Note: On a Scale Of 1 to 10
If you have yet to experience labor and delivery firsthand, this cervical changes during labor simulator is a must-see. The two images show a cross-section of female reproductive system and a frontal view of a woman's cervix. As you move the bar at the bottom of the scale, you will see how a cervix dilates from 1 to 10 centimeters.
Having a baby is one of the most intimate and private experiences for a couple. That said, there are probably plenty of people in the waiting room or across the country who are anxiously waiting to hear the good news. While your mind is clear and your hands are free, prepare a list of friends and family you want to call from the hospital so that you and your spouse don't have to go hunting for numbers.
Reviewed By: LaQuita Martinez, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Emory Johns Creek Hospital, Alpharetta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.