You and your baby at 37-40 weeks pregnant
In these last weeks, some time before birth, the baby’s head may move down into your pelvis and is said to be ‘engaged’. Sometimes the baby’s head doesn’t engage until labour has started. The amniotic fluid now turns into waste, called meconium, in the baby’s intestines, and the soft hair (lanugo) that covered your baby’s body is now almost all gone.
When you are around 37 weeks pregnant, if it’s your first pregnancy, you may feel more comfortable as your baby moves down ready to be born, although you will probably feel increased pressure in your lower abdomen. If it’s not your first pregnancy, the baby may not move down until labour.
Most women will go into labour when they are 38 to 42 weeks pregnant. Your midwife or doctor should give you information about your options if you go to more than 41 weeks pregnant.
Call your hospital or midwife at any time if you have any worries about your baby or about labour and birth.
Find out what to expect if your baby is overdue.
Get ready for labour
What happens in labour
Find out how to tell if labour is starting, and what happens in each of the three stages of labour.
Pain relief during labour
Be prepared by learning about all the ways you can relieve pain during labour so you can decide what’s best for you.
What your birth partner can do
Your birth partner, whether it's the baby's father or a friend or relative, can support you during labour and birth.
Common concerns about birth
A breech birth is when a baby is born bottom first, which is more complicated than a head-first birth.
A caesarean section is when you have surgery to deliver your baby.
Your maternity team may recommend that your labour be started artificially. This is called induction.
If your baby is born too soon
Labour that starts before 37 weeks is considered premature. If your baby is born early, he or she may need special care in hospital.
Warning signs during pregnancy
Bleeding from your vagina may be a sign of a serious problem, so seek help.
High blood pressure and pre-eclampsia
High blood pressure in pregnancy can be a sign of pre-eclampsia, which can be life-threatening if untreated.
Severe itching can be a sign of the rare liver disorder obstetric cholestasis.
You can save a to do list online, to keep track of all the essentials for your pregnancy.
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