Your baby's development at 37-40 weeks of pregnancy
At 37 weeks, your pregnancy is considered full-term.
The baby's gut (digestive system) now contains meconium – the sticky, green substance that will form your baby's first poo after birth. It may include bits of the lanugo (fine hair) that covered your baby earlier in pregnancy.
If your baby does a poo during labour, which can sometimes happen, the amniotic fluid will contain meconium. If this is the case, your midwife will want to monitor your baby closely as it could mean he or she is stressed.
In the last weeks, some time before birth, the baby's head should move down into your pelvis. When your baby's head moves down like this, it is said to be "engaged". When this happens, you may notice that your bump seems to move down a little. Sometimes the head doesn't engage until labour starts.
The average baby weighs around 3-4kg by now.
The lanugo that covered your baby's body is now almost all gone, although some babies may have small patches of it when they're born.
Due to the hormones in your body, the baby's genitals may look swollen when they're born, but they will soon settle down to their normal size.
Your baby is ready to be born, and you'll be meeting him or her some time in the next couple of weeks.
Your body at 37-40 weeks pregnant
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 between 38 and 42 weeks of pregnancy. Your midwife or doctor should give you information about your options if you go beyond 41 weeks.
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
Signs that labour has started
Find out what happens during labour and birth.
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.
Be ready for the birth
When to go to the maternity unit and what to expect
Find out at what point during your labour you should contact your antenatal team, and what to expect when you get there.
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 giving 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.
Special care for ill or premature babies
What to expect if your baby is born early, or is ill and needs to be cared for in a special care baby unit.
Warning signs during late 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 and protein in the urine are signs of pre-eclampsia, which can be life-threatening if untreated.
Severe itching at any stage of pregnancy can be a sign of the rare liver disorder obstetric cholestasis.
Pregnancy week by week
Find out what's happening to you and your baby at:
0-8 weeks pregnant
9, 10, 11, 12 weeks pregnant
13, 14, 15, 16 weeks pregnant
17, 18, 19, 20 weeks pregnant
21, 22, 23, 24 weeks pregnant
25, 26, 27, 28 weeks pregnant
29, 30, 31, 32 weeks pregnant
33, 34, 35, 36 weeks pregnant
Over 40 weeks pregnant