Weeks 37 to 40

You’ve almost made it! At week 38, you’re considered full term and by week 40, you’ve reached the official due date! Only 5 percent of babies are actually born on their due date, but don’t worry, your baby will arrive soon.

About your baby

Illustration of baby's development weeks 37 to 40Your baby’s basic physical development is now complete.

Your baby will start to move down into the pelvic cavity around week 38 (a process called engagement). The lungs are now mature and your baby is practicing for his or her first breath of air. The umbilical cord is 20 inches long and will support baby through birth until the lungs take over.

Your baby will spend the next few weeks putting on weight. At birth, most full-term babies weigh between 6 pounds and 9 pounds and measure 19 to 21 inches long. But healthy babies come in many different shapes and sizes.

About you

Breathing might be a little easier as the baby drops into the pelvis in preparation for birth (called lightening).

Try to relax and enjoy these last few weeks and days before your baby comes. Go see a movie. Read. Take walks.

Near the end of your pregnancy, your practitioner may perform a pelvic exam as part of your prenatal visit to check your cervix and the position of the baby. Your cervix will begin to thin out (efface) and open (dilate) by the time you go into labor. For some women, these changes begin weeks before their due date, as their bodies prepare for labor and birth.

What’s normal:

  • Labor could begin at any time. Review the signs and stages of labor.
  • At this size, your baby does not have much room to move around so you will probably notice less big movement than before.
  • If your pregnancy goes beyond 41 to 42 weeks, your doctor may order tests to determine whether to induce labor or continue to wait to for your baby to come on his own.

Tips for staying healthy

  • Take a lot of walks if you feel up to it. Get tips for exercising during pregnancy.
  • Practice squatting to keep your leg muscles strong.
  • Do your Kegel exercises.
  • Get lots of rest. When labor starts, you’ll need all your energy (and you may not sleep for a while).
  • Cook and freeze healthy meals ahead of time and have a stock of groceries on hand. Check out the restaurants in your neighborhood that offer take-out. Find out if there are any grocery delivery services in your area.
  • Ask a friend or family member to help with housework, errands, watching older children, and other day-to-day tasks. Let people know what you need and take them up on their offers to help.

Your to-do list

  • Pack your bags for the hospital using our hospital checklist.
  • Order diaper service or buy diapers so you have them when you and your baby come home from the hospital.
  • Use the getting ready for baby checklist to make sure you’ve covered all the basics.
  • Learn how to care for yourself and your baby after your baby is born.


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