Your 37th week of pregnancy

Congratulations! Even though you have about three weeks to go, if your baby weighs over five and one half pounds and you finish the 37th week, your baby is considered "full term." In most cases, nothing will be done to stop your labor once it starts.

You may be counting the days, but remember that only about five percent of babies are born on their due date. Ultrasound due dates are no better and may be more inaccurate than your own menstrual date if performed after about 24 weeks.

Now is the time to make sure that all laboratory tests that were performed in recent weeks have been recorded on your chart. A copy of your prenatal chart should already be at the hospital or birth center and you should be pre-registered by this time. If you have a birth plan, make sure it is copied and sent to the hospital or birthing center.

If you have not taken a tour of the labor and birthing area, now is a good time:

  • Inquire about the procedures for admission. (Will your partner have to go somewhere to sign you in or has that been taken care of? Can you bring favorite foods to the unit with you? Popsicles are nice treats in labor.)
  • Ask to see the bed. (Is it a double? Does it "break" in the middle? Is it comfortable? Will stirrups be used?) Consider bringing your own pillows if the hospital allows this.
  • Ask to see the bathrooms in the labor area. (Are water births offered? Can you labor in the tub? Can you shower while in labor?)
  • Will you be encouraged/allowed to assume any position to give birth, or is the standard lithotomy position favored?
  • Ask about the use of birthing balls, birthing stools.
  • Ask to see the fetal monitor and see how it is attached and how it is read by the staff. Is there a central monitoring area at the desk? (Is that where most of the nurses appear to be, or are they with their patients?)
  • Check to see if your prenatal chart is on the unit yet, and if not, ask how that chart gets delivered to the unit.
  • Ask about grandparent, family, friend and sibling visitations.
  • Ask about security. (How will you know the people who have the right to come to get your baby?)
  • If you are breastfeeding, will your baby ever be offered a bottle or pacifier?
  • Will your baby's newborn exam take place at your bedside? What blood tests and medications are "routine"?
  • If you plan to have your baby boy circumcised, ask to see the consent and the literature that explains the procedure. You can change your mind at any time. Ask who performs the circumcisions and where they are done and if your baby will receive anesthesia. Some parents are allowed to observe. Although difficult to watch, you may want to speak to your baby while it is being done or at least observe the procedure so you will be more informed about care and potential complications.
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