The 3rd trimester: Week 37

Have you thought about what kind of labour you want yet? Whether you are delivering your baby in hospital, in a clinic or at home, an active birth is the ideal and most natural birthing option for women with low-risk, uncomplicated pregnancies.

Your baby

Your baby could now be born at any time, but the longer she stays in your womb, the more prepared she will be - right now she is putting on fat and is receiving antibodies through the placenta to assist her immune system.

She is also beginning to form meconium in her intestines, made up of baby by-products such as shed lanugo and amniotic fluid. This greenish-black fluid will be your baby's first bowel movement.

Your body

When "it's time", researchers believe the lungs of the now-developed foetus release a protein that sets off a chain of hormonal reactions, causing contractions to begin.

This may be the week that you expel the cervical-mucus plug that has been protecting your uterus all these months. Otherwise known as a "show", the plug may be tinged with blood and signals the beginning of labour. Other pre-labour signs include contractions, backache, abdominal pain and the urge to empty your bowels more frequently.

If baby hasn't settled with her head down and her tummy facing your back, you can encourage her to turn through special exercises, acupuncture, homeopathy or an external cephalic version (ECV), which involves abdominal manipulation and massage.

For the guys

What is Active Labour?

The aim is to increase the potential for a natural birth - but not to rule out medical intervention - and to be aware of the wide range of choices at your disposal.

Women are encouraged to move around and choose comfortable, supported upright positions in labour, such as standing, walking, kneeling, sitting or squatting.

Tip of the week

Signs of labour:

From now on, you can expect labour at any time, so let's remind you of what to expect, with signs that labour may be starting soon:

Lightening or "dropping": The foetus usually descends into the pelvis two to four weeks before delivery. Your stomach will look lower and you'll typically need to pee more often - there's also an increase in pressure on your rectum.

Expulsion of the mucous plug: This can occur anywhere from one to two weeks or just hours before labour - or not at all. If tinged with blood, the expulsion is called "bloody show".

Braxton-Hicks contractions or "false labour": Mild, irregular cramping and tightness that lasts a few seconds, often starting three weeks or more before delivery.

Water breaking: It is caused by the amniotic sac rupturing on its own before labour starts, releasing a trickle - or a gush - of warm fluid. However, this is not as common as you might believe.

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