At 37 weeks, you might be pretty much over being pregnant, so hey, welcoming your baby three weeks before your due date might not be such a bad thing, right?
While previously considered “term,” a baby born at 37 weeks is now classed as “early term” by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
So why did they make this change, and what does it mean if you give birth at 37 weeks?
Fear not, mama, we’ve got the facts. Keep reading for our guide to babies born at 37 weeks.
In this article 📝
- What does a baby born at 37 weeks look like?
- What happens if a baby is born at 37 weeks?
- Do babies born at 37 weeks need NICU?
- Will my baby have to stay in hospital if born at 37 weeks?
- Is baby fully developed at 37 weeks?
- Is it safe to deliver at 37 weeks?
What does a baby born at 37 weeks look like?
At 37 weeks, your baby is packing on the pounds, so they’ll be similar in length and weight to a full-term baby.
The average baby born at 37 weeks weight is around 6.5 pounds and will measure around 19 inches head to toe.
What happens if a baby is born at 37 weeks?
A baby born at 37 weeks will be given the usual checks to monitor their condition – sometimes known as an Apgar test.
This is a quick method to check baby’s overall health by assessing their color, respiratory effort, heart rate, reflexes, and muscle tone.
Do babies born at 37 weeks need NICU?
Sometimes, babies born at 37 weeks will need to stay in NICU for a short while, but it’s quite unlikely.
The list of typical baby born at 37 weeks complications is minimal, so unless there is a medical condition or birth trauma, a baby born at 37 weeks will often be able to stay with mom until it’s time to go home.
The switch in classification from “term” to “early term” in 2012 indicated that babies born at 37 weeks were having more initial issues than babies born at 38 weeks or later, but the incidence of serious health risks is still very low.
Will my baby have to stay in hospital if born at 37 weeks?
Maybe, but maybe not!
This will vary on a case-by-case basis, just as it does for full-term babies.
Sometimes babies born at 37 weeks will face some initial difficulties, but they are often short-term and easily resolved.
If they are feeding, breathing, and keeping themselves warm with no assistance, you’ll be good to go.
If you give birth by C-section, it’s normal to have a short stay in the hospital while you recover from surgery and start the healing process.
This can be a great time to ask the medical team around you any questions you may have about your little one’s condition and seek advice around breastfeeding or pumping, if necessary.
Is baby fully developed at 37 weeks?
Yes and no.
Babies will continue to put on weight, their internal systems will mature, and their brain and lungs will grow and develop every day until they’re born.
So, being born three weeks before their due date means they’re still a little premature.
While everything is where it should be at 37 weeks, it’s just a case of practice makes perfect.
Is it safe to deliver at 37 weeks?
In some cases, it might be necessary to deliver your baby at 37 weeks due to an underlying maternal or fetal condition.
This will be done under closely monitored conditions at your hospital so that both your and your baby’s safety is assured.
If you go into labor spontaneously at 37 weeks, it doesn’t mean it’s not safe.
But it’s good for all mamas-to-be to know the signs of early labor so you can birth your baby as safely as possible.
You may be in early labor if you notice any unusual cramping or contractions that don’t go away, are getting closer together, or are more painful, you lose your mucus plug, or your water breaks.
At this point in pregnancy, anything can happen, so don’t be afraid to call your doctor if you have any concerning symptoms.
This could be it!