WHAT IS FULL TERM PREGNANCY?
Pregnancy usually lasts about 40 weeks (280 days) from the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP) to your due date. Your due date is the date that your provider thinks you will have your baby.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) define a full-term pregnancy as a pregnancy that lasts between 39 weeks, 0 days and 40 weeks 6 days. This means your pregnancy lasts between 1 week before your due date and 1 week after your due date. Babies born full term have the best chance of being healthy, compared with babies born earlier or later.
ACOG and SMFM use these definitions to describe term pregnancies:
Early term: Your baby is born between 37 weeks, 0 days and 38 weeks, 6 days.
Full term: Your baby is born between 39 weeks, 0 days and 40 weeks, 6 days.
Late term: Your baby is born between 41 weeks, 0 days and 41 weeks, 6 days.
Post term: Your baby is born after 42 weeks, 0 days.
YOUR BABY AT 37 WEEKS
At 37 weeks, your pregnancy is considered full-term. The average baby weighs around 3-4kg by now. Your baby is ready to be born, and you'll be meeting them some time in the next few weeks.
Your 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.
YOU AT 37 WEEKS
When you're around 37 weeks pregnant, if it's your first pregnancy, your baby moves down ready to be born. You may feel more comfortable when this happens, and you'll probably also feel increased pressure in your lower abdomen.
If it's not your first pregnancy, the baby may not move down until labour.
You may notice your breasts leaking some fluid, and this is normal.
WHY IS FULL-TERM IMPORTANT?
Especially if you’re scheduling an induction or Cesarean section, waiting until at least 39 weeks of gestation can greatly improve outcomes for your baby. According to the March of Dimes, waiting until 39 weeks of gestation can help ensure full development of the brain, lungs, and liver.
It also reduces the likelihood of vision and hearing problems, gives the baby time to gain sufficient weight, and promotes being able to suck, swallow, and stay awake after birth long enough to eat.
This doesn’t mean that babies born before 39 weeks will have health problems; many babies born before full-term are perfectly fine—but health outcomes are generally better once babies hit that 39-week gestation mark.
REMEMBER EVERY WEEK COUNTS!
Near the end of your pregnancy you may be uncomfortable or anxious to see your baby. But remember you want to be sure you deliver a full term baby, if possible.