Week 37 of Your Pregnancy: Care Instructions

Fetus in uterus, with detail of development at 32nd week and 40th week


You are near the end of your pregnancy—and you're probably pretty uncomfortable. It may be harder to walk around. Lying down probably isn't comfortable either. You may have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep.

Most babies are born between 37 and 42 weeks. This is a good time to think about packing a bag for the hospital with items you'll need. Then you'll be ready when labor starts.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Learn about breastfeeding

  • Breastfeeding is best for your baby and good for you.
  • Breast milk has antibodies to help your baby fight infections.
  • If you breastfeed, you may lose weight faster. That's because making milk burns calories.
  • Learning the best ways to hold your baby will make breastfeeding easier.
  • Sometimes breastfeeding can make partners feel left out. If you have a partner, plan how you can care for your baby together. For example, your partner can bathe and diaper the baby. You can snuggle together when you breastfeed.
  • You may want to learn how to use a breast pump and store your milk.
  • If you choose to bottle feed, make the feeding feel like breastfeeding so you can bond with your baby. Always hold your baby and the bottle. Don't prop bottles or let your baby fall asleep with a bottle.

Learn about crying

  • It's common for babies to cry for 1 to 3 hours a day. Some cry more, and some cry less.
  • Babies don't cry to make you upset or because you're a bad parent.
  • Crying is how your baby communicates. Your baby may be hungry; have gas; need a diaper change; or feel cold, warm, tired, lonely, or tense. Sometimes babies cry for unknown reasons.
  • If you respond to your baby's needs, your baby will learn to trust you.
  • Try to stay calm when your baby cries. Your baby may get more upset if they sense that you are upset.

Know how to care for your newborn

  • Your baby's umbilical cord stump will drop off on its own, usually between 1 and 2 weeks. To care for your baby's umbilical cord area:
    • Clean the area at the bottom of the cord 2 or 3 times a day.
    • Pay special attention to the area where the cord attaches to the skin.
    • Keep the diaper folded below the cord.
    • Use a damp washcloth or cotton ball to sponge bathe your baby until the stump has come off.
  • Your baby's first dark stool is called meconium. After the meconium is passed, your baby will develop their own bowel pattern.
    • Some babies, especially breastfed babies, have several bowel movements a day. Others have one or two a day, or one every 2 to 3 days.
    • Breastfed babies often have loose, yellow stools. Formula-fed babies have more formed stools.
    • If your baby's stools look like little pellets, your baby is constipated. After 2 days of constipation, call your baby's doctor.
  • If your baby will be circumcised, you can care for your baby at home.
    • Gently rinse your baby's penis with warm water after every diaper change. Don't try to remove the film that forms on the penis. This film will go away on its own. Pat dry.
    • Put petroleum ointment, such as Vaseline, on the area of the diaper that will touch your baby's penis. This will keep the diaper from sticking to your baby.
    • Ask the doctor about giving your baby acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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