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3rd trimester: Week 37

Your Baby

At over 18 inches long, your baby is doing well. He's learning what it's like to breathe, inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid to perfect his skills. He can also suck his thumb, turn his head, swallow, blink, and grasp.

Your Body

You're ready to get this show on the road: Sleep is elusive, the extra weight is slowing you down, and when you walk it feels as if the baby is about to drop out (don't worry -- he won't). As the due date approaches, your doctor or midwife will check to see if your cervix has begun to thin out and dilate. She'll also want to know how far the baby has descended. Although childbirth may go the way you envisioned, it's possible it may not work out as planned. You may end up wanting medication you swore you wouldn't ask for, or needing a last-minute cesarean section. Prepare yourself for a possible change in plans, and know that whatever happens, your baby's birth will be one of your most treasured memories.

Do's and Don'ts

Ask your health care provider how you can tell labor has truly begun and when you should call her. If you have any unanswered questions, such as when she'll get there and what will happen if she's not on call, now's the time to clarify those details.

Health

MRI scans of pregnant women show that brain size actually shrinks in the third trimester which may explain why you're sometimes so forgetful. Thankfully, it plumps back up a few months after birth. No one knows just what turns your mind to mush, but sleep deprivation may have something to do with it. To compensate, jot everything down (including your daily tasks) and leave written reminders everywhere.

Mom to Mom

"Purchase a doughnut cushion ahead of time. It's good for episiotomy incisions and for the hemorrhoids that can appear both during pregnancy and as a result of childbirth."--Rose Petra, Santa Monica, CA

Shopping

You'll need a car seat to bring your baby home from the hospital or birthing center, so if you didn't receive one at your shower, go buy it as soon as possible. You'll want to know how to get the baby in and out of it easily and how to install it in the backseat of your car so it's ready when the time comes.

Exercise

You deserve a reward for sticking to a fitness regimen throughout your pregnancy, especially well into the third trimester. After putting in your time at the gym this week, reward yourself with a movie or a good book. Or skip it altogether and pamper yourself with a manicure or a massage.

Relationships

Make the wait more bearable with a little pampering and time with friends. Invite your best pal to join you for a pedicure, or sneak off to a day spa together. Use the hours to catch up and make plans for after you give birth.

Siblings

Set up playdates for your older child now so she'll have lots to do during the first few weeks when you're busy with the baby.

Twins

While it may be tempting to keep costs down by buying just one crib for your twins to share, consider buying two. Experts say having them both sleeping in the same bed could elevate the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).