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Week 37 of Your Pregnancy: Care Instructions

Fetal development at the 40th week

Your Care Instructions

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 women deliver their babies 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 labour 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 or nurse call line 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.
  • Mothers who breastfeed often lose weight faster, because making milk burns calories.
  • Learning the best ways to hold your baby will make breastfeeding easier.
  • Let your partner bathe and diaper the baby to keep your partner from feeling left out. 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. Do not prop bottles or let your baby fall asleep with a bottle.

Learn about crying

  • It is common for babies to cry for 1 to 3 hours a day. Some cry more, some cry less.
  • Babies don't cry to make you upset or because you are 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, he or she will learn to trust you.
  • Try to stay calm when your baby cries. Your baby may get more upset if he or she senses 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 face cloth 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 his or her 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, he or she is constipated. After 2 days of constipation, call your baby's doctor.
  • If your baby will be circumcised, you can care for him at home.
    • Gently rinse his penis with warm water after every diaper change. Do not 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?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.