If your baby were to arrive this week, the birth would be considered 'full term'. Any time between now and week 42 falls into this category. With luck, you won't go overdue as you're probably feeling more than ready by now to meet your baby. Some mums-to-be still feel unprepared for parenthood; and others enjoy being pregnant so much that they're happy for it to continue for a while yet!
With the end in sight, get organised, just in case your baby arrives early. Make sure your hospital bag is packed and your hospital notes and birth plan are accessible.
It's an interesting fact that your baby is more likely to arrive early if your usual menstrual is relatively short, and you're more likely to go overdue if it's longer than average. If it's close to 28 days, then you have a greater chance of delivering on or close to your EDD (estimated due date).
Your baby weighs about 2.95kg (6.5lb) this week and measures about 35cm (14in) from crown to rump. At this stage your baby's main occupation is accumulating more body fat and you may notice movements become more subtle. As long as you're feeling some movements in each 24-hour period you have nothing to worry about – and even if you don't, you've probably just slept through your baby's most vigorous movements or just not noticed them. If movements are quiet, reassure yourself by seeing your midwife or obstetrician who will check your baby's heartbeat.
On the outside
If your baby's head hasn't engaged yet, you might find your uterus has grown upwards even more and is sitting around 6.5in (16.5cm) from your belly button. You're probably feeling fit to burst and most uncomfortable. With luck you'll have stopped putting on weight by now, in any case, having gained anything between around 25-35lb (11-13.5kg).
Your breasts will be sporting a network of blue veins, visible just below the surface of the skin; your areolas (the flat, circular outer parts of your nipples) will have grown darker and will be sporting little bumps known as 'Montgomery's tubercles' (these are milk ducts from which your milk will flow if you breastfeed); the central parts of your nipples may now be protruding. Don't worry if you have flat or inverted nipples as your baby will latch onto the breast tissue. Your midwife will have tips and advice on latching on after the birth.
Things to think about
Welcome to the world of nursing bras. This is the time to get measured and stock up. Maternity bras come in many shapes and styles; some cups have zips; some simply fold away from the breast; most hook on to the bra straps and drop down easily in one movement.
If your breasts are heavy, make sure you choose a style with wide straps and a deep back panel and sides to support the weight. There's no substitute for getting fitted by an expert, so do visit a department of baby store and ask for assistance. Buy at least two bras so you always have one at the ready while the other's in the wash.
If you've started your maternity leave, make the most of your remaining time as a couple, as well as time alone. Why not revisit some of your favourite places for dates when you were first together, or enjoy an intimate meal or a trip to the theatre while you can? Make sure you don't spend all your time talking about new parenthood: soon enough it'll be your main topic of conversation.