I'm 37 weeks pregnant: is my baby fully developed?

No, your baby is not fully developed at 37 weeks.

The brain is one of the last things to develop and makes huge growth during the last weeks of pregnancy. In the attached photo from the March of Dimes you can see the difference in brain size from 35 weeks to 39 weeks.

Other internal organs are also rapidly developing during the last weeks of pregnancy. The brain, lungs and liver all have significant development after 35 weeks. The eyes and ears also develop late in pregnancy.

It is important to remember that your due date is just an estimate. You may not be as far along as you think. Giving your baby a full 40weeks to develop gives them the healthiest start to life.

If you baby is born at 37weeks they are considered premature but will most likely not have complications. A baby is not considered full term until they reach 39weeks.

I'm 37 weeks pregnant: is my baby fully developed?
01
4Katie
Moms Expertise
    04/29/14
    Comment deleted
    4Katie
    When Noah was born the medical organizations considered 37weeks to be full term. Just a few months ago the official recommendation and definition of full term changed to 39weeks.
    1
      04/29/14
      Beth
      This is so true! When I was pregnant with Audrey, I went in for my scheduled c-section. The doctors realized I was 3 days shy of 39 weeks and sent me home to come back in 3 days. It was absolutely devastating for me because I thought it was baby day... and then it wasn't!! But, after doing some research I found out those 3 days could have been the difference between the very healthy, fully developed girl that came out, and a baby girl that had to spend days, weeks, or even more in the NICU. Going into labor on your own is one thing because a due date is just an estimate - babies (in general) come when they are ready, but inductions or c-sections should be put off as long as is healthy so your baby has a chance to fully develop.
      3
        04/29/14
        Fully agree with Sheila. There are such conflicting opinions out there about what is considered this and considered that. But I think everyone can agree that the longer they are in there, the better. My doc wouldn't let me go past 39 weeks because of diabetes, my blood pressure was rising at 38 weeks so that's when she called for a C-section. There are plenty of medical reasons why a baby may not be born at 40 weeks. Best option is not to push it. Some women try some scary stuff to get their babies to come early. I'll never understand it.
        1
          04/29/14
          I agree that bigger is better, but I think a baby born at 37 weeks will generally be fine.

          The other thing to consider is how accurate gestational age is. First, most people don't know EXACTLY when the baby was conceived and implanted. So even though your LMP says your 37 weeks, you could be 38 weeks if you ovulated early in your cycle (I know I ovulate early). Second, babies don't know they're supposed to grow at a certain rate. While babies generally match the development that their gestational age says they should be, babies all grow at different rates just like kids do. A baby's gestational age could be 39 weeks, but physically they may only be 37 weeks developed. That's why some women deliver late. The baby is taking longer to get where they need to be.

          I think that babies will come when they come. If they're a 1-2 weeks early or late I don't think it makes a huge difference.
          1
            04/29/14
            I had Ellsie at 34 weeks because I had HELLP Syndrome. It terrified me. I remember calling my mom crying and saying, "she's not ready, she's not ready!" We took her home on her 3 week birthday. While in the special care nursery her eyes would constantly roll back in her head and her face would twitch. I asked if she was having seizures and they assured me she wasn't. Their exact words were "it's just from being premature and not having a fully developed nervous system."

            Now she's a thriving, happy, little 7 month old who loves to "scream" about everything she finds exciting. lol :)
            1
              08/17/14
              I work with the nurses in L& D. This is interesting...they tell me 37 is fully developed...
              0
              About Katie
              Birth: November 24
              On Moms.com since: Jan 21, 2014
              ***Community Manager of Moms.com*** Mom to four amazing children. I am passionate about helping and supporting new moms as they enter into motherhood. I am a certified doula, certified childbirth educator and an accredited breastfeeding counselor.