What's happening in week 36 of your pregnancy
Week 36 and the finish line is well and truly in sight!
At a glance
- Your baby is getting ready to meet you now
- They are putting on weight and getting into the 'engaged' position
- Your nesting instinct may have kicked in
How big is my baby at 36 weeks?
The average baby weighs around 7.5lbs at birth, so your little one has a bit more to gain just now, weighing in at around 6lbs at the 36 week mark. They’ll also measure in at close to 50cm and still have a little bit of growing left to do.
During weeks 36-40 your baby gains body fat at a rate of at around 1-2lb per week.
Your baby is really getting ready to meet you now! They are moving further down your pelvis ready to engage (if they haven't already), and putting on those last few ounces of weight.
This week they’ll be shedding the remaining downy hair which will mix in with the remaining amniotic fluid. The baby will be swallowing both of these substances with others such as bile and mucus. This forms what is known as meconium, and will be their first bowel movement.
Their blood circulation and immune system are now ready for the outside world after months of development, but their digestive system isn’t quite ready and will take a few months to catch up before your baby can start eating solids.
Facts to know about your baby in week 36
- Your baby will weigh around 6 lbs at the 36 week mark.
- Baby will be shredding most of the downy covering of hair that covered their body, as well as the vernix caseosa
You at 36 weeks pregnant
Your midwife will be checking your baby's position at all your appointments now, and noting whether or not their head has engaged. As baby moves further down into your pelvis, you will probably find eating and breathing a whole lot easier.
In the weeks before your due date some women also start getting some Braxton Hicks, these are described as 'practice' contractions as you body begins to get ready for the birth.
They can be a bit uncomfortable but pass fairly quickly and do not grow in intensity so you'll know it's not the real thing.
If your tummy remains constantly hard or the tightenings become regular and painful, contact your midwife or maternity unit for advice.
You must also find yourself wondering about how you’ll cope with actual contractions. Every mum-to-be is different, but usually, the first contractions are quite easy to cope with, so with your birthing partner practice comfortable positions, gentle breathing and keeping mobile throughout the contraction and then relax in between so that when the contractions are coming closer together and feel more intense, you both feel confident in the rhythm and pace of your labour.
In the first stage of labour, you may have short contractions every 20 minutes or so. During this early stage it's important to try to rest between contractions and stay hydrated. As labour progresses they get longer and stronger and closer together. This stage can last several minutes to several days! For some women, it stops and starts, for others it progresses smoothly into Stage two. Towards the end of the first stage you may have contractions every 4-5 minutes.
It's usually time to go to hospital when the contractions are regular, long and strong; lasting 50-60 seconds and coming every 5-6 minutes. Take travel time into account and before you leave home, ring the labour ward (and remember to take your notes with you!).
You will still be feeling them moving about, but probably much lower down in your tummy. If you notice any changes in your baby's usual pattern of movement, do contact your midwife or maternity unit straight away, so she can make sure everything is as it should be.
Facts to know about you in week 36
- 1 in 3 women have an epidural and 90% find it effective
- Nipple Stimulation gentle rubbing, rolling or sucking of the nipples and areola (area surrounding nipple) is also proven to increase oxytocin and may help to stimulate contractions.
- Each month has an average of 30 days, except the last month of pregnancy
- Don't rush to get into the birth pool. The water may work better for you if you wait until your cervix is at least five centimetres dilated
What to think about in week 36
Dealing with other people late in your pregnancy can end up driving you to distraction – particularly if you are finding that the constant 'not long now' or 'you look ready to pop' comments from friends and family are starting to grate!
You could also find yourself inundated with calls and texts asking if there is 'any news'. Don't feel guilty about switching your phone off or letting the voicemail pick up, particularly if you are trying to get some rest – that's more important than relaying for the umpteenth time 'no, nothing's happening yet...' .
Don't feel bad about being firm with repeat offenders either, perhaps by getting your partner to field your calls, or simply telling them straight out that you will call them when there is anything to report!
Whilst you may feel ready(ish) for your impending birth, how prepared is your partner? Those days are gone when dads-to-be sat around smoking or pacing the corridor while the missus gave birth.
Harsh but sound advice for partners during labour: Do as you are asked by the mums-to-be and midwives.
Try and encourage your partner to understand the basics of labour itself. There are some sure fire signs labour is starting and understanding what your partner can do to help will make the process less stressful for both of you can get you off on the right foot. For example, make sure your partner knows what needs doing at home before you head to the hospital.
Meanwhile you should try to rest and stay hydrated especially when having irregular contractions as these can stop and start over several days.
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Signs and symptoms at 36 weeks pregnant
Swollen feet and ankles
Although often in the feet and ankles, oedema – or simply put swelling in pregnancy – can often occur in the face, hands and arms too. If you suddenly notice your oedema getting worse, particularly in your face and hands, you should contact your midwife or doctor straight away, as this can be a sign of pre-eclampsia. Lifestyle changes can help including cutting down on dietary salt; resting with your legs higher than your hips and avoiding long periods of standing – or sitting!
As you get close to the end of your pregnancy, your organs will have moved and pushed upwards as your baby gets bigger. This means you are more likely to experience heartburn as your digestion slows even more and the acid in your stomach is forced into your oesophagus. Although it can be uncomfortable and painful it shouldn’t harm you or your baby. But if you find that the pain doesn’t travel to your throat but remains at the top of your belly, it’s important to talk to your midwife or doctor as this could also be a sign on pre-eclampsia.
Watch our videos below:
Video 1: My baby is breech. What help will I get? (NHS content)
Video 2: Caesareans explained
Video 3: Bonding with a newborn
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