Baby Growth at 36 Weeks Pregnant
You’ve made it to the beginning of month 9, can you believe it? You’re growing ever-closer to your baby’s birthday. By now your little babe is about 6 pounds and 18.5 inches long and the size of a big bunch of kale. They’re just about the perfect size for you to snuggle but they need a little more time to continue developing, so don’t will them out too soon. Your baby is getting chunkier each day, working on building out those delicious fat rolls that make your baby look more like an infant each day.
Their digestive system, though not active until they have their first drink of milk from your breast or a bottle, is about ready for the outside world so get those diapers ready – you’ll sure be needing them in a few short weeks. They’ll first expel a dark, tar-like substance called meconium when they are born; a substance that they’ve been working on in your womb by swallowing the fluid in the amniotic sac and other secretions.
Your baby is also looking more and more cleaned up everyday as they shed their lanugo (the hair covering that’s helped keep them warm). In addition, they are ditching their waxy covering called vernix which has kept them protected while growing in the amniotic fluid.
Baby’s listening! Your baby’s little ears are well developed at this point and may even recognize your voice, your heartbeat or even the music you and your partner love to listen to. Your baby loves listening to your voice all day long as you talk on the phone, speak in meetings or joke around with your partner.
Where is baby? Hopefully your baby is positioned head down in the ideal position. If your baby is presently breech, your doctor may discuss a procedure to help flip the baby (called an external cephalic version) which essentially means they push on your belly in a certain way to get the baby to flip into the head-down position.
You may also experience a sensation called “dropping” or “lightening” when your baby drops its head down, engaging in your lower pelvis. When this happens you may notice you’re able to eat full meals again, breath a bit easier and your heartburn may disappear.
You and Your Body at Pregnancy 36 Weeks
You’re in your last month of pregnancy, can you believe it? Your baby is nearly ready for its delivery day, and you’re likely feeling ready yourself! You’re probably finding it tough to get around with your big belly and your walk may have transformed into a cute pregnancy waddle at this point. All of your muscles, tendons, and ligaments are loosening and relaxing in preparation to spread more easily for the delivery of your baby.
During your visit this week or next, your doctor will likely do a test for group B strep (GBS) which is a kind of bacteria that can be found in the vagina. While the bacteria itself is typically not harmful, there are concerns that a group B positive mother could pass this bacteria to a newborn infant that could cause a serious infection. You may hear the word “strep” and think of a sore throat, but this one will be a vaginal swab. It’s a painless procedure, more mild than a pap smear, so don’t be surprised when you’re asked to undress from the waist down for this check up.
Typical Symptoms at 36 Weeks Pregnant
You may be experiencing some pain in your pelvis, right where your pelvic bones meet in your lower abdomen. This is due to ligament laxity as your body prepares to open itself for delivery of your child. Your baby’s head is creating downward pressure now in their ‘head down’ position and it can make for quite a painful pelvis. If your pain is severe, you may find relief working with a physical therapist or a chiropractor who can show you techniques to relieve the pain.
You may be noticing that the skin on your belly is becoming quite stretched, and quite itchy! If you haven’t already, consider applying a rich belly cream or oil to support your skin as it stretches more and more tightly while your baby packs on its last several ounces.
If you’re finding your shoes aren’t quite fitting right now it’s due to swelling in the feet and ankles called edema and is common late in pregnancy. If it worsens or if your blood pressure begins to rise, your doctor may begin to monitor you for a condition called preeclampsia. This is another reason why you are visiting your doctor every week now and they’ll continue to monitor your blood pressure and check your urine for the presence of protein.
Lastly you may be feeling the urge to nest! It’s common to have the sudden urge to have everything perfectly prepared for baby. For you this could mean deep cleaning your bathrooms, insisting that the crib and picture frames are hung in the nursery, or cooking up multiple meals in the kitchen to freeze for postpartum. This is typically the last big burst of energy before baby comes. Use it to your advantage but be sure to take breaks as needed and be sure not to overdo it.
Other Symptoms you may be feeling:
- Trouble sleeping
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Braxton Hicks contractions may become more prominent
Pregnancy Week 36 Tips and Advice
If you haven’t already, week 36 is a great time to pack your hospital bag! Consider setting out a few essential items that you could grab in a jiffy if needed. Many women like to pack a bag of toiletries, an outfit for the baby, a nursing bra, robe and pajamas for mom and a few snacks to eat after your delivery. You’ll want to be sure you have your insurance card, phone charger and maybe even your favorite pillow for extra comfort.
Do you know how you’ll announce the arrival of your babe? With all the excitement, it’s nice to have a plan in place for who will notify family and friends of the birth of your baby. While some like to enjoy blissfully being a new family unit for a few hours, others enjoy their family waiting in the wings of the hospital lobby. Whatever your preferences and expectations are, it’s a good idea to talk your desires over with your partner starting now.
If you’re feeling a bit anxious about delivery, there are outstanding birthing classes often offered by the hospital you’ll be delivering at or even online. Sometimes a couple hours of courses can put your fears at bay and help you understand not only the signs of early labor, but also techniques to improve your labor and alert you to options you may have for pain management.
- Avoid flying or traveling to elevation beyond this point in your pregnancy
- Eat small meals, and more frequently
- Stay hydrated
- Learn the signs of early labor
- Prepare and freeze meals for after baby is born
- Pay attention to your vaginal discharge, you want to be aware if you lose your mucus plug or begin discharging water-like fluid that could be from your amniotic sac rupturing.
With one month left in your pregnancy journey you’re seeing the light and probably feeling quite eager to hold your little babe in your arms instead of your belly. Many women begin to feel “over” being pregnant at this point so if everything isn’t roses and daisies, you are not alone. Focus on doing things that fulfill your own personal needs, by now you’ve probably read one too many labor and delivery books or have had your fill of pregnancy education, grab a magazine or binge watch your favorite show. Take time to do things to fill your cup now so you can feel full when attending to the needs of your little one once they are born in a few short weeks.