At 36 weeks pregnant you may feel like your baby is ready to pop out any minute! Well, this is almost true.
Right now, your little one is considered pre-term, but he’s only 3 weeks away from being considered full-term. If for some reason you went into labour right now, it is almost 100% certain that your baby wouldn’t have any lasting health problems because of the early birth. Though you may be thinking about it a lot, try not to worry about going into labour early—chances are that this won’t happen. However, at 36 weeks pregnant it’s best to be prepared to head to the hospital the moment your time has come. Many experts advise women to avoid any out of town trips at this point in pregnancy, just in case. So the only bags you should be packing during pregnancy week 36 are your hospital bags!
Though you aren’t statistically likely to go into labour at 36 weeks pregnant if you are having a healthy, normal pregnancy, it is recommended that you have your hospital bag ready to go by this point. You’ll probably want two bags for yourself, one for during labour and one for a hospital stay (just in case). Dad will also probably want to bring a bag! You’ll need things to keep you comfortable (like snacks, hair ties, or a pillow from home), and clothes and toiletries for yourselves, as well as for your new baby. Don’t forget the nappies and the car seat!
36 weeks pregnant: Look at your little chipmunk!
If you could see your little one during pregnancy week 36, a chipmunk is what he might remind you of. Not only have his extra pounds puffed out his cheeks, but all the sucking and facial movements he’s been practising have bulked up his face! It may come as a relief to you that his weight gain will slow down a bit now that you are 36 weeks pregnant, as he needs to save his energy for his “big move” from uterus to real world! But this week, he already weighs around 6 pounds and measures 20 inches long. Here’s what else he’s up to during week 36 pregnancy:
- He could be heading down to your birth canal, particularly if this is your first pregnancy
- His immune system is ready to protect him from the outside world
- His bones are still relatively soft, and the cranial bones are not fused to make birth easier
- The vernix caseosa is coming off his skin
- He’s swallowing amniotic fluid and the remnants of the vernix caseosa, which will later become his first bowel movement, meconium
36 weeks pregnant: Duck, duck, goose!
You may be feeling a bit like a duck (or a goose) at 36 weeks pregnant, as your loose ligaments and heavy uterus are probably causing you to waddle rather than walk! Don’t worry, you can really start the countdown now, and you won’t have to deal with all these bothersome symptoms for much longer:
- Pelvic pain
- The baby dropping can make breathing easier and eating more comfortable
- Feeling less baby movement, and also less poking and more wiggling
- Indigestion, but less heartburn once the baby moves down
- Difficulty controlling gas expulsion
- Increased, thick discharge, possibly streaked with blood
- Itchy skin
- Swollen extremities
- Difficulty sleeping
- Hot flashes or feeling warm
- A sudden burst of energy, sometimes called the nesting instinct
- More Braxton Hicks contractions
36 weeks pregnant: See your doctor and sing the blues if you need to
You’ll have one of your regularly scheduled antenatal appointments during week 36 pregnancy. Your doctor or midwife should take all the same measurements that they have been keeping track of during your pregnancy, like blood pressure, proteins in your urine, and the size of your uterus.
They’ll also make sure that your baby is in the head-down position, which is necessary before you go into labour. If your baby hasn’t quite made it into this position yet, they may want to do an external cephalic version (or ECV for short), which is a simple procedure that consists of applying pressure to specific points in your tummy. This will encourage the baby to move the right way. Anyway, at 36 weeks pregnant, the baby still has some time to turn around by himself.
In addition to all this, your antenatal visit during pregnancy week 36 is a valuable opportunity for you and your doctor or midwife to talk about any unaddressed questions or concerns that you have about delivery or how to care for your baby once he arrives. Some common topics of conversation include delivery options, breastfeeding, mummy’s health after pregnancy, and even mental health.
Remember, if you’re having feelings of anxiety or depression during pregnancy, you’re not alone. Postnatal depression affects as many as one in four new mothers. Never hesitate to talk to your doctor or midwife about any negative feelings you’re having now. It won’t be the first time they have dealt with depression and anxiety during pregnancy, and they have many resources to help you feel better and be the best mum you can be!
Whether it’s dealing with unpleasant feelings, packing your hospital bags, or preparing your home for the arrival of your little one, 36 weeks pregnant is the time to focus on any unfinished business before you go into labour. Hopefully your nesting mode is activated and it will help you through this final push. Well, actually, you’ve still got some pushing to do! But these last few weeks will zoom by and you’ll be kissing your baby’s chubby little cheeks before you know it.