You’ve made it 36 weeks! Even if pregnancy symptoms are getting you down, such as rushing to the restroom every 30 minutes or constantly feeling tired, try to enjoy this last month of pregnancy. Even if you plan to have future pregnancies, or if this isn’t your first, each pregnancy is unique, so you should try to cherish every moment of it. Keep reading to learn more about what to expect this week.
Does it feel like there’s no more room at the baby inn? It may feel like that, but your baby will continue to grow until your due date arrives, a date only your baby knows, which is probably driving you mad with uncertainty.
Whenever you feel tired from your pregnancy, just remind yourself that your baby will benefit from every last moment it spends in your womb. As of next week, your baby will be considered early term, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Full term is now considered 40 weeks. Try to enjoy these last few special weeks of your pregnancy. Your baby will be here before you know it.
You’re no doubt exhausted from carrying around your growing belly, and you’re probably weary with worry. Even if this isn’t your first pregnancy, every pregnancy and every baby is different, so feeling a little anxious about the unknown is perfectly normal. If you find that your anxiety is impacting your daily life or your relationships, you should bring it up with your doctor at your next appointment.
Somewhere around 18 inches in length, at 36 weeks your baby weighs between 5 and 6 pounds. Soon, your doctor will probably check whether your baby is readying for delivery.
To check this, your doctor will be looking to see if your baby’s head is down by your cervix. Your baby should move into this position by 36 weeks, but don’t fret if your baby hasn’t turned yet. Most babies will turn toward the birth canal in the last weeks of pregnancy, but 1 in 25 pregnancies will remain breech, or turned feet first. Breech presentation is always high risk, and most such cases result in cesarean delivery.
If your doctor suspects your baby is breech, you’ll likely be sent for an ultrasound to confirm. After that, your doctor may recommend one of several ways to help a baby into moving downward, such as external cephalic version (ECV).
ECV is a nonsurgical method sometimes used to try to turn your baby. If you’re worried about the potentials of a breech delivery, share your concerns with your doctor. Your doctor should be able to ease your concerns with all the resources available for breech pregnancies.
Are you feeling maxed out? There’s not a whole lot of room left in your uterus. Fetal movements may slow this week. Take note of any changes and share them with your doctor at your next appointment.
One symptom during week 36 to look out for is contractions. These could mean your baby is coming early or just be Braxton-Hicks contractions. But overall, you’ll probably continue experiencing many of the same symptoms you’ve encountered throughout your third trimester, such as:
Many women experience breast leakage in their third trimester. This thin, yellowish fluid called colostrum will provide your baby with nutrients in the first days of its life. Even if you aren’t planning to breastfeed, your body will still produce colostrum.
If you’re finding the leakage uncomfortable, try wearing nursing pads. You should stock up on these anyway, as you’ll need them post-delivery (whether or not you breastfeed), and there’s no reason you can’t use them now.
Some women add nursing pads to their baby registry, but if you didn’t receive any from a baby shower, or if you don’t feel comfortable asking friends and family to purchase these for you, nursing pads are relatively inexpensive. You can find them at most major retailers that sell baby products and can purchase them in bulk. They will come in handy after the baby is born and breastfeeding.
Sometimes babies decide to come early, so you should be on the lookout for contractions. Contractions may feel like a tightening or cramping in your uterus, similar to menstrual cramps. Some women feel them in their back, as well. Your stomach will feel hard to the touch during a contraction.
Each contraction will grow in intensity, peak, and then slowly subside. Think of it like a wave, rolling into the shore, then gently making its way back out to sea. As your contractions become closer together, the peaks will occur sooner and last longer.
Some women confuse contractions with Braxton-Hicks contractions, which are sometimes referred to as “false labor.” Braxton-Hicks contractions are intermittent, don’t have a pattern to them, and they don’t grow in intensity.
If you’re experiencing contractions, it’s important to time them. There are many mobile apps available that make it easy to time and record your contractions. You may want to download one now and familiarize yourself with it so that you’re prepared once your contractions start. You can also track them the old-fashioned way, using a watch or timer (or counting the seconds out loud) and pen and paper.
To track your contractions, record the time they start and when they end. The length of time between when one starts and the next one starts is the frequency of contractions. Bring this record with you when you go to the hospital. If you water breaks make note of the time and head to the hospital.
If you’re uncertain about what pains should warrant a call to your doctor or a trip to the hospital, you should ask your doctor now. If ever you experience contractions that last for about one minute and come every five minutes for at least an hour, you’re likely on your way to your baby’s birthday.
In an ideal world, you’d probably like to already have everything ready for your baby’s arrival. Realistically, though, there may be several things left on your to-do list, and that’s OK. You still have time. Here are some things to focus on this week.
Pick your pediatrician
If you haven’t chosen a pediatrician for your baby yet, you’ll want to pick one soon. While you likely have a few more weeks before your baby arrives, that time isn’t guaranteed.
Ask local friends or family members for referrals, and be sure to call ahead to schedule a tour with potential pediatricians. It’s not only easier to gauge your comfort with a doctor and the office environment face-to-face, but you’ll likely feel less stress now that you’ve checked one more thing off your baby to-do list.
Pack a birth bag
Another to-do list item you should probably check off soon is packing your birth bag. There are countless recommendations based on the moms who have gone through this before. To find what’s best for you, ask loved ones for their advice, and then stick with what you find most important.
In general, you’ll want to pack items that will make you, your partner, and your baby comfortable. Some things you might want to pack for yourself include:
- insurance information
- a copy of your birth plan
- a toothbrush
- comfortable pajamas and slippers
- things that will help you relax during labor
- book or magazines
For your baby, a car seat is a must. If you haven’t already, call your local police or fire station to see if they do car seat checks. Installing a car seat can be tricky, and it’s the last thing you’ll want to have to worry about when you’re in labor.
Get a new car seat to be sure it was manufactured with the most current safety guidelines. Car seats are meant to protect the child from one accident, and then be discarded. Buy one at a garage sale and you won’t be sure if it has been in a motor vehicle accident.
Pack an outfit to bring baby home in, but skip the frills. Pick something that will be easy to put on and take off. You may need to do a quick diaper change. Speaking of diaper changes, you may want to consider packing a backup outfit, just in case your baby has an accident that makes its way out of the diaper.
Think about your baby’s comfort when picking an outfit as well. If you’re delivering in the winter, pick something that will keep your baby warm. If it will be in the 90s, consider a lighter-weight outfit. The hospital should provide most other basics for the baby, such as diapers.
And don’t forget your partner! Their comfort will likely be far from your mind when you’re breathing through labor pains, but now is when you can show them that their comfort matters, too. Consider packing:
- snacks you can share
- a camera
- a charger for your phone and other electronics so your partner can text or email everyone when your baby arrives
- headphones, for what could be a long day or night
- list of contacts so your partner knows who to call or email once your baby arrives
- a jacket or sweater for your partner (hospitals can get cold)
If you’re experiencing contractions or think you may be experiencing contractions, call your doctor or head to the hospital. You should also call your doctor if you experience vaginal bleeding, fluid leakage, or severe abdominal pain.
As your baby continues to grow, there’s less room for it to move. While your baby’s movements have probably slowed down some, you should still feel them. If you notice a decrease in movement (think less than 10 movements in an hour), or if you’re concerned about your baby’s movement, contact your doctor. While a decrease in movement could be nothing, it could also be a sign that your baby is in distress. It’s always better to play it safe and contact your healthcare provider.
You are almost at the finish line. Remember to enjoy these last couple of weeks. Take naps whenever you can, and continue eating healthy, balanced meals. You’ll be thankful for the extra nutrients and energy once your big day arrives.