Say hello to week 36 and the official start of your ninth month of pregnancy. If you're tired of pesky pregnancy symptoms like Braxton Hicks contractions, the good news is that the end is near, and you'll get to meet your little bundle of joy soon.
Since your baby could come at any point, it’s a good time to finish up any last-minute preparations. Talk with your family about any what-ifs (like what to do if your water breaks while you’re at home), take a practice trip to the hospital, and consider how (and if) you’ll update friends and family once you go into labor.
Your baby will, ideally, wait a few more weeks to make their arrival. Although a baby born at 36 weeks is still considered preterm (late preterm), they generally have a lower chance of complications than preterm babies born before 36 weeks.
You might be seeing your health care provider weekly as your due date approaches. They will monitor your blood pressure, measure your fundal height, and possibly check your cervix to see if it’s preparing for labor. Your provider may also go over the signs of labor, what the mucus plug is, and what to do if your water breaks. Be sure to ask any questions you have about going into labor, like how far apart and how long your contractions should be before heading to the hospital or birthing center.
If you haven't received your Group B Strep (GBS) test, you likely will this week. Either you or your practitioner will take a gentle swab of your vagina and rectum to test for GBS. If you test positive you'll probably be given IV antibiotics during labor to prevent the transmission of GBS bacteria to your baby.
Your doctor or midwife may also check your baby’s position to see if they’re head down. Don’t panic if your baby is breech as they may flip soon. Less than 5% of babies remain in the breech position after 36 weeks.
If your baby is not in the head-down position, your health care provider may suggest an external cephalic version (ECV) (if appropriate), a procedure where pressure is put on the pregnant person’s abdomen to attempt to manually turn the baby from breech to head down.
ECVs are generally performed around 37 weeks and can improve the chances of having a vaginal delivery. During an ECV, you may be given medication to stop contractions and prevent preterm labor. A monitor will be hooked up to watch your baby’s heart rate, and the procedure will stop if there is a problem at any point.
While ECV works a little more than half of the time, you should be aware of some potential risks: fetal distress, preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM), and preterm labor.
This week, your baby is the size of a bunch of bananas. That's not the only reason your belly is feeling big these days. By 36 weeks, you’re carrying around one quart of amniotic fluid, but it will start to gradually decrease after this week.
36 Weeks Pregnant Symptoms
Relaxin – a hormone your body produces during pregnancy – is working to loosen ligaments, which can cause more vaginal pressure or vaginal heaviness. Relaxin is responsible for loosening the connective tissue throughout your body. More specifically, this hormone helps your pelvis relax for delivery and helps your cervix expand and soften.
As your baby drops, they put more pressure on your pelvic floor – the muscles that span the bottom of your pelvis and support the pelvic organs. As your pelvic floor stretches and weakens, you may feel an increase in vaginal pressure – and you might feel like you’re waddling like a penguin through the rest of your pregnancy.
Baby on Board
At 36 weeks, your baby is 18-19 inches long and weighs about 6 pounds. Their growth will start to slow down in these final weeks of pregnancy so they can store up the energy needed for birth.
Under Construction: Soft Skull and Bones
Your baby’s skull bones are fully developed but will remain unfused. This means the bones can overlap and move so that your baby’s head can maneuver through the birth canal more easily. If you have a vaginal birth, don’t be concerned if your baby’s head looks misshapen at birth. It should return to a more rounded shape after a bit.
The skull isn’t the only soft thing: your baby’s other bones and cartilage are still fairly soft to help with delivery. Your little one’s bones will continue to harden over the first few years of their life.
Under Construction: The Lungs
Your baby’s lungs are finally fully developed and officially ready for the outside world – a huge milestone in your baby’s development. Soon, they’ll be taking their first breaths of fresh air, but until then, your baby will continue to get oxygen through the umbilical cord.
What to Wear This Week
If you’re looking for extra belly coverage now that you’re 36 weeks pregnant, check out our Simply Sublime® Maternity & Nursing Tank. Our seamless nursing tank top provides a smooth silhouette for pregnant moms – complete with an extra-long, hip-length cut that will help you feel comfortable with your growing baby bump.
Our French Terry Racerback Nursing Bra is the perfect combination of support and comfort. This pullover racerback style maternity bra is ideal for sleeping and lounging while you wait for your little one’s arrival.
This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice that has been medically reviewed. Please reach out to your midwife or doctor with any questions.