36 Weeks Pregnant

36 Weeks Pregnant: Your Baby's Development

Your baby will likely have gained about two pounds over the past few weeks, and he’s probably already reached the length he’ll be when he’s born. He’s plumping up, becoming less wrinkled, and is generally starting to look more like the baby you’ll meet in just a few weeks. All that growth means he doesn’t have quite as much room to move around at this point, because he’s now taking up most of the available space inside the amniotic sac. However, you’ll probably still feel plenty of movement in there from time to time. So, just how is your not-so-little guy going to make it through the birth canal when you go into labor? At this point, his skull bones are developed, but they haven’t yet fused together. This means they can move and overlap, allowing the head and body to pass through your cervix and pelvis a little more easily. For this reason, if you give birth vaginally, his head may look slightly misshapen when he’s born but will return to a more normal, rounded shape in a few hours or a few days. The skull bones will then fuse together over the first two years of his life.


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The Size of the Fetus at 36 Weeks Pregnant

At 36 weeks, the size of the fetus is about that of head of Romaine lettuce. A typical baby weight at 36 weeks pregnant might be about six pounds. Although your healthcare provider would be able to confirm how your baby is positioned this week, here’s a general illustration of what your little one might look like and how your baby may be positioned at 36 weeks.

Mom's Body at 36 Weeks Pregnant

From now until you give birth, you may be going for checkups with your healthcare provider every week. During these appointments, you can expect to have your weight, blood pressure, and fundal height checked. Your provider may check your cervix to see if it’s preparing for labor. Your baby’s position may also be checked — whether he’s head down or not. If your baby is in a breech position, your provider will be able to advise whether trying to turn him is recommended. You may have started to notice extra pressure on your pelvis and bladder lately as your baby settles lower in your pelvis in preparation for birth. The upside of this change is that there is now less pressure on your diaphragm and lungs, which is why this change is sometimes called "lightening." Though you may be uncomfortable as your baby drops, at least you’ll be breathing a little easier!

36 Weeks Pregnant: Your Symptoms

At 36 weeks pregnant, here are some of the symptoms you may be experiencing:

  • Frequent urination. As your baby drops lower into your pelvis, you’ll likely find yourself heading for the ladies’ room a bit more frequently. You may even be waking up to pee several times during the night. There’s not much you can do to alleviate this annoying symptom until your baby comes, but try to take bathroom breaks whenever possible, and make sure to fully empty your bladder each time you go. Don’t be tempted to skimp on; it’s important to stay hydrated, even if it means a few more trips to the bathroom. If you find that you’re leaking a little urine when you laugh, cough, or sneeze, wearing a panty liner may help you feel more comfortable, and Kegel exercises can also help improve bladder control.

  • Braxton Hicks contractions. The closer you get to your due date, pre-labor or “practice” contractions can get stronger and can make you think you’re experiencing one of the signs of labor at 36 weeks pregnant. One of the important differences between Braxton Hicks and true labor contractions is timing. When you’re really in labor, your contractions will come at regular intervals and will occur closer and closer together. Braxton Hicks contractions, though, do not strike at regular intervals and can sometimes be relieved by moving around or changing positions. Download and print our handy contraction tracking chart to help you time your contractions to see if they’re the real deal. If you’re in any doubt, contact your healthcare provider.

  • Difficulty sleeping. Despite all the advice you may be getting about resting as much as you can now before your baby arrives, you might actually be finding it quite hard to get a good night’s sleep. Your larger belly can make it tough to find a comfortable sleeping position, so try using extra pillows for support under your belly and between your legs. If insomnia strikes, it can also help to make your bed and bedroom as comfortable as possible. Try leaving your smartphone in another room before you go to bed, and perhaps try some light stretching or meditation to help you fall asleep. If you still find that you’re having trouble getting a full night’s rest, a quick power nap or two during the daytime can give you the energy boost you need to get through the day.

  • Numbness in legs and feet. Your growing body can put increased pressure on some of the nerves in your legs, feet, or even hands. This can cause a numbness or a tingling feeling from time to time. These symptoms should subside once you give birth, but if you find them troublesome until then, talk to your healthcare provider. She may recommend ankle or wrist splints, or that you simply rest your hands or feet as much as possible.

  • Leg swelling. Thanks to your body retaining extra fluids while you’re pregnant, some swelling in your legs and feet is to be expected. If you experience any pain or discomfort, try to spend less time on your feet, and prop your feet up on a pillow or stool when you’re sitting down. Comfortable shoes and even support hose or stockings can also help.

  • Lower back pain. At 36 weeks pregnant, it’s not uncommon to be feeling some lower back pain. The hormone known as relaxin starts loosening the joints and ligaments in your pelvis in preparation for labor, causing back pain that you might notice when you sit, stand, or climb stairs, for example. Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing lower back pain. She may recommend some gentle stretching exercises that can help relieve your discomfort.

36 Weeks Pregnant: Things to Consider

36 Weeks Pregnant: Ask Your Doctor

  • Will you be tested for group B streptococcus (GBS), and what happens if the result is positive?

  • Are you at a high risk of preeclampsia? This pregnancy-related blood pressure disorder can sometimes strike in the third trimester.

  • If you have a chronic condition, will any element of labor or childbirth be adjusted to reduce any risks associated with your condition?

  • What safe exercises can you do at this point in your pregnancy?

36 Weeks Pregnant: Your Checklist

  • Find out what room options are available to you at your hospital or birthing center.

  • Wash any new baby clothes and linens.

  • Download our third trimester guide (if you haven’t already) for more information on what’s to come in the final few weeks of your pregnancy.

  • Learn about your options for feeding your baby by discussing both breastfeeding and formula feeding with your healthcare provider or lactation consultant.

  • Stock up on diapers and wipes. Plus, make sure you have everything you need for all those diaper changes you’ll be doing, including things like diaper rash cream, a diaper pail, and a changing mat to top your changing table with.

  • If you haven’t already, start considering the things you’ll need to baby proof your home. We asked thousands of Pampers Parents to vote on all the best baby products and among them all you can find product reviews on the best baby gates and the best child proof locks to help you with your babyproofing efforts.

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