Week 36 Of Your Pregnancy (Month 9)
Your baby is the size of a honeydew melon.2
Developments in Baby
All Systems Are a Go
Your baby weighing in at almost 6 pounds (2.7 kilograms), but the inches are slowing down dramatically. Baby is nearly at his full height or thereabouts—just upwards of 18 inches (45.7cm). Baby continues to gain an ounce a day.1,2,3 She is gearing up for the big day with the majority of her systems in working order including her immune and circulatory systems.1 Baby’s skin is smooth and soft1, but her head remains wrinkled and malleable to accommodate her growing brain as well as squeeze through the cervix. Baby is also shedding the downy hair (lanugo) covering her body and the vernix (the white, waxy film on her skin).2 Baby will swallow both the lanugo and vernix after they have been discarded as well as other secretions within the amniotic fluid to build up meconium, a black tar-like mixture that will result in his first bowel movement.1
Is That An Elbow?
There is a heap of brain activity occurring this week as well. She now recognizes the tones and rhythms of your voice and can distinguish it from others. High pitched noises seem to stimulate babies more than other sounds.1 In fact, a high pitched sound may even bring about a facial expression from your little one. She is developing a greater range of expressions and practicing during the time she is awake (which is more often these days). During those awake times you may feel strong movements or even see body parts moving across the surface of your belly. Some women insist they can identify which part of Baby’s body is sticking out. If Baby is head down and dropping, the movements will be in a lower location than usual. If she has not settled into the head down position yet, your practitioner may suggest an external cephalic version. It is a method to turn the baby into the head down position from the outside of your body.
Developments in Mother:
Has your honeydew dropped yet? The baby’s decent toward the pelvis is known as lightening, and you may even feel a bit lighter as you will be able to inhale more deeply.1,2 Unfortunately there will be even more pressure on your lower organs causing frequent trips the restroom and the inability to eat large meals without feeling completely stuffed. If this is your first pregnancy, the baby usually drops a few weeks before birth, but if you’ve experienced pregnancy previously, sometimes the baby may not drop until delivery day.
As your pregnancy progresses, your hips and pelvic muscles are becoming increasingly loose to accommodate Baby’s birth. This can be a painful process and can result in the infamous pregnancy waddle. If your baby has, in fact, dropped, then the combination of lightening with those loose pelvic muscles can give the feeling that you are walking with a bowling ball between your legs.3
Feeling Restless These Days
You are experiencing the same old symptoms—constipation, itchy abdomen, trouble sleeping, heartburn, fatigue, etc. Your symptom list may grow if you are one of the women who develop restless leg syndrome—an uncontrollable urge to move one’s legs due to a burning or tingling sensation in the calf, upper leg or foot—in the third trimester of pregnancy. This is not a dangerous ailment, but it can be extremely irritating. Massaging and stretching your legs can make all the difference in alleviating this annoying symptom.
You Can Never Be Too Prepared
In one week you will be considered full-term. With that in mind, it is time to tie up all of those loose ends. Try to answer all possible questions such as What if I go into labor while at work, or, What if my husband is away on his business trip, etc. Some women will not go into labor until well after 40 weeks (sometimes beyond 42 weeks which is known as post term). Either way, you will feel relieved if you are prepared. Inform your boss or coworkers of any projects you may be working on and be sure to familiarize yourself with the process of maternity leave through your worksite.1
If you took a childbirth class, you may want to review any notes or materials that you were provided. Practice breathing techniques. By breathing in a deep, slow and relaxed manner (yes, it is possible even in the midst of the birth chaos and contractions), you will remain more controlled during labor. Your heart rate will slow down and you will be able to focus on something aside from the discomfort of contractions. This is a perfect time to involve your partner as that person may need to remind you to continue your breathing techniques throughout labor. You also want to discuss a birth plan with your partner such as whether you will be using pain reliever. What kind? What if the doctor suggests a drug to get the pregnancy moving? Keep in mind that no matter what, this is your pregnancy, your birth, and your baby. You have the power to choose which route you will go. At the same time, complications can arise, so be flexible. Most doctors and nurses have the health of you and your precious baby in mind when they offer suggestions and intervention.
Tips For Week 36:
Birth Plan: If you desire a birth plan, get it in order this week if you have not already done so.
Hospital Bag: Pack your hospital bag if you do not have one yet. Many hospitals have lists of suggested items to include, but if you need added support, check out our fun Hospital Bag video.
Child CPR: Your childbirth class may have included infant and child CPR. If it did not, this is an extremely important class that you will want to look into. For inexpensive options, check your local YMCA, hospitals, and Red Cross organizations.
Breath: Don’t forget to review any labor and delivery information you have received, taking special care to focus on breathing techniques.
Take some time to spend with your partner, family and friends because once Baby is here, your time will limited.
You may even want to consider a date night with your partner before your sweet baby arrives.
Week 36 Basics:
Baby may have dropped lower in the pelvis by now
Urination is more frequent
Loose pelvic muscles are causing pain and difficulty walking
Restless leg syndrome may irritate you
Tie up all loose ends
Review birth class and materials as well as breathing techniques
Create a birth plan
6 lbs.(2.7 kg.), 18 in. (45.7 cm.)
Gaining an ounce a day
Immune and circulatory systems are developed
Shedding lanugo and vernix
Recognizes mother’s voice
Some women can identify the outline of body parts on their bellies
1. Roney C. The Baby Bump: 100s of Secrets to Surviving Those 9 Long Months. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books; 2010
2. Murray LJ, ed. Pregnancy: From Preconception to Birth. New York, NY: DK Publishing; 2010
3. Murkoff H, Mazel S. What to Expect When You’re Expecting. 4th ed. New York, NY: Workman Publishing Company, Inc.; 2008