Your pregnancy: 36 weeks

The amount of amniotic fluid surrounding your baby reaches its peak this week. Although your baby will continue to grow over the next couple of weeks, the amniotic fluid will decrease as your body reabsorbs some of it.

Felt baguette used to show how big baby is at 36 weeks
Photo: Mandy Milks, Erik Putz, Anthony Swaneveld. Felt: thefeltstore.com

What’s going on in there: Fetal development at 36 weeks

Well, it’s all starting to feel pretty real as you enter your ninth month, right? At 36 weeks pregnant, your baby weighs about 2.6 kilograms (5.8 pounds) and measures about 47 centimetres (18.5 inches) long. He’s gaining a little more than 28 grams (one ounce) a day. His skin is becoming smooth and soft but is still coated with vernix, a thick white covering that helps protect the skin from drying out in the amniotic fluid. His gums have firmed up, and his circulatory system is fully formed. However, other crucial growth and development in the lungs, brain and liver are still going on in the weeks to come.

36 weeks pregnant symptoms

As your baby continues to gain weight, she moves farther down into your pelvis (maybe you’ll hear people saying “Oh, the baby’s dropped!”). This creates pressure on your pelvis—not the most comfortable feeling ever. You may also experience “lightning crotch,” a non-medical, hilariously cartoonish—but sadly very accurate—name that some moms use to describe short, sharp pains in their vagina, rectum or perineum as their ligaments and muscles cope with the baby’s movements and weight. (If the pain is ongoing, check with your midwife or doctor.) There’s not much you can do about pelvic pain or pressure other than try different positions to feel more comfortable. But the upside is that your lungs now have more room again and you can breathe more deeply.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS), which is characterized by jittery legs or a painful “crawly” feeling during the night, can also kick in during late pregnancy, if it hasn’t already. Before bed, stretch your legs, get a leg massage from your partner or enjoy a warm bath. Bedtime is also a good time to take your calcium supplement or drink a glass of milk, as calcium seems to reduce RLS.

What’s on your mind this week

Your prenatal appointments will probably increase to once a week during this final month. You may undergo a variety of tests, including a urine test to check for protein, which can indicate pre-eclampsia (which occurs in five to 10 percent of pregnant women).

Group B strep testing
Between weeks 35 and 37, you will likely have a Group B streptococcus (GBS) test, where your doctor or midwife takes a swab of your vagina and rectum. (Some healthcare providers allow you to do the swab yourself in the bathroom.) She may also check your urine for this strain of bacteria. GBS isn’t a serious problem for you, but it could be harmful to your baby if it’s passed on during labour. If you test positive for Group B streptococcus, you will be offered antibiotics (through an IV) during a portion of your labour. Some women are able to opt out of GBS testing, so be sure to discuss it with your healthcare provider.

Hey, baby!
You may have additional ultrasounds if you’ve had complications in previous pregnancies, such as high blood pressure, a breech baby, diabetes or gestational diabetes, concerns about the baby’s size or complications with your placenta. If there are no issues, the 20-week ultrasound pic may have been the last glimpse, until you actually meet your baby face-to-face. (Crazy, right?) Some women opt to pay out-of-pocket for an extra scan at a private 3D-ultrasound location. 

woman holding pregnant bellyWhy you shouldn’t shave down there before labour

Hairy topic
You probably haven’t seen your feet or nether regions for weeks. Are you considering some hair removal before the big day? Keep in mind that shaving after 36 weeks isn’t recommended due to an increased risk of infection with a C-section delivery from tiny cuts in the skin. Clipping is also recommended over waxing or depilatory creams because your skin is so sensitive during pregnancy and often reacts differently to wax. Of course, being au naturel is totally fine, too.

Just for kicks

You might be into some mellow, distracting or motivating tunes during your labour—or you could tell your partner to turn off the music. Right. This. Instant. It could go either way, really. Go ahead and create a labour playlist like this couple did, but be prepared for all your best-laid plans and usual preferences to change when you’re in the moment, dealing with contractions.

Baby names

Still stumped on a name? Have a look at some more baby names that are on the verge of extinction. When these names eventually come back in style, you’ll know that you were at the head of the pack.

Pregnancy to-do list: 36 weeks

If you’re giving birth at a hospital or birth centre, sign up for a tour. It’s a great opportunity to check out the labour and delivery rooms and ask questions.

Parents with babies who are close in age to yours are amazing resources and may be new friends, too. Research new baby groups and classes in your area or venues like mommy-and-baby movie screenings, baby-friendly cafés and drop-in centres for when you’re ready to go out again. Now’s the time to exchange contact info if you’ve hit it off with a cool mom-to-be at a prenatal class.

It’s also a good time to take stock of what items you are missing from your registry—many stores will offer you a discount if you purchase all of the remaining products at once. And maybe you want to return these nine things baby doesn’t really need in the first year:

Crib bedding set

Read more:
Cool or scary? This video of an unborn baby is fascinating
Introducing Babypod, the first-ever concert for your fetus
Next up: 37 weeks pregnant

 

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