36 Weeks Pregnant
You are 36 weeks pregnant! If you haven’t already started maternity leave, make sure each day when you leave work, you are prepared for the possibility that you might not come back tomorrow.
If you are able to, take maternity leave sooner than later – giving yourself time to rest and relax before birth can make a huge difference.
Some women work until very close to their due date and before they know it, they are in labour without having rested – straight into the demands of being a new mother, which is especially exhausting at first.
Make a date or two with your partner. The longer you wait for that last date night, the less likely it will be to actually happen. A nice relaxing evening out is just what you might need right now.
Go over your birth plan one last time to ensure both you and your partner are aligned with what you want from your birth experience, and that you’re comfortable with that plan.
Don’t have a birth plan or not sure if it’s worth having one? Take a look at our article on birth plans which includes a free downloadable template in a word document. Review information from your birthing class, like breathing techniques to ensure you’re ready.
36 Weeks Pregnant – Your Body
At 36 weeks pregnant you may be experiencing the famous pregnancy waddle, due to your ligaments softening to make it easier for baby to be born.
You may also be finding it quite uncomfortable or even painful to walk now, thanks to pelvic pain. If your baby has started to engage or ‘dropped’ into your pelvis this can make walking even more of a challenge. Usually first babies engage sooner than subsequent babies and the added pressure on your bladder and in your abdomen can be quite uncomfortable.
You will most likely start seeing your birth caregiver weekly from now. Some caregivers may offer a vaginal examination to determine baby is in the correct position or to see if your cervix has begun to soften.
Be aware there is no medical benefit in doing an internal exam – and every exam increases the risk of potential infection. Some doctors (and many midwives) don’t do them at all which says a great deal about their importance or relevance. An exam will not change anything, unless there is a suspected medical problem that warrants an exam.
Read our article about internal/vaginal exams for more information.
Your birth caregiver may recommend a test for Group B streptococcus (GBS) around this time. These bacteria are commonly found in the vagina, rectum or intestine and usually are harmless.
There is a 1-2% chance of passing it onto your baby during pregnancy or birth, which can become serious if not managed. Most hospitals prefer to screen all women for GBS and others will offer screening only to those deemed high risk.
Screening is optional but it is worth becoming well educated about GBS to make an informed decision.
36 Weeks Pregnant – Your Baby
At the end of this week your baby will be considered full term and would not be premature if she was born before then.
Your baby’s body systems are pretty much ready for life in the outside world, except her digestive system. Up to birth she has been receiving all her nourishment from you via the placenta and umbilical cord, so it can take the first few years for her digestive system to mature.
Inside her bowel, meconium has built up and will be passed after birth as her first poo. Sometimes babies can pass this substance in utereo and if your waters break, they can appear a green colour. If this happens, contact your birth caregiver immediately as it can be a sign baby is distressed. Find out more about meconium.
Your baby’s bones and cartilage are still soft. This makes for an easier transition for birth, allowing baby to move, turn and wriggle down. The primary bones in baby’s skull are separated, creating that soft spot you’ve heard so much about. This allows her skull to mould and fit through the pelvis and vagina.
Your baby’s weight may be as high as 3kg and she is about 47 cm long, and is roughly the size of a large cos lettuce.