36 weeks! You’re getting close to meeting your baby, with potentially only 4 weeks to go.
You might feel ‘ready’ to go or still have plenty to organize before your baby makes a grand entrance.
Don’t panic. You have plenty of time.
Read on for helpful tips and advice about what to expect at 36 weeks of pregnancy.
36 weeks pregnant in months
Well hello month 9 of pregnancy!
At 36 weeks you have begun the ninth month and you’re in the home stretch. In four more weeks, you’ll reach your due date – assuming you don’t have baby first.
Confused about months and weeks?
Remember, we start counting pregnancy from the first day of your last menstrual period. Week 1 of pregnancy is the start of the first month. But the first two weeks you’re not actually pregnant!
In pregnancy, each month lasts 4 weeks, because the average menstrual cycle is 28 days (4 weeks).
40 weeks means 9 completed months of pregnancy. So if you were to get to 41 or 42 weeks pregnant, you will have made it into the start of your 10th month.
What should I be doing at 36 weeks?
Relax! Enjoy this last month of pregnancy. Your little one will be here soon.
Take the time to pack hospital bags for you and your baby.
You can book pregnancy massages that will help align your body and relax any tense muscles.
Catch up with friends and family, go out with your partner, and generally make the most of this time.
The birth guide or birth plan for your journey should be mapped out by now. Remember, a birth guide is not a descriptive list – it’s about information sharing.
You don’t have to be so rigid with your plan that changes will end up creating huge disappointment. Birth plans should be flexible and allow for ‘what ifs’ so you can make decisions with confidence.
If you haven’t thought much about a birth plan yet, check out How ‘Going With The Flow’ Can Set You Up For A Disappointing Birth.
What should I pack in my hospital bag at 36 weeks?
At week 36 of pregnancy, it’s time to be prepared!
Here are the items you could be getting ready to go in your hospital bag:
- Comfortable quality maternity bra
- Sanitary pads or postnatal undies
- Witch hazel for frozen pads; they ease perineal soreness
- Comfortable clothes to labor in, and some to change into later
- Your special pillow
- Snacks and drinks
- Camera or video recorder
- Phone and charger
- Breast pads
- Support garment
- Water bottle.
Here are items you might need in your baby’s bag:
- Nappies – disposable or cloth
- All-in-ones or ‘onesies’, in a couple of different sizes, because weight and size are always a guess
- Hat and booties
- Pacifier (only advised if baby is unwell)
- Swaddle wrap or muslins.
If you’ve been expressing during pregnancy don’t forget a note to remind yourself to bring the colostrum.
If you’re having unexpected contractions, ask your partner, doula or support people to pack.
36 weeks pregnant with twins
All pregnancies are exciting but twins are next level excitement!
At 36 weeks pregnant you could be close to having your babies.
Twin pregnancies generally arrive earlier and if you’re having a c-section, obstetricians and gynecologists often want to do this early.
If you’re not having a c-section it’s wise to be ready to have your twins at any time from 36 weeks pregnant.
You will find more information about twins in Pregnant With Twins? 8 Interesting Facts About Twins.
Make sure you’re in contact with a multiple birth support network to provide you with the specialist advice that is needed for twins.
During pregnancy, definitely have a chat with a lactation consultant about the challenges of breastfeeding twins.
Ask your care provider to show you around the special care nursery, in case your twins need support at birth.
Draw on your support network to plan for the extra help you’ll need to recover and bond with your new babies.
Read this article How To Support Parents Of Twins – 10 Helpful Tips and share it with family and friends.
36 week pregnancy symptoms not to ignore
In pregnancy we expect everything to move along without any drama.
If you have certain signs and symptoms at 36 weeks pregnant, it’s vital you seek medical advice.
Some of the signs to look out for:
- Headache with visual disturbances
- Constant pain in the abdomen or anywhere else
- Sudden swelling in your legs, ankles, hands, feet and face
- Mid sternum chest pain
- You feel like your baby is not moving, or has reduced movement
- You have vaginal bleeding
- Your water breaks. It might be clear. Yellow-green indicates meconium might be in the amniotic fluid.
Contact your care provider immediately if you experience any of these complications.
36 weeks pregnant nausea
For many women, nausea settles down as they go into the second trimester. Unfortunately for a few women, nausea continues for the entire pregnancy.
If this is a new symptom for you at pregnancy week 36, this can be a sign that labor is starting, or you have some other pregnancy complication.
Always check with your healthcare providers if you have sudden ongoing nausea. Even if it’s not a major concern, they might be able to help you manage the symptoms.
36 weeks period pain and backache
At week 36, you might start to feel period-like pain and backache that comes and goes.
This can be an early sign of labor starting, as the uterus starts to change your cervix.
Braxton Hicks contractions can cause tightening as well, which sometimes feels very intense, but there should be no pain.
If you’re experiencing period pain and back ache, speak to your healthcare providers as soon as possible. They will want to assess you and check if you’re having contractions.
While you’re there, it’s likely they’ll check on baby too, to make sure all is well.
Sometimes these early labor signs settle with no concern.
If the pain increases, or becomes more frequent, and is accompanied by vaginal bleeding, seek immediate medical assistance.
Can your water break if you are not dilated?
Usually there is an exchange of chemicals and hormones between your baby and your body.
When your baby’s lungs are ready, they send a signal and your body starts the process of labor.
Your cervix begins thinning and dilating, the uterus contracts, and you see other signs of labor – until your baby is finally born.
Sometimes, the amniotic sac ruptures before this process has begun. This is called premature rupture of membranes, or PROM.
If it happens before 37 weeks, it’s called preterm premature rupture of membranes, or PPROM.
The cause of PPROM isn’t always known but it’s most often due to infection.
Is a 36 week ultrasound necessary?
This depends on how your pregnancy has progressed, and whether you have any health complications that require a check on your baby’s growth and development.
Most healthy pregnancies won’t need a third trimester, or 36 week, ultrasound.
Do some research, and speak to your trusted care provider to assess whether or not you need to have the scan.
Ultrasounds In Pregnancy – Risks and Benefits has plenty of information to help you make an informed decision.
Often care providers will do a scan to check on baby’s size. This can lead to unnecessary interventions due to a ‘big baby’.
Before you agree to have a scan for weight, check out How Accurate Is Ultrasound For Weight? so you can make the decision that’s right for you.
Why do doctors check your cervix at 36 weeks?
Cervical checks from 36 weeks have become normal prenatal care for obstetricians and gynecologists in many parts of the world.
Unless you’re showing signs of labor, there is no need for your doctor to check your cervix at this time.
If labor appears to be starting, your doctor might want to see whether your cervix is dilating. A cervix exam makes it easier to see what’s happening.
The procedure can be easily performed in your doctor’s clinic. It involves inserting a speculum and checking with a light to see whether the cervix is opening, or if there’s any amniotic fluid pooling in the vagina.
The doctor may want to do high and low swabs of the vagina to check for group B strep and/or amniotic fluid.
Your healthcare provider should discuss this procedure with you before doing the exam and explain why they want to do it.
You can decline these swabs or anything else in pregnancy if you feel this isn’t right for you.
Expressing at 36 weeks pregnant
BellyBelly midwife and IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) Rene Sandeman has the following advice about antenatal expressing at 36 weeks.
“Antenatal expressing is a great way to get the whole breastfeeding journey kick started.
“It can help bring your breast milk in more quickly and give you a little stash to take in with you if your baby is at risk of low blood sugar or has trouble latching and needs extra supplementation.
“It’s also a great skill to have, to learn how to hand express! It’s important to get clearance from your pregnancy care provider to make sure there are no risk factors.
“If you can book in with an IBCLC (lactation consultant) once you have clearance, they can teach you how, and give you more great breastfeeding education before your baby is born”.
More information about expressing at 36 weeks can be found in Expressing Colostrum During Pregnancy.
36 weeks baby movement
Over the months since you first felt your baby move, you’ll have come to know his normal pattern of movement.
Each baby has an individual pattern of movement. Some babies move more in the evening when you’re resting, and some are more active in the morning. Certain babies kick all the time and some seem to punch.
The key thing to note is whether that pattern changes, or you feel reduced movements. In either case, you need to contact your doctor or midwife immediately for an assessment.
There are a few outdated practices that suggest you just lie down or have a cold drink, and the baby will move.
Another myth is your baby’s movements slow down in the third trimester. This isn’t correct and can be dangerous advice.
Babies do sleep, and this should be part of their usual sleep-wake pattern.
Make sure to contact your healthcare provider if you are in any doubt about your baby’s movements.
Be sure to read Do All Babies Go Quiet Before Labour? for more insight into baby movement.
Is it safe to birth at 36 weeks?
By pregnancy week 36, your baby is considered premature if born now.
The lungs aren’t considered to be fully functioning at this stage, and babies could have some problems with breathing.
They might also have a low birth weight, and not have enough brown fat to help regulate their temperature.
It is not a hard and fast rule, however. Conception and development don’t always happen exactly as expected, on set dates. If it’s safer for your baby to be born now, rest assured they will have special support.
The digestive system is fully developed and babies born after 34 weeks are generally able to feed from the breast.
Most babies born at 36 weeks will do fine, even if they do need a little extra support as they adapt to the world outside.
Will a baby born at 36 weeks have to stay in the NICU?
Most babies at 36 weeks are born healthy and have no trouble adjusting to life outside the uterus.
However, there are a few who require some assistance, mostly breathing support and help with regulating their temperature.
As a result of these complications, late preterm babies might need to be admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
RDS (Respiratory Distress Syndrome) is by far the biggest risk for a baby born at 36 weeks.
Baby boys seem to have more trouble than late preterm girls.
RDS usually develops within the first 24 hours after birth, when you’re still in hospital.
Signs of RDS include:
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Sharp, pulling-in of the chest below or between the ribs with each breath
- Flaring nostrils with each breath
- Grunting or wheezing.
36 weeks baby position
Usually by 36 weeks of pregnancy your baby is in a head down position, with baby’s back facing your belly (anterior position).
Don’t stress if this is not the case, as babies can wait until labor to rotate.
Now is a great time to check in case you need to make some adjustments to help her get into an optimal position for birth.
Maybe she is in breech position (bum down) and needs to flip.
Breech babes are just a variation of normal; they can be safely birthed vaginally if you’re supported by your healthcare provider.
Some tips that might help your body in pregnancy:
- Optimal fetal positioning with Spinning Babies
- Chiropractic care
- Relaxation – let that oxytocin flow.
Chat to your doctor or midwife for more advice.
There’s more information on baby positioning in Optimal Fetal Positioning – How To Make Birth Easier.
What does a baby look like at 36 weeks?
At 36 weeks pregnant your baby looks more like the baby you’ll meet soon.
She continues to shed the downy lanugo hair, and vernix caseosa, which is the protective substance that covers the skin.
A baby swallows this hair and skin during the time in the uterus. Once digested, it stays in the bowels as meconium, a black or dark green sticky substance. This meconium will become the first poo after birth.
36 weeks baby weight in kg
At 36 weeks pregnant your baby weighs around 2.6 kg (6 pounds) and approximately 47 cm (18.6 inches) from head to toe.
Picture romaine lettuce and this is about the size of your baby right now.