Pregnancy Week 36

Only four more weeks to go! Doesn’t it seem like a magic that once a poppy seed is now big enough to live his life in the outer world. Your baby has prepared himself to survive in this 36 weeks journey. He is almost done with his growth and development. Most of his organs are working. He can plan any day to come out, so you better try to put in a little prep work.

Week 36 is good time to enjoy your last weeks of pregnancy and pamper yourself as much as you can because that little bundle of joy will bring huge responsibilities along with.

Growth and Development of Baby

For more weeks to go and your baby is preparing himself to meet you now. Packing almost an ounce every day, your baby weighs around 6 pounds and 18 ½ inches long.

By now, he or she must have shredded their waxy protective covering known as vernix caseosa which was meant to protect the baby from the nine month amniotic bath. Along with that the downy hair that was regulating body temperature are also shedding. Both these waste products are actually swallowed by baby which is accumulated as a blackish mixture which comes out as the first sticky black tarry bowel movement of the baby known as meconium.

There are cases when babies pass their meconium in uterus itself which changes its color from watery fluid to greenish. If your waters break and you see this color, call you doctor immediately.

Your baby must have changed his position to head down to allow easy way out. If not, doctor may call you for External Cephalic Version ECV (explained later in the article).

Babies born during this week are considered early term. However, after this week from week 37-39, they will be called pre-term and the full term babies are born in 39-40 weeks.

Most of the baby’s systems have attained complete maturity. For example, blood circulation is well efficiently working; the immune system is also now strong enough to protect the baby from infections. The digestive system of the baby is developed but still not operational. This is because until now, the baby is dependent on the umbilical cord for his nutrition. As soon as the baby comes out, he or she will start his own process of digestion. It will take a year or two to speed up that system.

Although, your baby is completely developed to meet you and survive in the external world, but his skull bones are still not fused so that head can easily maneuver through the birth canal. However, this is not the only soft structure of baby’s body. The baby’s bones and cartilages are still soft. This again helps in the easy vaginal delivery.

The baby must have down into the pelvis and you must be feeling them lesser and lower than before. They will not need any special care and would be able to breathe on their own but they could have some issues with feeding and sucking.

External cephalic version ECV

During late pregnancies, babies tend to turn their head down as a preparation for delivery. However, some babies fail to do and are said to be breech babies. In such cases, doctors wait till late delivery to turn the baby’s position by himself. However, if that does not happen, they will try to turn the baby using ECV procedure.

In this procedure, the practitioner will guide the baby in head down position by pressing his hands on your stomach. The ultrasound is used as his guide. The patient is given some drugs to relax their uterine muscles.

Before starting the procedure, you will be scanned for the perfect position. If your baby lied in awkward position, he may dismiss the procedure. The size of the baby and the amount of amniotic fluid also affects the procedure.

Rh negative mothers are given Rh immunoglobulin injection before starting the procedure as there is risk of some blood leaking around the placenta.

There is only 50% success rate of this procedure and in case of multiple pregnancies, a low-lying placenta and birth complication, the procedure is not recommended.

Changes in Mother’s Body

By the end of this week, you will be quite close to the big day. Your body is preparing mentally, physically and emotionally to welcome your baby. Let us see what else you may expect in the 36th week of pregnancy.

  • The weekly ante-natal appointments are must for you as you will be tested for urine, blood pressure, weight and uterine size. If discrepancy occurs in baby’s development and your Delivery-date is close, you may be sent for an ultrasound to check the size of the baby, amniotic fluid or the placental size.
  • Good sleep must be a far off dream. As you have the only option of sleeping on your sides, your hips and thighs may become achy. You will just toss and turn around in your bed. Get yourself some comfortable maternity pillows.
  • The big uterus may give you bladder full feeling with only a small amount of urine and thus you may need to rush to the bathroom too often. While getting up to pee in the night, be careful and get up slowly from the bed. Let the low light switched on to guide your way in the dark night.
  • Pregnancy makes you clumsy and there is no doubt about it. On top of that, your round structure may make you more unstable. Watch your steps and avoid any obstacles in your path as there are high chances of tumbling over.
  • Many women experience what is called nesting in their last month of pregnancy. In this, you gain an unusual surge of energy and compelling need to clean and decorate your surroundings. You will do all the dusting that was pending from last few months. May be this is gesture to welcome your baby in clean and beautiful house. Nesting helps you to occupy your mind when waiting for the baby become difficult. However, try to do not overdo with any stressful work.
  • Your body is prepping up for the labor and delivery. Your cervix must be dilating, joints and tissues (especially of pelvic region) must be loosening and softening. This may result in some soar or ache. You may unintentionally put your hand on your lower back or hips and even grimacing. However, all this is helpful for vaginal birth.
  • As your uterus is thousand times its original volume, you may feel the urge to take rest. Many women tend to retain more fluid in the last month of pregnancy. Whenever you find time, elevate your feet or lie on your left side as it will enhance your circulation.
  • All those Braxton hicks’ contractions which were quite irregular by now, must be becoming more frequent. In case, you are not getting enough fluids, you may notice some physical contractions after any physical activity.
  • Many babies engage their head in the pelvis by this week. If happens so, you may get some relief in your short breath. Now, your lungs and diaphragm have more space to expand, you will be able to take bigger and deeper breathes.

Some Important Tips to Consider

  • This is the perfect time for you to get ready for the hospital. Even in cases of completely normal pregnancy, any emergency condition may occur from the next week. So be prepared always. Some of the essentials for mother before heading to the hospital are health insurance card, breast pads, going home outfit (this should be little less in size than your late pregnancy clothes), and sanitary pads.
  • Some women decrease their fluid intake to get rid of edema. However, just remember that this will not help and you must drink at least eight glasses of water in a day.
  • Read any materials of your child birth classes and practice some breathing techniques.
  • You can plan a dinner with your partner as this would be your last cozy and comfortable dinner before baby. After that, planning a dinner would require big preparations.
  • Your baby is moving less by now so don’t be alarmed. However, take notice of his movements for at least two or three times in a day.
  • To relieve the body ache and soar, you can do some pelvic exercises, take warm baths, get massage or try some complementary therapies.

Know the Different Stages of Labor

Now, when you are so near to your big day, you must know everything about labor. A labor lasts for around 15 hours but may extend up to 20 hours. However, for second time moms, this may be for 8 hours only. A labor generally has three stages:

  1. First Stage: The first stage includes only the dilation of the labor. In early phase, the contractions are often misunderstood with Braxton Hicks contractions. However, soon, the contractions become regular, frequent and stronger. In this cervix dilates from 4 to 8 cm.

Following this comes a transitional phase, in which cervix dilates from 8-10 cm with contractions that are quite strong and occurs in 2-3 minutes and last for a minute or more.

  1. Second Stage: This is the pushing stage of the labor after the complete dilation of cervix. In this, baby finally decent into the vagina and takes birth. This may last for few minutes to few hours. The head first comes out, and then shoulders come out one by one and then the rest of the body. This stage is marked with lot of emotions with a burst of energy.
  2. Third Stage: This is the final stage of labor that occurs immediately after birth and ends with the delivery of placenta. This stage is marked with mild contractions.

The wait is almost over! Soon, you will have the beautiful result of all the painful and disappointing situations in your arms. All the best!!