You are now nearing the end of your eighth month of pregnancy…
You are wavering from feeling tired to having sudden bursts of energy. Your “nesting” instinct is beginning to kick in and you may be feeling restless and having some anxiety about your impending birth process. Every expectant mother goes through this, so relax. In this article, we will discuss what you can expect at 36 weeks pregnant.
Your baby at 36 weeks pregnant
Your baby is approximately 20 inches long and weighs about six pounds. The head and the rest of the bones are still fairly soft so they can fit through the birth canal, but the bones will strengthen over the next few years.
Your baby’s immune system is fully developed to help fight infection after birth. Baby’s heartbeat is still pretty fast, somewhere between 110 and 160 beats per minute. Even after birth, their heart rate will beat quicker than yours. Your baby can hear your voice so this is a good time to start bonding with your baby by talking, singing and reading aloud.
Your baby is not only shedding the lanugo, which has served as a protective coat, but also the vernix caseosa, which is a waxy substance that acted as an additional covering. Your baby will swallow the vernix caseosa along with the amniotic fluid which will produce their first bowel movement, a blackish mixture called meconium.
Your baby is now dropping into the birth position. Your doctor will be able to determine if the baby has dropped. If the baby has not yet dropped and is in the breech position, your doctor may recommend a cesarean section. If your baby were to be born at 36 weeks chances for survival are over 99 percent.
Your body at 36 weeks pregnant
As your baby is dropping to prepare for birth you may feel extra pressure and pain on your pelvis and bladder. You will have to run to the bathroom more frequently. If your baby is really low, you may also experience some vaginal discomfort and pain.
Your breasts will start to feel heavier and even lumpy as your body is starting to produce colostrum and you may even experience some leakage here and there, which is normal. You might want to start wearing nursing bras for both support and comfort. You may feel clumsy or off-balance and may experience hip pain in the last few weeks.
Other symptoms you may be experiencing this week include edema (swelling in face, fingers, hands, feet and ankles), pelvic pain, vaginal discharge (may be pinkish in color, but this is normal toward the end of your pregnancy), insomnia, itchy belly, gas, bloating, and constipation.
Unless otherwise instructed by your doctor, you can still continue light exercise. Walking 20-30 minutes every day is beneficial as it may help reduce the aches and pains you are experiencing.
Start to eat smaller meals
Since the baby is putting pressure on your abdomen you may be feeling fuller quicker, but do not stop eating. You should eat smaller meals and snacks throughout the day. Your baby still needs its essential nutrients, as do you, as you are preparing for labor, so it is important that you continue to eat healthy throughout the duration of your pregnancy. Continue to eat carbohydrates, proteins, fats, dairy, meats and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Continue taking any supplements that have been prescribed by your physician and keep your weekly appointments from now up until birth.
At 36 weeks pregnant you will want to start to prepare for your birth. You and your partner can do “practice runs” to the birthing facility. You also want to make sure to pack your hospital bag. You should pack “coming home” outfits for both you and baby, comfy night clothes, a robe and slippers, books and magazines, your insurance information, your birth plan, toothpaste and toothbrush, deodorant and other ‘essential’ toiletries and a baby blanket. You will also want to make sure to pack your phone and charger, and a camera and batteries.
Braxton Hicks contractions may increase during this time. Pay attention to the frequency and duration. Braxton Hicks are infrequent and subside over time. True labor contractions are intense and increase with frequency. You will know when you are experiencing true labor when your contractions occur every ten minutes or more. Other signs of labor are water breakage, severe backache, dilation of your cervix and a thick, mucusy discharge and diarrhea. You should contact your doctor or midwife immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
It is around this time in your pregnancy that you will notice your nesting instinct kicking in. You will have sudden bursts of energy and have the urge to have everything in place for the arrival of your baby. This is due to the increase of adrenaline in your system. It is important that you do not push yourself or overdo it. Make sure you are getting plenty of rest and avoid heavy lifting on climbing on ladders. Ask for help when needed and make sure you are getting plenty of rest.