You’re almost there! Since the baby will arrive in a few weeks, make sure that you ready yourself both physically and emotionally. Put on the final prep work as much as you can. Here’s a complete guide you can follow when you’re 36 weeks pregnant.
How Big Is the Baby?
Your baby is most likely the size of a large cabbage. It’s approximately 18 inches in length (from crown to heel) and 5 to 6 pounds in weight.
Status of Your Baby
At 36 weeks pregnant, you should expect that your baby’s head will already be located down by your cervix. Don’t fret if your baby has not reached this position yet. Most babies will move towards the birth canal up to the last week or two of the pregnancy. The only problem with this is if your doctor suspects that your baby has a breech presentation, a case experienced by 1 in every 25 pregnancies.
A breech presentation refers to a baby not turning in the other direction. This orientation poses a high risk and will likely result in cesarean delivery. Once your doctor feels that this is the case in your pregnancy, he or she will order an ultrasound to confirm. Some doctors, however, send their patients into an external cephalic version (ECV). It is a nonsurgical method performed to try to turn the baby.
At this stage of the pregnancy, most of your baby’s systems are ready for life outside. In other words, they’re already mature. For instance, the immune system can already adequately protect the baby from infections outside the womb. His or her blood is circulating perfectly, as well.
Furthermore, your baby is ready for his or her first gasp of air as the lungs are now developed. While inside the womb, there is no risk of drowning since the lungs are still deflated. It will become fully functional once the baby takes the first breath of air and gets oxygen through the placenta.
One organ system that needs some finishing touches, however, is the digestive system. Take note that that this won’t fully mature until after birth because the baby has so far been relying on your umbilical cord for nutrition. It entails that the digestive system is not yet operational, even if it is already present. On average, it will take the child year or two to bring his or her digestion up to speed.
Changes in Your Body
You have probably gained around 25 to 35 pounds throughout your pregnancy. At 36 weeks pregnant, however, you don’t have to worry about the heaviness and added weight. It will most likely be an additional of 0.5 pounds per week from now on until the baby is born.
Do you feel like you are walking like a penguin lately? Don’t worry; it’s not your imagination. Many moms are doing the penguin waddle since most of the hormones in your connective tissue are softening and loosening.
What’s happening here is a good thing since it’s more for the benefit of your baby. The softer and looser your joints are, the easier it is for your baby to pass through your pelvis. They will most likely be more flexible at this stage, mainly because they have grown at a large size already by this point. This activity by your hormones is just your body’s way of preparing itself to squeeze your baby out of a narrow space.
Pregnancy Symptoms at Week 36
Compared to past stages, you’ll probably experience more Braxton Hicks or practice contractions at 36 weeks pregnant. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the difference between Braxton Hicks and actual labor contractions so that you don’t mistake one for the other.
If your womb muscles tighten and the stomach hardens for a short while and then softens again, then these are practice contractions. If you feel that they are becoming regular and more painful, then these are already labor contractions. Contact your labor ward as soon as possible once you experience the latter.
Because of all the discomfort that you are feeling, you might wake up in the middle of the night. In some cases, some soon-to-be mothers can’t even sleep at all! Add to this the emotional and mental pressure the pregnancy brings to you, especially now that you are only a few weeks away from your due date.
Whenever this happens, don’t get up and distract yourself by doing house chores. Just lie down and find some ways to relax, such as meditating or reading.
Your breathing will be more relaxed and deeper at this stage. The reason for this is that the baby is starting to descend towards your pelvis. Hence, there is more space in your lungs for air to circulate. The downside with this, however, is that the pressure transfers to your pelvis. Aside from your baby’s head pressing deeper and deeper, your heavier uterus also weighs you down.
Don’t be too worried if you find yourself spurting a small amount of wee whenever you laugh or cough. It is only an effect of your pelvic floor muscles relaxing in preparation for labor.
Your baby’s body is crowding the walls of your digestive system. Therefore, it does not work the same way it did when you were not yet pregnant. With this in mind, try avoiding spicy, citrusy, greasy, and vinegary foods to help prevent heartburn as much as possible. You may also ask the advice of your doctor whether you are allowed to take antacids on the side.
Blame your belly again for having worse constipation. If you don’t want to experience such a dilemma, make sure that you won’t tax your digestive tract that much. Take small meals frequently instead of eating big ones a few times. This strategy is an excellent way to counteract constipation.
Swollen Ankles And Feet
As mentioned above, you have gained a massive amount of weight throughout the pregnancy. It means that you are carrying a lot of load as compared to before. Your body is also retaining more fluids at this stage. Because of this, it is not only your feet and ankles that will be swollen but also your hands, fingers, and face.
Don’t fret too much; this pain will completely disappear once you deliver your baby. If you’re feeling sudden or severe swelling, however, then it might be a sign of a critical medical condition. Make sure to contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Tips for the 36 Weeks Pregnant Mom
Take Note of Movement Changes
At 36 weeks pregnant, this stage is one of the most crucial weeks. Hence, you need to keep track of the movements of your baby every day. Try drinking a sugary beverage when you’re feeling worried about your baby’s condition. If your baby perks up, then everything is still good.
If you feel that there is an unusual change or pattern in his or her behavior and movement, call your doctor immediately.
Undergo Perineal Massage
The perineum refers to the area between the anus and the vagina. Massaging this area regularly before your due date will reduce the chances of undergoing episiotomy or cutting the perineum on the birth table.
Pick a Pediatrician
If you still have not decided who your pediatrician will be, then this is the perfect time to do so. You don’t have the assurance that your baby will still be inside your womb in the coming days.
Ask your family members and friends for pediatrician referrals. However, don’t just rely on their word. You still need to call and meet up with this person before you ask for their services. Gauge whether you are comfortable with them or not. You should this factor take into consideration so that you’ll feel less stressed.
Drink Plenty of Vitamin B6
It’s a great idea to fill yourself with an adequate supply of pyridoxine to up your protein levels. Pyridoxine is a vitamin known as B6; both you and your baby need to use the protein it provides for cell-building jobs. You’ll find this type of vitamin in wheat germ, bananas, avocados, soybeans, bran, brown rice, tomatoes, oatmeal, watermelon, meat, and spinach.
Pack Your Birth Bags
You need to pack your birth bag as early as now since you don’t know when your baby will come out. This strategy will also put less stress on your partner. Here are some of the things that you might want to include in your birth bag:
- Copy of your birth plan
- Insurance information
- Toiletries such as toothbrush and deodorant
- Comfortable pajamas
- Something that will relax you during labor
- Jacket or sweater
- Pregnancy pillow
Hurrah! You’re almost at the finish line. Do not stress yourself too much; just enjoy the last couple of weeks as a pregnant mom. You’ll see your bundle of joy in no time!