Welcome to Scary Mommy’s pregnancy week by week guide! We’re here to give you all the info about what to expect when you’re expecting: be it week by week symptoms, your baby’s development, your changing body, or ultrasounds and appointments. Here’s everything you need to know about week 36.
Your Body at Week 36 Pregnant
You’re in the home stretch of your pregnancy and the good news is that, at long last, you get to meet your beautiful baby in about a month. The less fun news is that you’re probably pretty darn tired.
Between going about your daily routine with a growing belly and dealing with the inevitable anxiety that sets in whether it’s your first baby or your fifth, fatigue and exhaustion are completely normal. Be sure to take naps when you can and listen to your body when it tells you to put up your feet and relax. If that means ignoring a few chores in favor of a Netflix marathon or a good book, so be it!
…But You May Still Be Plagued By Insomnia
Even if you’re exhausted, you may have trouble falling or staying asleep because it’s difficult to get into a comfortable position, you have to pee constantly, or the temperature in your room suddenly feels hot and stuffy. In fact, it’s estimated that 78 percent of expecting moms experience insomnia.
Although there’s no magic fix for insomnia, certain habits and routines can help. If you’re experiencing anxiety, try meditating or talking it out with a friend or your partner before bedtime. Eat dinner on the earlier side, try to consume the majority of your required fluids earlier in the day to cut back on nighttime bathroom runs, and put away all your electronics an hour before bedtime.
Your Weight Has Stabilized
At 36 weeks, your baby is gaining about an ounce per day but your own weight will be pretty stable from now until you give birth. So don’t worry if you’ve stopped gaining weight; it’s not a sign that there’s anything wrong with your baby’s growth.
Your Baby at Week 36 Pregnant
At 36 weeks pregnant, your baby is about the size of a rack of ribs, weighing in at about six pounds. And as you’re preparing for their arrival by putting the finishing touches on the nursery and buying all the cute onesies, they’re getting ready for their grand entrance, too.
Your baby typically adjusts to the head-down position at 36 weeks, which means they drop lower in your abdomen. If they haven’t yet assumed this position, don’t panic — give it another week and if they’re still in breech position, your doctor will advise about the best plan of attack to ensure a healthy birth.
Now that your baby is bigger, they have less space to move around. You’ll still feel them moving, but they won’t have the same amount of room to do those gymnastics and karate moves they performed earlier in your pregnancy. Instead of kicking and jabbing, expect to feel more squirming and stretching movements.
Your Symptoms and Health at Week 36 Pregnant
Monitor Your Mood
In addition to the physical symptoms at 36 weeks pregnant, don’t forget to monitor your emotional well-being. If you notice signs of depression or severe anxiety, don’t ignore them — it could be a sign that you’re at risk for postpartum depression. This is something you’ll want to discuss with your doctor STAT so you have a plan in place in case you do develop the mood disorder.
You May Experience Braxton Hicks Contractions
As you enter week 36 of your pregnancy, be prepared to experience at least one or five false alarms that you’re going into labor. This is due to Braxton Hicks contractions, which are contractions that occur before actual labor. Braxton Hicks contractions (also referred to as “practice contractions”) are common in the third trimester and often occur after sexual activity, when your bladder is full, if someone touches your belly, or when you’re dehydrated.
What are some signs that you’re experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions and not the real thing? They’re infrequent, non-rhythmic, irregular in intensity, and uncomfortable rather than painful. To ease the contractions, try changing positions, taking a warm bath, and drinking water or herbal tea.
Welcome To Indigestion City
Indigestion and heartburn are common throughout pregnancy, but at week 36 these symptoms often intensify due to your stomach getting pushed up as the baby moves down. In a super fun domino effect, you may become bloated and gassy as a result, and some women also experience constipation.
The best way to alleviate these symptoms is by consuming a number of small portions throughout the day rather than eating two or three large meals. Try to eat slowly — rushing through a meal means you’ll inevitably swallow more air which is bad news for your digestive system.
An increase in vaginal discharge is common at this stage and you may notice it’s thicker and sometimes accompanied by blood. A thick amount of mucus blocks the cervical opening during pregnancy in order to prevent bacteria from entering the uterus. During the home stretch of your pregnancy, this mucus is sometimes pushed into the vagina, resulting in discharge that’s pink, brown, or red.
This type of discharge is especially common after a vaginal examination or sexual activity, which can bruise your cervix. Per the Mayo Clinic, it’s not cause for concern or alarm unless the amount of vaginal bleeding is comparable to a normal menstrual period. If this occurs, contact your doctor right away.
For a lot of twin mothers, week 36 is either the last week of pregnancy or the week of delivery. As your doctor has probably informed you, twins usually arrive two to four weeks earlier than singletons. This is either because your bump swells bigger sooner and triggers contractions, or because your doctor feels it’s the safest time. By now, you should pretty much be off your feet and resting all day long.
You’ll unknowingly experience dilation and effacement on the week you give birth. This is when your cervix slowly opens up and thins out, and it continues through labour to prepare for your new arrivals.
When your water breaks, it will either feel like a slow leak or a gush of water. It can be easy to mistake a little urine leak for your water breaking, but as this fluid doesn’t have a scent, you should soon be able to differentiate. Once you know it’s definitely your water breaking, make note of the time and start timing contractions.
At the start of labour, contractions usually last for 30-60 seconds with 5-20 minute breaks in between. They’ll later get more painful and last 45-60 seconds with breaks between them shortening to 3-5 minutes. You’re officially in labour, so get to the hospital!
As overwhelming and/or scary as things may be, your doctors and nurses will be there to monitor you every step of the way. You’ve made it this far, it’s just one last push (ahem) to meet your little ones!
The contents of this article have been medically reviewed by Ruth A. Tessler, M.D. in July, 2019.
Written by Caitlin Flynn.
Follow Preggo Nancy’s pregnancy journey week-by-week and share in her joy, her symptoms, and even her pregnancy cravings.