36 Weeks Pregnant: Symptoms, Tips, Baby Development

You’re 36 weeks pregnant, which means you’ve officially entered your last month of pregnancy! Your baby is pretty much ready to come into the world, and it’s looking pink and chubby inside of your belly. They just have a tiny bit of growing left to do before they’re in your arms.

Read on to learn more about what to expect when you’re 36 weeks pregnant:

36 weeks pregnant in months

When you’re 36 weeks pregnant, you’re beginning your 9th and final month of pregnancy.

Your baby at week 36 of pregnancy

A 36-week old baby looks pretty much the same way as they will once they’re born. Gone are the days of skinny limbs and fused eyelids. Now, your baby is getting chubby with pink cheeks. It can open its eyes, suck its thumb, breathe, and recognize voices!

How big is your baby at 36 weeks pregnant?

At 36 weeks, your baby’s size is similar to a bunch of bananas, or a papaya. A 36-week fetus weighs around 5.8 pounds or 2.63 kilograms. Your baby measures approximately 18 to 19 inches long (45 to 48 centimeters). There’s still time for your baby to grow a tiny bit more before delivery.

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Pregnancy week 36 fetal development

By week 36 of pregnancy, fetal development is practically finished. The baby’s circulatory system is ready to meet the outside world, and its immune system is gearing up as well. One exception is their digestive system since they haven’t had anything to digest during pregnancy. This system won’t mature completely until the baby is 1 to 2 years old.

Your baby’s skull is made up of relatively soft and flexible bones. This will allow him or her to go through the birth canal during delivery. They’ll eventually harden during the baby’s infant years. 

They’ll be shedding most of their lanugo, which is the soft downy hair that covered their body. These tiny hairs will mix in with the amniotic fluid. Inside their bowels, their first stool is forming. This is called meconium. It’s sterile and your baby won’t release it until after birth unless there’s any sort of fetal distress.

Your body at week 36 of pregnancy

It’s normal to feel like you’re running out of space by week 36 of pregnancy. You’re probably doing the “waddle walk” by now. This characteristic walk helps you find balance while dealing with your baby bump.

Your weight gain by week 36 of pregnancy should be somewhere between 20 to 30 pounds (9 to13 kg). An average woman requires 2,000 to 2,500 kcal/day. The caloric requirement is increased by 300 kcal/day during pregnancy and by 500 kcal/day when breastfeeding. 

That might seem like a lot, but it’s actually the recommended amount for women with a normal BMI. A lot of that weight comes from the baby itself, the placenta, amniotic fluid, and extra blood volume.

36 weeks pregnant belly

Your uterus reaches all the way up to your ribcage by now. But once your baby’s head engages - that is, when the baby’s head drops into your pelvis - your 36-week pregnant baby bump will actually seem a bit smaller. That’s because your baby will start to place itself lower inside your uterus in preparation for birth. This is referred to as “lightening”.

36 weeks pregnant symptoms

These are some of the most common 36 week pregnant symptoms:

  • Better breathing: in positive news, the lightening will decrease the amount of pressure that the baby was placing on your lungs. This will allow you to breathe more comfortably. You could also experience less heartburn for the same reason.
  • Vaginal pressure: your lungs might feel more free, but your vagina is now carrying that extra weight. Some women compare the last few weeks of pregnancy to carrying a bowling ball between your legs.
  • Mucus discharge: if your mucus plug hasn’t dropped yet, it could do so this week. It’s normal to experience thick, heavy, mucus discharge once this happens. It could also be pinkish or have streaks of blood.
  • Braxton Hicks contractions: your uterus is in full-on practice mode for the big event. These contractions don’t lead to labor, but you should keep note of their duration, intensity, and frequency and call the doctor if they increase.
  • Frequent urination: your baby is putting tons of pressure over your bladder, so expect frequent trips to the bathroom. Urinary incontinence is also normal.
  • Swollen ankles and feet: as long as your swelling is mild, it can be perfectly normal. However, sudden or severe swelling needs to be checked out by a doctor immediately, since it can be a sign of preeclampsia.

36 weeks pregnant ultrasound

By week 36 of pregnancy, you’re probably seeing your doctor every week according to the schedule of prenatal visits. Your doctor could perform a 36-week ultrasound to check up on the baby’s heartbeat, the placenta, and the baby’s position and size.

Your doctor will also measure how tall your uterus is, and they could offer third-trimester screening tests, such as Group B Strep tests.

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36 weeks pregnant lifestyle and diet

  • Eat smaller meals: in addition to maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy, eating smaller meals can help you with other pregnancy symptoms, like bloating.
  • Get all the rest you can: sleep on your side or reclining, and try to catch as many hours of sleep as possible. Keep your strength for the coming days!
  • Choose the right pregnancy bra for you: your breasts could start to leak around this time, and you’ll need a comfortable bra that fits just right for the remainder of your pregnancy and postpartum.

Sex at week 36 of pregnancy

It could be getting uncomfortable by now, but sex is still perfectly safe. In fact, you can keep on having sex right up until your due date. Try different positions to see what works for you! And if you’re not in the mood for sex, there are other ways to spend quality romantic time with your partner.

36 weeks pregnant checklist

When you’re 36 weeks pregnant, it’s normal to feel like there’s so much left to do! Here are some things you can try scheduling for this week: 

36 weeks 1 day pregnant

Stock up on maternity sanitary pads. You can expect some bleeding after delivery, regardless of whether you go through a vaginal birth or a C-section. Stock up on these items now and you’ll have one less thing to worry about once the baby arrives.

36 weeks 2 days pregnant

Decide how you want to announce the birth. Do you want to make a social media post? Send out postcards to your loved ones? Compile a video and email it? It can seem like a minor detail, but the birth announcement can be a sweet opportunity for your loved ones to see your new addition. 

36 weeks 3 days pregnant

Massage your perineum. This can reduce your chance of having an episiotomy by allowing your tissues to stretch progressively. If you can’t reach your perineum, ask your partner for help.

36 weeks 4 days pregnant

Go over your childbirth classes. If you had childbirth classes earlier in your pregnancy, they probably taught you breathing and relaxation techniques that can help you once labor begins. Review these tips to prepare for the big event.

36 weeks 5 days pregnant

Update your work colleagues on any pending projects. The baby could be coming any day soon. So if you’re still working, it’s a good time to update your colleagues on any pending projects so that your upcoming absence from work doesn’t disrupt things too much.

36 weeks 6 days pregnant

If you have other children, spend time together. Older siblings are usually thrilled to welcome a baby brother or sister, but they can also feel a twinge of jealousy sometimes. Use this time to play with them, cuddle, or read them stories.

36 weeks 7 days pregnant

Check your hospital bag — again! It might sound repetitive, but there’s no harm in making sure you’ve bought all the essentials to welcome your baby home. After all, it will be one less thing to worry about!

What to ask your doctor?

During your weekly appointment, try to discuss your preferred birth plan with your partner. Some centers will also let you check-in before you’re in labor, which can be a good way to get some of the paperwork out of the way before the big day. You can also ask your doctor for nutrition tips for these last few weeks, as well as for breastfeeding. Many pregnant women experience forgetfulness, so write down any questions you might have and bring them to your appointment.

Now that you’re on week 36 of your pregnancy, having your baby in your arms is a very real prospect. It’s normal to feel anxious as delivery approaches, but try to enjoy yourself during these last few days — after all, your body has nearly finished creating a wonderful, tiny human being!

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