36 weeks pregnant is another step towards the eventual birth of your baby, and by this point, you’ll probably need to start waddling around to stay comfortable. You’ll have to wait a few more weeks before you can give birth, so it’s time to try and prepare yourself for what’s to come.
How Big is the Baby?
For most women, this week will see their baby grow to around 18.7 inches in length. Its weight will also increase slightly to 5.8 pounds, although it can be slightly heavier sometimes too. Your baby isn’t ready to be born quite yet, but the growth will be slowing down now that it’s almost at full size.
How Has The Baby Developed?
Since growth is slowing down, your baby has time to focus on smaller parts of its development – the things it actually needs to survive outside of your body. It’ll also be going under a few unrelated changes to physically prepare itself for the birth.
First of all, your baby’s digestive system will start to adjust itself to be more suited to actually digesting milk, even though they’ve not had any yet. This will take a while, since it’s basically altering itself from scratch, but there’s almost no risks or problems that can occur here. There’s nothing you can do to speed it up, either, so don’t worry about it too much.
More importantly, their blood circulation should be fully-developed now. It might be hard to tell, even with an ultrasound scan, but this means that they’re one step closer to having all of the same important parts that a fully-grown human does! Less notable is the shedding of the vernix caseosa, a cheese-like varnish that’s used to protect its skin, which you might never even notice.
It’s also worth pointing out that your baby will flip around at some point, pointing in a head-down position (also known as the cephalic position) to get ready for the head-first birth. If it doesn’t happen normally, you can talk to your doctor about it – there are multiple ways that you can try to help the baby flip around.
How Will My Body Change?
At 36 weeks pregnant, you’ll need to expect some big side effects and changes as your body gets closer to the birth. Some of them can be fixed with outside means, but others are something you’ll just have to try and bear until they go away.
- Pelvic girdle pain is quite likely, since your baby will need to drop lower prior to the birth. This moves it further down inside your body, and can result in your pelvis dealing with a lot more physical pressure than usual. It can be lessened by taking a rest in a swimming pool, but otherwise, you’ll just have to try and deal with it for a while.
- Waddling is often one of the first problems you’ll notice. Not only is your baby bigger, but it’s moving lower in your body, meaning that you’ll have to move around with more of a waddle than a regular gait.
- Sleeping problems can also occur for a variety of reasons, from the size of your belly to the unexpected cramps and heartburn you might be suffering from. Unfortunately, you’ll just have to try and get rest whenever you can – there’s no way to solve all these problems without putting you or your baby in harm’s way.
- You might also notice more vaginal discharge than usual. However, it’s important to look for any that isn’t a normal color or consistency – it could be blood or amniotic fluid/your mucus plug. Blood is obviously an issue that warrants a doctor’s visit, and you should let them know if you lose your mucus plug, since it’s a sign that labor is on the way.
- Your hormones will change, too. This can cause a wide range of different issues, and they’ll change yet again once the birth happens. This can trigger anything from hair loss and depression to mood swings and incredible fatigue. However, none of it is really dangerous, and you can treat all of them quite easy (especially postpartum depression). Once your hormones manage to balance out, these issues should fade away too.
The Baby Drop
The “baby drop”, also known as “lightening” or “engaging”, can be a weird experience for first-time mothers. As mentioned earlier, your baby will shift to a lower point in your body to prepare for the birth, which can be a sign that labor can start in the next few weeks (or, if you’re unlucky, almost directly afterward).
The entire lightening process is strange, because it’s not always that easy to identify. Some women can point out the exact day they felt the changes, whereas others might enter labor without ever realizing that it happened.
Unfortunately, the change in the baby’s position can also cause even more changes. Aside from the waddling, which is caused by the extra pelvic pressure, you’ll also have to be aware of:
- Changes in breathing. This is technically a good thing, but it can throw you off if you’ve spent time getting used to breathing in a certain way, and you still won’t be fully back to normal until you give birth.
- An increased need to pee is very likely thanks to the pressure on your bladder and diaphragm. There’s nothing you can really do about this, even if you ask a doctor about it.
- Reduced heartburn is one of the benefits of the lightning, since the pressure isn’t on your stomach anymore. Just be aware that this might affect your appetite or stomach capacity too.
Dealing with Your Belly
A 36-week-pregnant belly can be a lot to carry around, and it’s going to make a difference to your overall weight, balance, and size. Thankfully, the growth is slowing, so you’ll stay around this size until the birth.
For most women, they’ll have gained a total of 25 to 35 pounds since the start of the pregnancy – roughly one pound a week – which will stick around after you give birth until you can work it off. On the plus side, you’ll gain about half as much per week from this point forward. This isn’t weight from the baby: it’s the natural weight you’ll have gained during the pregnancy instead. Your baby’s weight won’t be a problem as soon as it leaves your body, but this pregnancy fat isn’t going to go away for quite a while.
It’ll have been a while you were able to hide your belly, so you’ve probably moved on to more comfortable and relaxed clothes rather than trying to keep yourself concealed. Don’t worry about getting larger outfits unless you still feel like your clothes don’t fit – you’ll only be in this stage of pregnancy for a few more weeks, so there’s no need to build up an entire wardrobe for your big tummy. You’re probably not in much of a state to go out regularly anyway, so you can relax in baggy clothes and not care about looking your best every day.
If you were a fan of very tight clothes before the pregnancy started, it could be bad news for you: the extra weight you’ve gained means that you might not fit into them as well as you used to, at least not until you’re able to burn it off again. You’ll be tired after the birth, so don’t stress about this too much. It’ll take you a while to even feel like you’re able to stay awake for a full day, so save exercise for a more appropriate time.