Baby development at 36 weeks pregnant
At 36 weeks, you’re officially in your last month of pregnancy! In these last few weeks, your baby’s plumping up, getting in position to come down the birth canal and preparing to interact with you.
A typical baby at 36 weeks is between 17.5 inches and 19 inches, or about the size of a loaf of bread, and weighs approximately 5.8 pounds.
Your baby’s head may drop down into your pelvic cavity this week or soon after. The lightening, also known as dropping or engagement, is a sure sign that it won’t be long before your little one arrives.
The downy lanugo that covers your baby’s skin is being shed. The waxy vernix is also coming away, though you’ll likely see white residue in the creases of your newborn’s skin. Your baby’s face is now full and plump, the result of recent fat deposits.
Between now and week 38, your baby will have coordinated sucking and swallowing — a crucial skill that enables breastfeeding.
Week 36 pregnant belly
Your belly is getting close to its final size, if it’s not already there. Your total weight gain should be on track with what your doctor recommended, typically 25 to 35 pounds.
Common pregnancy symptoms at 36 weeks
Even if another month may seem like an eternity, you’re in the home stretch now! Remember to be kind to yourself and get plenty of sleep.
- Frequent urination: You’re likely to experience less pressure on your diaphragm and find it easier to eat and breathe. The tradeoff, however, is that your baby’s head is probably pressing on your bladder. You may need to urinate more often.
- Loss of bladder control: The muscles of your pelvic floor are relaxing. Good for them, right? What it means for you, most likely, is stress incontinence — a slight loss of bladder control when you cough or laugh. Break out the pads!
- Overheating: The so-called bun that’s in your so-called oven is now radiating heat and may be causing increased skin temperature for you. Wear lighter clothing and turn on the air conditioning!
- Constipation: Constipation, excessive intestinal gas, uncomfortable bloating and other digestive thrills are very common throughout pregnancy, and you may experience them more frequently as your enlarging uterus puts pressure on surrounding organs. These symptoms may be alleviated to some degree by exercise, increasing your water and dietary fiber intake and avoiding foods and beverages that cause gas. Consult your obstetrician if these conservative measures don’t help.
- Swelling: Your ankles and feet may be swollen. As long as it’s mild, it’s just another symptom, however irksome. If the swelling is severe or comes on suddenly, contact your obstetrician’s office. It could be a symptom of preeclampsia.
Pregnancy checklist at 36 weeks pregnant
Between this week and the end of week 37, your bump may move lower, making the fundal height you may have tracked from week to week a less reliable measurement. Instead, your obstetrician will determine your baby’s position by feeling your abdomen using four specific steps known as Leopold’s maneuvers. Keep your appointments as best as you can!
- Whooping cough vaccine. At this week’s prenatal visit, your obstetrician may recommend the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends pregnant women receive this vaccine between 27 and 36 weeks pregnant.
- Check-in on your mental health. If you find yourself anxious or depressed beyond what you’ve addressed prior to your pregnancy or beyond what you’re able to manage, share your fears with an empathetic person in a position to listen: a doula, your obstetrician, your partner or caregiver or a trusted relative or friend.
- Plan ahead. With just about a month to go, now is a good time to be reviewing your lists and working ahead on whatever you need to do before your baby arrives. Do you have your crib picked out? What about a baby monitor? Make those lists and check them twice. Not too long to go now!
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