What to expect at 36 weeks pregnant. Everything you need to know about your body and your baby as you approach your final stages of pregnancy.
At 36 weeks pregnant, you are now in your ninth month of pregnancy and the end is in sight. Believe it or not, after 8 months of rapid development, by week 36 your baby’s growth is actually starting to slow down as you prepare to give birth.
By now you also might be feeling pretty done with this whole pregnancy thing. In your 9th month of pregnancy you may be finding it increasingly difficult to get up and about, as your bump reaches it’s biggest size and you develop a new pregnancy waddle.
However, on a lighter note (literally), as your baby ‘drops’ into the pelvic cavity before labour, the pressure from your uterus on your diaphragm lessens and you might feel a sense of lightening or relief.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about your baby and body at 36 weeks pregnant.
Your Baby at 36 Weeks Pregnant: Weight and Size
By week 36 weeks, your little bundle of joy has been growing in your tummy for 8 long months and is now around 52cm (18.7 inches) long and weighs approximately 2.7kg (5.8lbs). Your baby is now about the size of a papaya, or a bunch of kale.
As you reach your final month of pregnancy, your baby could, in theory, arrive at any minute. At 36 weeks your baby is said to be ‘late preterm’, which means while not quite at full term, the risks associated with an early delivery are significantly lower.
Your baby is gaining more fat on their arms and legs, and looking more and more like the tiny, chubby little human you’ll soon be bringing into the world. Their hearing will also drastically improve at this late stage in your pregnancy. It’s said that your baby may now recognise your voice, so you should be chatting and singing to your bump more than ever in the last few weeks.
However, you might be surprised to hear that your baby’s growth actually slows down in the last few weeks of your pregnancy. This is to give as best chance as possible to fit through the narrow birth canal and to save energy for the brith process.
Although almost ready to arrive, at 36 weeks baby’s bones are not yet fused together. Their bones and cartilage are also quite soft, this again is to help the journey through the birth canal. The bones will harden over time within your baby’s first years.
Your Body at 36 Weeks Pregnant: Bump Size and Physical Changes
Just as your baby’s growth is starting to slow down by this stage, at 36 weeks pregnant its unlikely there will be much change in the size of your baby bump. However, you may notice you’ve developed an interesting new walk – a pregnancy waddle. As your connective tissue softens and loosens (thanks to those pesky pregnancy hormones), your pelvic bones become more flexible, allowing room for your baby.
As well as giving you a strange new walk, the increased joint flexibility can also cause some pelvic pain. This, combined with you baby ‘dropping’ deeper into your pelvis can be particularly uncomfortable. To ease the pressure, try pelvic exercises, relaxing in a warm bath or a pregnancy massage.
On the plus side, as your baby ‘drops’ into the pelvic cavity before labour, the pressure from your uterus on your diaphragm lessens. This is known as ‘lightening’, and will make it easier for you to take deeper breaths and feel more comfortable after eating or moving around. However, not all babies ‘drop’ before labour starts.
36 Weeks Pregnant Symptoms
You may also notice a few new pregnancy symptoms within the last weeks of your pregnancy journey.
Itchy baby bump
As your belly hits it’s peak size in the third trimester, it may feel as though your stretched skin is reaching breaking point. This can cause soreness and itchiness, try a moisture rich cream or body butter to soothe.
This is a classic symptom of pregnancy and is something to see beauty and loveliness in. You will be more prone to stretch marks if you’re fair haired or fair skinned. Keep your weight gain gentle and gradual to minimise these marks as much as you can.
Constipation and Haemorrhoids
An uncomfortable reality of being 36 weeks pregnant is constipation. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for constipation to be accompanied by haemorrhoids. Try doing Kegels to improve circulation to the area. Gentle walks and herbal teas should also ease the constipation.
If you’re low on sleep, this combined with a surge in hormones is enough to make your vision blurry. This is a common symptom at 36 weeks pregnant. However, if it is worrying you due to being accompanied by headaches, rapid weight gain and swelling, consult with your GP. In some cases this could be a sign of preeclampsia.
A rise in oestrogen has caused rapid blood flow to your uterus and has stimulated the mucous membranes. At this late stage – with the risk of miscarriage being extremely low – it can be normal to see some blood (or pink/red/brown discharge) after sex or a vaginal examination. This is because your cervix may be starting to dilate, causing increase sensitivity and higher chance of bruising.
Colostrum is a pre-natal milk that will be a yellowish-cream in colour. You may notice a few drops leaking here and there. It’s not glamorous but it’s just your body preparing to breastfeed.
Pregnancy Brain and Clumsiness
Been a little absent-minded in recent weeks. This can be down to sleeplessness and the fact that pregnancy does actually reduce or bran cell volume! The clumsiness may also be down to your growing bump and difficulty with balance as it becomes harder to walk.
In the latter weeks of your pregnancy visible or varicose veins may also ache and itch on your legs.
Swollen Feet and Ankles (Edema) at 36 Weeks Pregnant
In your final weeks, your pregnancy swelling – known as Edema – will likely become more noticeable. Your feet and ankles are the main areas affected as your body retains more fluid, but you may also notice swelling in your face and hands. Keep your liquids up and drink lots of water to lower your sodium levels and flush out waste products.
For more information on development and milestones at every stage of your pregnancy, visit our pregnancy week by week page.