Tommy's PregnancyHub

36 weeks pregnant - all you need to know

Your baby weighs an impressive 6 pounds (2.7kg) - give or take - and is about the size of a large cabbage.
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What does my baby look like in week 36?

The amount of space in the womb is shrinking as your baby grows. However this does not prevent them from kicking as normal.

They continue to move and kick right up to labour and birth. Get in touch with your midwife or maternity unit if you feel any reduction in movements.

Your baby is getting ready to take their first gasp of air when they're born - their lungs are developed and ready to go. Until they take their first breath of air their lungs stay deflated and they get oxygen through the placenta. This is why there is no risk of drowning with a waterbirth.

If they were born now, your baby would be considered moderately premature. They would be able to suckle and their digestive system is ready for breast milk. After 37 weeks though they are considered to be at full term

Your pregnancy symptoms in week 36

Braxton Hicks

You may be having more Braxton Hicks - ‘practice’ contractions - as your womb gets ready for labour now.

They can be quite powerful towards the end of your pregnancy and it’s easy to mistake them for labour contractions.

The muscles of your womb are tightening and you may notice that your tummy becomes hard for a short period, then softens again. This shouldn’t cause you pain. If you notice that they’re becoming painful and regular, contact your labour ward.

Leaking urine

Don’t worry if you find yourself leaking a bit of wee when you cough or laugh. It’s totally normal and likely to be temporary because the pelvic floor muscles (around the bladder) relax slightly to prepare for labour.

Don’t forget to work on toning up your pelvic floor muscles. We cannot stress this enough - pelvic floor exercises are so good for you.

“The best thing I did was meditation. After a difficult first birth I found I could create my own positive space the second time I went into labour. I felt calm and together even when I was in pain.” Svenja, mum of two

Read 4 ways your body gets ready for labour to find out more

What to do in week 36

Go to sleep on your side if you're not already doing so

When you reach your third trimester, the advice is to go to sleep on your side because research has shown that going to sleep on your back is linked to an increased risk of stillbirth. This advice includes daytime napping and night sleeping. Read more about safe sleep positions in pregnancy.

Perineal massage

The perineum is the area between the vagina and the anus. Massaging this area in the weeks coming up to the birth can reduce the chances of having an episiotomy (cutting the perineum) during birth.

To massage the perineum, put one or two fingers into the vagina and massage downwards towards the perineum. Read more about massaging the perineum here.

Pain relief for labour and birth

Many women wonder how they will manage when labour gets going. Try not to worry. When it happens, every woman deals with it in her own way. Some find an inner calm, some swear and shout, and others want to have all the pain relief they can. All these reactions are fine and normal.

It's good to know your pain-relief options before the birth. If you feel in control, this will help you stay calm, which can mean an easier birth. If you are stressed and tense, your contractions may feel more painful and become less effective.

You may have very clear ideas about the pain relief you want - or don't want - to use. During your labour, though, your plans might change. Do what feels best for you at the time and don't feel bad if you want something that isn’t on your birth plan.

You may find that you are in early labour - called the 'latent phase' - for a long time before things really get going. Warm baths, back massages from your birth partner, paracetamol, a TENS machine and moving around may all help with early labour.

Find out here pros and cons of drug-free pain relief and of pain relief using drugs.

NHS Choices. You and your baby at 33–36 weeks pregnant. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pregnancy-weeks-33-34-35-36.aspx (Page last reviewed: 31/03/2017 Next review due: 31/03/2020).

Heazell AEP, Li M et al (2017) Association between maternal sleep practices and late stillbirth – findings from a stillbirth case-control study. BJOG 2017; https://doi.org/10.1111/1471-0528.14967.

Stacey T, Thompson JM et al (2011) Association between maternal sleep practices and risk of late stillbirth: a case-control study. BMJ. 2011 Jun 14;342:d3403. doi: 10.1136/bmj.d3403.

Gordon A1, Raynes-Greenow C et al (2015) Sleep position, fetal growth restriction, and late-pregnancy stillbirth: the Sydney stillbirth study. Obstet Gynecol. 2015 Feb;125(2):347-55. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000000627.

Lennart Nilsson (2009) A Child is Born, Jonathan Cape

Eason E, Labrecque M et al (2000) Preventing perineal trauma during childbirth: a systematic review, Obstetrics and Gynecology 3: 464–71: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10711565 

Beckmann MM, Garrett AJ (2006) Antenatal perineal massage for reducing perineal trauma, Cochrane Database of Sytematic Reviews: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=16437520

Review dates

Last reviewed: 29 June, 2018
Next review: 29 June, 2021