Tommy's PregnancyHub

My premature baby's development in the womb-week 36

If you have been told you are at risk of a premature birth, you may be feeling anxious. Here’s some information about your baby’s development this week.

This information is for women who have been told that they are at risk of a premature birth

If you are not at risk of having a premature baby, we have information for you in our pregnancy calendar - our week-by-week guide to the stages of pregnancy.

Your baby’s development this week 

By 36 weeks, the digestive system is fully developed and most babies will be able to feed if they are born now. 

Your pregnancy symptoms

You will have an antenatal appointment this week to measure the size of your uterus, measure your blood pressure and test your urine. 

Your baby's position

They will also check the position of your baby. If they are not sure of your baby's position by 36 weeks, you’ll be offered an ultrasound scan.

If your baby has its bottom or feet facing downwards in the womb this is called the breech position. If your baby is breech, your healthcare professional will discuss the following options with you:

  • trying to turn your baby in the uterus into the head-first position by external cephalic version (ECV)
  • planned caesarean section
  • planned vaginal breech birth. 

Find out more about what happens if your baby is breech.

Other symptoms

If you are at risk of giving birth early, it’s important to take care of yourself. There are also some things you can do to try and reduce the risk of giving birth early.

Tell your midwife or doctor if you have any symptoms that you are worried about. Do not worry if you've talked about it before and don't be concerned about whether you're wasting anyone's time. This is your pregnancy and it's important to trust your own instincts if you feel something isn't right.

You can also call the Tommy’s midwives on 0800 014 7800 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm), or email us at [email protected]

Symptoms of early labour

Call your midwife or hospital maternity unit straight away if you think you are in early labour. It may be a false alarm, but it’s best to get checked out. Find out more about the symptoms of early labour

Your mental health

If you have been told that you are at increased risk of giving birth early, it’s important to try and reduce stress and take care of your emotional health. Find out more about coping with the idea of a premature birth.
 

What may happen if your baby is born this week

If you have any questions about your pregnancy or risk of premature birth please talk to your doctor or midwife.

You can also call the Tommy’s midwives on on 0800 014 7800 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm), or email us at [email protected]

If your baby was born this week, they would be classed as moderate to late preterm.  Babies born this week are less likely to have any severe problems associated with being born prematurely. They may not need to go to the neonatal unit for specialist care, but they will need to be watched more carefully than full-term babies. 

The risk of any breathing problems is much lower, but some babies may still need some support. Some babies may also need support if they are having difficulties feeding or develop jaundice, this is usually provided on the maternity ward.  

Your healthcare team will monitor your premature baby closely to make sure they receive the best possible care. 
 

NHS. You and your baby at 36 weeks pregnant. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/week-by-week/28-to-40-plus/36-weeks/ (Page last reviewed: 17 July 2018 Next review: 17 July 2021)

NHS. Your antenatal appointments. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/your-pregnancy-care/your-antenatal-appointments/ (Page last reviewed: 2 September 2019 Next review: 2 September 2022)

Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (2017) Breech baby at the end of pregnancy. https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/patient-information-leaflets/pregnancy/breech-baby-patient-information-leaflet.pd

Macdonald, Sue (2017) Mayes’ Midwifery. London, Elsevier Health Sciences UK

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. National Improving Value Scheme – Avoiding Term Admissions into Neonatal Units. https://www.ouh.nhs.uk/about/trust-board/2019/march/documents/TB2019.27-national-improving-value-scheme.pdf

BMJ Best Practice (2021) Premature newborn care. https://bestpractice.bmj.com/topics/en-gb/671/pdf/671/Premature%20newborn%20care.pdf