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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.

36 weeks infographic.

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.

Sources

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

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Last reviewed on June 29th, 2018. Next review date June 29th, 2021.

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Comments

  • By Kez (not verified) on 9 Jul 2018 - 18:23

    I'm 36 weeks pregnant and have constant lower dull backache and having braxsion hick is this early signs of labour also very snappy

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Jul 2018 - 12:48

    Hi Kez,
    If you are having constant lower backache and tightenings then I would suggest for you to call your maternity unity to be reviewed t check that you are not showing signs of premature labour. If you have any concerns about baby's movements, any bleeding then this is very important to call them straight away.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Kellie (not verified) on 9 Jul 2018 - 10:50

    Hi I am currently 36 weeks and I have started with pain on my previous c section scar, I have a lot of pressure round there also when I stand up and I have also began with lower back pain, sickness and just generally not feeling too well.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Jul 2018 - 14:31

    Hi Kellie
    It would be sensible to call your midwife or your maternity department. It may be that your symptoms are associated with early labour but without any details I would suggest that your concerns are assessed appropriately.

  • By kemmy (not verified) on 6 Jul 2018 - 19:05

    I'm 36 weeks pregnant once in awhile my first baby jumps on my belly. Though I dont feel any pain . I just want to know if pregnancy is safe.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Jul 2018 - 14:39

    It is important that your older child is taught to be careful with your tummy/belly. Talk to him or her about the new baby and teach them to be very gentle. You can use books and dolls in your conversations to help them to understand.
    If you are concerned, try to be very aware of the baby's movements which should help to reassure you that the new baby is safe and well. Take care.

  • By mercy ojo (not verified) on 17 May 2018 - 15:48

    i am35 weeks 3days i have catter then my ear block what can cause it pls

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 May 2018 - 16:08

    Hi Mercy, Thank you for your comment.

    It is difficult to understand what you are asking, could you please email us on [email protected] then we will be able to answer your questions in more detail. Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Annon (not verified) on 5 Apr 2018 - 09:46

    Hi, I'm 36 week and baby has been in the transverse position since 30 weeks. I have a grow scan scheduled next week as I currently have GD and they've told me I would be admitted if baby hasn't changed position due to to risk of cord prolapse. My question is when is the usually cut off point as to when I decision is made to opt for a c section or induction? Xx

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 6 Apr 2018 - 12:25

    Hi,
    There is not necessarily a cut off time, and ultimately it is your decision and you can change your mind at any time. There would be some practical considerations, such as enough time to book in for an elective C/S however you can always book for one and it be cancelled if you change your mind. At some point you should have an appointment with the consultant to talk through your options so you are able to make an informed decision about what you would like to do.
    Best wishes, Tommy's midwives

  • By Shalini mudumba (not verified) on 28 Nov 2017 - 09:44

    Hi.. im 36 weeks pregnant... im facing mucus plug discharge daily.. i don't know why its happing.. some one saying that I'm going into Labour with in a week.. I'm just confused.. pls let me know what happens when mucus plug discharge

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 28 Nov 2017 - 16:59

    Thank you for your message.
    You can lose the mucus plug up to 2 weeks before you go into labour-its a sign that the cervix is starting to open but is not necessarily a sign of labour by itself. If you start to have regular contractions, the waters break or there is bleeding, then you should contact your maternity unit as soon as possible for advice. I have attached 2 links with more information-

    https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/labour-birth/symptoms-labour
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/labour-signs-what-happens.aspx

    Hope this helps
    Take care
    Tommy' s Midwife

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 8 May 2017 - 12:00

    Thank you for your comment. If you are experiencing any pain or other symptoms such as bleeding, waters breaking, severe headaches, flashing lights before the eyes, labour pain, severe itching or any other concerns it is very important that you contact your maternity unit as soon as possible for an urgent check up
    I hope by now you have made contact with your unit and have been treated for your pain

    I have attached a link with some information about worrying symptoms in pregnancy
    https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/symptom-checker

    Please do not hesitate to contact us or call our helpline
    0800 0147 800 for advice

  • By sindy (not verified) on 6 May 2017 - 23:59

    am 36 weeks pregnant.i feel so mch pain on ma pregnançy

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