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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.


NHS Choices. You and your baby at 33–36 weeks pregnant. (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;

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: 

Beckmann MM, Garrett AJ (2006) Antenatal perineal massage for reducing perineal trauma, Cochrane Database of Sytematic Reviews:

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

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  • By Teeto (not verified) on 15 Oct 2018 - 23:16

    Had 2 previous CS but somehow wishes to experience vaginal delivery. I'm 36 weeks and unlike previous pregnancies I'm feeling Branxton Hics more frequently ( didn't feel nothing during previous ones & was postdated both times) and I generally feel better than I did at those other times.. What are my chances of an SVD even though my obstetrician thinks I'm crazy. Thanks for your prompt response

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Oct 2018 - 15:06

    Hi, I am sorry but without knowing your medical and pregnancy history it would be irresponsible of me to make comment in this scenario. There are so many factors to take into consideration. I would suggest that you discuss this in depth with your consultant and ask what the risks and benefits would be either way. The Royal college of Obs and Gynae publish their protocols which you may find useful if you want to read this:

  • By Portia (not verified) on 30 Sep 2018 - 09:14

    Hi I had a C-section with my first born nw I want Normal delivery I am 36 weeks pregnant how dangerous it is...m really scared my womb will repture even if doctor said de is only 1percent of repture

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 1 Oct 2018 - 14:46

    Yes this is quite correct. There is only a 1% risk of rupture. If you are labouring in hospital you will be monitored and any risks of rupture would be acted upon very quickly. Aiming for a normal delivery in this situation is usually the best option. Best wishes

  • By Ravanna (not verified) on 26 Sep 2018 - 08:03

    36 week's not sure if my waters are slowly breaking but think I head a pop before leaking a little and couldn't stop I have been feeling like a balloon has been trying to be popped for 3 days Nd like a big bulge in my vagina area also then read in my blue book under "liquor" it says active what does that mean too has my water started breaking slowly cos I could not stop peeing myself a little it felt like please advice asap

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 26 Sep 2018 - 11:24

    Hi Ravanna
    You need to go to your local maternity unit urgently, to be seen by a midwife and obstetric doctor who will examine you to check if your waters have broken or not.
    Please go as soon as you can and don't forget your maternity notes.
    All the best
    Tommy's Midwife

  • By deborah isaac (not verified) on 20 Sep 2018 - 17:48

    hi! am 35+ 6days pregnant and my baby is lying in breece position, can the baby still turn to the normal position again? am carrying my first pregnant.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 21 Sep 2018 - 16:02

    By Midwife @Tommys on 21 Sep 2018 - 16:01
    Hello Deborah, Yes, the baby could still turn but your midwife should refer you to the hospital for review and advice. You have option to turn the baby (ECV), deliver in the breech position or have a c section. We have information on our page

  • By Sandy (not verified) on 13 Sep 2018 - 09:12

    I only just rwcwnt found out i was pregnant, im 36 weeks and 2 days, i didnt have any morning sickness, my feet arent swollen and my stomach is still squishy, its not hard like other pregnant women, the "kicking/movement" of the baby felt like popcorn popping in my stomach i thought it was gas bubbles, ive done and eaten all the wrong things through out this pregnancy due to not knowing i am also a heavy smoker, im due on the 9th of october, i dont think my baby will make it, but the ultrasound that i did the nurse said that baby is normal and seems healthy, its measuring 29 when it should 36cm, im really scared i dont know what to do

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Sep 2018 - 12:15

    Hi Sandy, Thank you for your comment.
    We are sorry to hear that you are going through a very anxious time at the moment. You can't blame yourself for what you have eaten and done the wrong things in this pregnancy because you didn't know that you were pregnant. The important thing is doing the right things now going forward. You should be seen often at the hospital for serial growth scans to keep an eye on the baby and the blood flow through the cord to baby and also consultations with the Drs so that they can make a plan of care for you and your baby. The ultrasound is reassuring that baby have developed normally but they will want to keep a close eye on the growth of the baby as smaller babies can be the result of heavy smoking, but again your didn't know that you were pregnant so please don't be too hard on yourself, trying to give up smoking now is one of the best things you can do for your baby. You should have regular appointments at the hospital, if you haven't then we would urge you to call the hospital and make sure that this is arranged so that you are your baby can be monitored. Keep an eye on your baby's movements and if you have any concerns at all then please call the hospital to be seen. Hope this helps, if you need further advice then please call us on 0800 0147 800 Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Annie (not verified) on 16 Aug 2018 - 21:08

    am 36weeks 5days pregnant and having back pains and seems like having contractions please what does it mean

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 Aug 2018 - 10:36

    Hi Annie - Thank you for your message. It isn't uncommon to experiance some mild back pain in the third trimester. In regards to the contractions you are feeling they may be 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.

  • By abeerah (not verified) on 4 Aug 2018 - 16:28

    having contraction like pains every now and then ,, almost 6 in an hour... and painful movements,, dull ache in my back , i am 36+5 weeks pregnant ..

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 6 Aug 2018 - 10:30

    Hi, This could be the start of labour or it may settle down again. If you are concerned please ask your midwife or call your hospital for advice.

  • By Mary (not verified) on 20 Jul 2018 - 14:57

    Hi there I’m 36 weeks pregnant and have a lot of joint pain in my hands is this a normal sign?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 23 Jul 2018 - 14:47

    Hi Mary, Thank you for your question. I wonder if you have symptoms of Carpel tunnel syndrome. Pregnancy can increase the chance of this. There are some treatments you can try at home or you can see an osteopath or physiotherapist. See link for details
    Usually it resolves after pregnancy without treatment but see your GP if it gets worse or you need advice.

  • 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

    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-

    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

    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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