A woman has two smiles that an angel might envy, the smile that accepts a lover before words are uttered, and the smile that lights on the first born babe, and assures it of a mother's love. - Thomas C. Haliburton
Pregnancy is an exciting journey of nine months that culminates in the birth of a wonderful bundle of joy. However, especially for first time mothers, this period is always filled with anxiety and nervousness over whether or not everything is going fine and as planned or not. That's why, it is best to be prepared and well-informed about what happens during pregnancy in this week. The normal duration of pregnancy lasts anywhere between 37 to 42 weeks. Hence, expectant mothers that are 36 weeks pregnant are often anxious about what to expect next. Well, we have chalked down a list of few important things to be taken care of. Here we will go step by step in understanding the changes in the baby, your health, and the action plan.
Your Baby at 36 Weeks
As per the pregnancy development calendar, at 36 weeks, you have completed the full term of pregnancy. Hence, the baby has completed its full development and her arrival is expected anytime soon.
- Your little one weighs approximately six pounds and is about twenty inches in length, though she continues to gain weight during this week (approximately an ounce a day)! As of now, most of the bones in the baby's body will be of cartilage and will be quite soft. This aids in delivery and prevents injuries to both, the mother and the baby, during childbirth.
- Also, the baby will start accumulating fat deposits under her skin, this helps in regulating the baby's body temperature once she takes birth.
- The baby will maintain a head-down (vertex) or a butt-down (breech) position during this week, preparing for birth. Furthermore, the baby will start moving lower in the abdomen towards the pelvis, so as to attain proximity to the birth canal.
- The baby will have less room to kick or jab, so her movements may be slight and squirmy.
- You may notice your belly is slightly pulled downwards, due to the position of the baby in the womb. You will be able to lift your belly with both hands.
- Moreover, most of the baby's systems are fully functioning, like the blood circulation and the immune system. The development and growth of the brain is at a rapid pace now.
- Even the lungs are ready to plunge into action, and are producing a lubricant called surfactant. This fluid helps the baby breathe as soon as she takes birth.
- The gums and sucking muscles grow stronger during this week to help the baby feed and suckle after birth.
Things to Expect Regarding your Health
Of course, the next most obvious question is "What about me?". Here we go...
- Well, at 36 weeks, you can finally breathe easy, literally! This is because the baby tries and moves lower in the abdomen, which is known as lightening, so that the initial discomfort that was felt in the diaphragm region is not felt now. However, you may still have problems trying to eat a full meal because your little one is taking up so much of space! Smaller and frequent meals may help ease the discomfort.
- Lower back pain is probably the most discomforting thing you may have to deal with during this period. You may try a warm soak in the bathtub or some light pelvic exercises to ease the pain.
- You will also feel increased pressure in your lower abdomen, due to which you may feel the need to urinate frequently.
- Some women even complain of cramps, pain, and difficulty in walking. The pregnancy waddle, (what we can say is the penguin waddle), will be more prominent as you walk.
- The pregnancy hormones signal the body to soften and loosen the connective tissues, so as to prepare you for flexible birth.
- To add to the discomfort, women also complain of problems with sleeping in any position. Due to the pressure on the abdomen, sleeping sideways or on the back, is equally uncomfortable. However, it is said that sleeping with a pillow between the legs and behind the back does provide substantial relief.
- At this stage a woman may also experience frequent contractions. Consult with your doctor or mid-wife to know about the signs of labor.
- Other symptoms like constipation, tiredness, insomnia, heartburn, restlessness, exhaustion, weak bladder control, hemorrhoids, edema (swelling during pregnancy) may still be persistent.
- Your navel may become convex and look like popping-out. This happens mainly due to the expanding abdomen.
- The not-so-pleasing stretch marks, may get more irritating and itchy due to a huge belly on board.
- Vaginal discharge may increase in the 36th week of pregnancy. You can also expect the discharge to be thicker, or with brownish or reddish mucus. This happens as your cervix is dilating due to the sensitivity.
Pre-labor and Delivery - Things to Consider
This is the most important time, and needs to be dealt with extreme care; any stress and exertion can be harmful. So it is better to be informed about what is happening and what needs to be done. Here is a quick checklist.
- Your appointments with the healthcare provider or your mid-wife will be more frequent. Check-ups and antenatal visits will ensure the good health of both, the baby and you, during this time.
- As mentioned earlier, at the end of 36 weeks, the pregnancy has reached its full term. Hence, you must be mentally prepared for childbirth at any point now. So, be ready with all the phone numbers of the hospital and your gynecologist.
- Pack your hospital bags, make sure you have all that you need. Do not do any stressful activities at this stage.
- Tell your husband to be ready for your call! Keep all important telephone numbers at reach, and get familiar with the routes and the hospital so as to avoid any hassles and confusion.
- Please avoid air travel. The last thing you want is an untoward complication.
- Furthermore, practice Lamaze breathing and other pain relief techniques, which will help you deal with labor pain.
- Check with your doctor to ensure that your diet is not affected at this stage.
- In case you have selected a birth plan, make sure you follow the guidelines and also advise everybody involved about the same. A birth plan is ideally a guide of how you would want your delivery to be dealt with. Though things may not always go according to your plan, it can be conveyed to your doctor and everyone involved in your baby's birth.
- If you have children, sit and talk to them about what is going to happen and prepare their minds for welcoming the new baby. For working mums-to-be, this is the week that should engage your maternity leave.
Thus, now that you know how big your bundle of joy has become and how close it is to coming into this world, you've surely gotten the answer to all your questions. However, it is best to visit your gynecologist and get your condition assessed on a regular basis so as to prevent the chances of any complications during childbirth. As for your pregnancy, remember it is the most beautiful thing in the world! So prepare yourself mentally and it shall be a smooth journey. Take care.