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Pregnancy health centre

36 weeks pregnant

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks


How is your baby growing at 36 weeks?

Your baby is about 48cm long and weighs around 2.7kg (6lb), but remember this is only a guide – babies aren't all born the same size. Your baby should now be fully formed and ready to breathe air and digest breast milk. He or she will just be putting on weight until birth, and may gain about 30g (1oz) a day in fat.

From now until your baby is born you'll feel jabs of elbows and feet that may be uncomfortable, even painful. Your baby won't have much room to move around so he or she is unlikely to change from either a head-down or head-up (breech) position, but you will still feel movements and see them on the surface of your bump.

How are you changing in week 36?

If this is your first pregnancy the baby should have moved into the head-down position and may now be dropping into the birth canal – this is sometimes referred to as "engagement" or "lightening", terms that describe the baby being in a lower position in the womb. You may feel the baby's head pressing down on your pelvic floor, and if you had been short of breath, you may be able to breathe more easily as the baby moves away from your ribcage. You may also have fewer problems with indigestion. The muscles in your womb and tummy should be strong enough to support your baby. However, you may find walking more awkward and the pressure on your bladder may make it difficult to be far away from the toilet.

If you have previously had a baby, your baby will wait until closer to the date of birth before taking up the head-down position and engaging.

You should be experiencing Braxton-Hicks contractions more frequently.

What you need to know in week 36

You should have an antenatal appointment this week, in which your midwife or doctor will measure the size of your womb, check the position of your baby, measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein. You should also be given information about caring for and feeding your newborn baby, the options for giving your baby vitamin K at birth, screening tests for newborn babies, and what you may expect of your own health during and after labour, including postnatal depression.

You can use Braxton-Hicks contractions for practising the breathing techniques you have learnt in your antenatal classes. Shifting into another position can help alleviate the contractions.

Once you're home with a newborn, the last thing you'll want to do is run out to do some shopping, so it's a good idea to stock up on some basic essentials in advance ensuring that nappies, toilet paper and sanitary pads are on your list along with your usual store-cupboard basics. Think about meals you can prepare in advance, make them and freeze them – this way you won't need to do as much cooking in the first days at home with your new baby.

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