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Welcome to the 36th week of your pregnancy! This week, you are entering the ninth month of pregnancy. “Just four more weeks to go” is what you can tell yourself this week to cope with the stress of the final trimester of pregnancy.

If you are feeling nervous about your approaching delivery date, remember that being a little anxious about the whole delivery process is absolutely normal. Talk to your doctor, and women in the family who have already been through this experience if it helps to alleviate your nervousness—this could also help you prepare yourself well.

By the 36th week, your regular visits to the doctor for pregnancy check-ups might have increased in frequency. Your mode of delivery and the hospital where you are going to deliver must have been planned already. Do not forget to baby proof your home if you have not done that by now.

The 36th week is a time to be watchful, as some undesirable complications might arise this week. Being aware of all such situations and following each and every piece of advice that your doctor might have given you could go a long way towards securing your safety as well as your baby's.

Your precious pregnancy must be the most important thing in your life right now. Household work and your job are also important but you must take adequate rest as recommended by your doctor and not exert yourself too much. You must take care of what and how much you are eating currently as recommended by your dietician.

The aim of this article is to make you aware about the development of your baby, the various changes that may take place in your own body and the complications that may occur in the 36th week of pregnancy.

  1. Body changes in 36th week of pregnancy
  2. Baby development in 36th week of pregnancy
  3. Symptoms in 36th week of pregnancy
  4. Pregnancy tips for 36th week
  5. Complications in the 36th week of pregnancy

Your body is expected to undergo some important changes during this week. These may include the following:

  • Nesting: It is defined as an unusual rush of energy with a powerful need to organize, clean and decorate. In moderation, it might help you pass this difficult time and keep your mind occupied while waiting for your delivery. Some pregnant women might use this surge to their advantage by preparing clothes for the baby, putting them in drawers and organising the sleeping place for their babies. Make sure that you do not overdo it or exert yourself too much.
  • Cervix dilating: Your cervix (part of the female reproductive system that connects the uterus and the vagina) may dilate slightly or open up. This dilation means that your body is getting ready for your delivery. This process may sometimes be associated with sharp pain. The cervix of many females might start dilating at this point, whereas in some females, this can be observed on the day of delivery.
  • Changes in joints and tissues: Your joints and body tissues are expected to soften to prepare your body for delivery.
  • Braxton-Hicks contractions: They are also called false contractions. They are defined as contractions during pregnancy that are of low intensity, which do not persist and which reduce on moving around. Your doctor might make you aware of these contractions and how to differentiate them from true contractions.
  • Excessive urination or urinary leak: Your pregnant uterus can exert a considerable amount of pressure on your urinary bladder. This is a normal occurrence.
  • Leg or ankle swelling: There might be some amount of late-pregnancy swelling in feet, legs or ankles. Make sure to get your blood pressure checked regularly if you have swelling, especially in the legs.
    Some women may also experience pregnancy linked swelling in other parts of the body like the face or hands. 
  • Balancing issues: As the body mass increases considerably during pregnancy, balancing your own body becomes a difficult task. Hence, always wear shoes with flat soles (even at work) and climb the stairs using some support. 
  • Headaches: One of the most common consequences of dehydration is a headache. Studies suggest that most females don't adequately hydrate themselves to meet the target of fluid consumption. Therefore, your doctor might recommend drinking 3-3.5 litres of water each day. 
  • Mood swings: Pregnancy mood swings may increase in severity and duration during the 36th week.

Amazing news! Your baby will be considered full-term by the end of 36 weeks of pregnancy. Your baby will continue to grow even after this week is over but the end of week 36 marks an important milestone in pregnancy.

Your baby must be weighing around 2.75 kilograms by now. His or her top to toe length would be around 48 centimetres currently. The overall measurements are expected to increase till the delivery.

The following changes in the baby’s body can be observed in the 36th week of pregnancy: 

  • The baby successfully fills up most of his or her skin, which was previously loose and wrinkled
  • Your baby’s powerful muscles that are responsible for sucking are fully developed by now, resulting in a perfectly rounded face
  • His or her bones are pretty hard by now, barring the skull that still remains soft and pliable to aid in the birthing process
  • Formation of meconium: Your baby is expected to shed most of his or her insulating hair (lanugo) and white waxy layer (vernix caseosa) protecting his or her skin. The baby will end up swallowing most of these substances along with some other secretions, resulting in the formation of meconium (black coloured). Meconium is expected to form the major part of the baby’s first bowel movement.
  • Reduction of amniotic fluid: The amniotic fluid is the fluid in the amniotic sac that aids in the nourishment and sufficient cushioning of the baby. Amniotic fluid is at its peak at the start of the 36th week (1 quart). This quantity of amniotic fluid is expected to reduce till the delivery of your baby.
  • Expect an increase in the speed of development of your baby’s brain and nervous system
  • Normally, in primigravida females (first pregnancy), the baby takes the head-down (vertex) position in the pelvis—this is the ideal birth position. This position aids in delivery as the head is the largest part of the body. The baby’s position is the placement of the baby inside the uterus. By the 36th week, the baby would move to the head-down position, ready for delivery. Some other positions can include breech (feet first position) and transverse (sideways).

You are in your final month of pregnancy. There are some symptoms that you can develop this week, and some which may continue from the last few weeks. You must ask your doctor to identify these problems and provide you with solutions to quickly resolve these symptoms. 

The following symptoms might be observed in the 36th week of pregnancy : 

  • Sciatic nerve pain: Studies suggest that most women experience sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy to some extent. This can be easily explained by the fact that your pregnant uterus applies a significant amount of pressure on the sciatic nerve, resulting in back pain, groin pain and leg pain. By this time, sciatic nerve pain should usually resolve as the baby descends into the pelvic area. If it hasn't resolved yet, you can use a warm compress over the painful region. Your doctor might even prescribe some simple analgesics (painkillers) such as paracetamol
  • Round ligament pain: If you are experiencing pain in the groin or lower abdomen pain during pregnancy this week, it might be due to round ligament pain. This pain usually feels like a stabbing pain. The pain can be located on one side of the body (unilateral) or might be widespread (diffuse). Alarming signs include radiating pain and when it becomes unbearable. If you experience any of these alarming signs, do inform your doctor. 
  • Varicose veins: Pregnancy-linked varicose veins are not uncommon in the 36th week of pregnancy. Varicose veins occur due to the inflammation and pinching of the inferior vena cava (a major blood vessel that carries deoxygenated blood from the limbs and other peripheries back to the heart). This phenomenon results in the development of a large number of blue venous clusters that are painful and hard. Most common sites include the lower limbs, anal region and the vulva.
  • Fatigue: It is the most common complaint that women have during pregnancy. It takes place due to increase in the demand for hydration and nourishment. Fatigue during pregnancy can affect your day to day activities and interfere with your work. You must understand that this is only temporary and it would resolve soon after pregnancy. 
  • Sleep problems:  Some pregnant females might have to tolerate sleeping problems during pregnancy. This may take place due to discomfort, generalised body pain, indigestion during pregnancy and increased frequency of micturition (urination). Hormonal imbalance may also result in sleep issues. If disturbed sleep is accompanied by vivid dreams, then you can discuss this with your family and friends and seek emotional and mental support at home or from a psychologist. You should ensure that you sleep for around 12 hours every day. This target can easily be achieved by sleeping in the afternoon for about two to three hours every day along with your daily sleep at night, 
  • Digestive issues: Almost all pregnant females might experience unwanted digestive issues such as bloating, belching and acid reflux. In case these symptoms start affecting your daily life, you must inform your doctor about this so that he/she can prescribe some form of antacids or proton pump inhibitors to relieve these symptoms. Please do not self-medicate, as only a doctor would be able to advise safe and effective medicines keeping your current lifestage in mind.

Now that you have reached the 36th week of your pregnancy, you must make sure you tick all the items off on the following checklist : 

  • You should understand all the three stages of labour in good detail so that you are mentally prepared for giving birth.
  • If you have an older child, make sure that they know about the arrival of their new sibling. Try not to neglect them at any point throughout the pregnancy or after it. Arrange for someone to take care of them while you will be at the hospital for your delivery. 
  • Make sure that you have organised a safe sleeping area for your baby that is in alignment with the most recent and updated guidelines to avoid newborn death due to sudden infant death syndrome
  • Arrange essential supplies such as food, pantry staples, toiletries and diapers for the newborn.
  • Pack your delivery kit which should consist of a change of clothes, a charger, your insurance card in case you need one and all medical records of your current pregnancy.

The following complications may be seen during the 36th week of pregnancy: 

  • Stillbirth: After the 20th week of gestation, foetal death is termed as a stillbirth, whereas before the 20th week of pregnancy, it is called a miscarriage. A late stillbirth is basically defined as stillbirth occurring between the 28th and 36th week. Females may present with bleeding from their vagina, severe abdominal pains and excessive contractions that should alarm any clinician. If diagnosed early, a stillbirth may be prevented.
  • Hypertensive diseases: Pregnant females may develop high blood pressure even in the final month of pregnancy. High blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy is termed gestational hypertension. Hypertension associated with proteinuria (excretion of proteins in the urine) could be a sign of pre-eclampsia. Sometimes patients of pre-eclampsia may experience seizures, this is called eclampsia.
  • Subchorionic haemorrhage: When the placenta separates partially from its original site of attachment inside the uterus, it may cause subchorionic haemorrhage. These patients can often present with severe bleeding from their vagina.
  • Infections: All clinicians should be on the lookout for infections in any sick pregnant female. The reason behind this is that pregnancy is considered to be a state of low immunity. Various infective agents might affect pregnant females. These include bacteria such as Gardnerella vaginalis (leading to bacterial vaginosis) and E. coli (leading to urinary tract infections). Sometimes, on exposure females might develop viral infections like genital herpes and hepatitis infections too.
  • Placenta previa: Placenta previa is defined as the condition of having a low-lying placenta that covers the cervix completely or partially. For most pregnant females who are diagnosed with placenta previa early on in the pregnancy, the condition resolves spontaneously (as the placenta migrate upwards as the pregnancy progresses). In cases where this does not happen, your doctor might recommend conducting ultrasound scans every two weeks and opting for a C-section as a normal delivery can result in too much bleeding.
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