Week 36 of Your Pregnancy

A look at your body, your baby, and more

Welcome to week 36 of your pregnancy. While you aren’t yet considered full term, get ready: Thirteen percent of all pregnant women go into labor before 37 weeks.

week 36 pregnancy highlights
Illustration by Verywell

Your Trimester: Third trimester

Weeks to Go: 4

You This Week

By the close of week 36, your uterus will take up nearly all of the room inside of your abdomen, making it increasingly difficult to move with ease. “This is a period of rapid growth for your baby and extra weight gain for you, making the end of the third trimester a lot more uncomfortable,” says Allison Hill, M.D., a private practice OB-GYN in Los Angeles.

As the ligaments and joints in your pelvis loosen to prepare for baby’s exit, your hips can become unstable, upping your chances of trips and falls. At the same time, your baby is likely dropping lower in your pelvis, which can up pelvic pressure. (Some women describe the feeling as squeezing a bowling ball between their legs.)

While this discomfort is totally normal, if the pressure and pain are intense and accompanied by bleeding or fever, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Meanwhile, your cervix is elongated and contains thick mucus, also known as your mucus plug—but not for long. This plug began to form many months ago, when your fertilized egg implanted into the wall of your uterus, working to keep bacteria and viruses out of baby’s home. In the coming weeks, however, you will pass the plug, an indication that labor may be near.

You may notice the clear, jelly-like substance with red or darkened blood staining when you go to the bathroom, or you may not even realize that you’ve passed the plug at all.

Your Baby This Week

Your baby is gaining about an ounce every single day, bringing his or her total weight to about 5¾ to 6¾ pounds by the end of the week; he or she will likely stretch from 17½ to 19 inches long in the same period. Chances are good that your baby-to-be is in the head-down position, readying for his or her birthday.

At the same time, your baby is still busy practicing his or her breathing and swallowing skills, taking in more and more lanugo and vernix, as both are rapidly shedding from baby’s body. (Remember, lanugo is the fine hair that covers your baby skin, while vernix offers a thick and waxy protective coating.) The lanugo-vernix-amniotic fluid combo your baby is swallowing will form baby’s first bowel movement, called meconium.

At Your Doctor’s Office

Now that you’re 36 weeks pregnant, chances are you will be at your physician or midwife’s office once a week until delivery day. You can expect the as-usuals during these visits, but at the same time, your healthcare provider may ask you to start counting baby kicks, if you haven’t already. Note, however, that movements from here on out may be less frequent or not as obvious as they once were. You should feel the baby move every couple of hours, just less forcefully as he or she is running out of room for his or her usual gymnastics.

Your healthcare practitioner may also want to do an internal exam to see if you are dilated (when the cervix begins to open) and/or experiencing cervical effacement (thinning of the cervix). Not all practitioners do this—and not every pregnant woman wants this. If you aren’t comfortable with this exam, you are within your rights to decline it, and there is no danger of doing so.

Special Considerations

If your physician or midwife has told you that your baby is looking big, there’s no need to panic. In fact, even though one-third of women who were part of 2015 study in Maternal and Child Health Journal were told that their baby might be quite large near the end of the third trimester, only one in five of them actually birthed a baby over 8 pounds, 13 ounces—the usual threshold for labeling a baby “large.” In short: Determining if a baby is, in fact, “too large” is imprecise at best.

If your healthcare provider suspects your baby may weigh more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces, that’s generally no reason to induce labor or schedule a Cesarean section, according to American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. However, a C-section may be a safer option than a vaginal delivery if a baby is suspected to weigh between roughly 9 and 11 pounds, depending on a mother's glucose intolerance. Your age, previous delivery history (if any), and whether or not you have gestational diabetes will also be considered.

Upcoming Doctor’s Visits

You’ll be back to see your healthcare provider next week, and that’s the perfect time to go over all the signs that indicate you may be in labor. Bring your notebook and ask as many questions as you like, such as:

  • Can I eat and drink during labor?
  • What can I do at home to speed up labor once I’ve begun?
  • At what point do you recommend I go to the birthing center or hospital?
  • What if I show up too early? Will you send me home?
  • What happens if my water breaks at home?

Taking Care

Pelvic pain is common at this late-stage of pregnancy. While you can’t really prevent these aches, you can do a few things to alleviate your discomfort; wearing a pelvic support belt or binder, for example, can take some of the pressure off of your groin area. Also, taking warm baths, using a hot water bottle, and enjoying a prenatal massage all work to soothe muscles.

For Partners

While your partner is gearing up to ask her healthcare provider any lingering labor questions, it behooves you to do the same. Here are some points you may want to cover with the doctor or midwife and/or your partner:

  • Review how to count contractions; you may also consider downloading an app specifically designed to help you do this when everything begins.
  • Go over how long each stage of labor usually lasts.
  • Re-read the birth plan so you can be your partner’s advocate.
  • Brainstorm various types of distractions and support for different stages of labor (and realize that, though they may be useful to some, your partner may or may not be in the mood for them in the moment).

Verywell Checklist

  • Continue taking prenatal vitamins.
  • Continue drinking about eight to 12 glasses of water a day.
  • Continue doing your Kegel exercises daily.
  • Continue doing your daily perineal massages.
  • Gather any lingering labor and delivery questions for your healthcare provider.

Last Week: Week 35

Coming Up: Week 37

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View Article Sources
  • Allison Hill, M.D. Email communication. October, November 2017.
  • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Early Deliveries Without Medical Indications: Just Say Nohttps://www.acog.org/About-ACOG/News-Room/News-Releases/2013/Early-Deliveries-Without-Medical-Indications
  • Barth WH Jr. Practice Bulletin No. 173: Fetal Macrosomia. Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Nov;128(5):e195-e209. https://insights.ovid.com/pubmed?pmid=27776071
  • Erika R. Cheng, PhD, MPA; Eugene R. Declercq, PhD; Candice Belanoff, ScD, MPH. Labor and Delivery Experiences of Mothers with Suspected Large Babies. Matern Child Health J. 2015 Dec; 19(12): 2578–2586. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4644447
  • National Women's Health Resource Center. Healthywomen.org. Pregnancy & Parenting Second Trimester of Pregnancy: 36 Weeks Pregnant.
    http://www.healthywomen.org/content/article/36-weeks-pregnant-symptoms-and-signs