Week 36 of Your Pregnancy

Pregnancy Week by Week: Week 36

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

At 36 weeks pregnant, you're officially nine months along. Yes, you read that right. While you'll commonly hear references to the "nine months of pregnancy," in reality, full term is closer to 10 months (and sometimes a little more) when all is said and done. But you're in the home stretch now and as you continue prepping for baby's arrival, they're doing the same.

36 Weeks Pregnant Is How Many Months? 9 months

Which Trimester? Third trimester

How Many Weeks to Go? 4 weeks

Your Baby's Development at 36 Weeks

At 36 weeks, a baby is nearly 13 inches (32.9 centimeters) from the top of their head to the bottom of their buttocks (known as the crown-rump length), and baby's height is almost 18 1/2 inches (46.8 centimeters) from the top of their head to their heel (crown-heel length). This week, baby weighs approximately 6 pounds (2,745 grams).

At 36 weeks pregnant, your baby is about the length of a car sunshade
Verywell / Bailey Mariner 

Baby's Position

Chances are good that your baby is now in the head-down position, readying for their birthday. By 36 weeks, up to 93% of babies turn down, and after 37 weeks, 97% of babies are in the head-down position for birth.

Sleep Cycle

Baby's sleep-wake cycle is becoming more developed. At 36 weeks, your baby will continue to show active sleep but now has a distinct period of quiet sleep as well.

Eyelids

By 36 weeks, baby's eyelids have smooth margins and are almost fully formed.

Survival Outside the Womb

Babies born at 36 weeks are considered "late preterm" or "near term." They are very close to being ready for birth, but they are still maturing. After delivery, they may not need any help, or they may require a little assistance. Most babies at this stage do very well. The survival rate at 36 weeks is over 99%.

Explore a few of your baby's week 36 milestones in this interactive experience.

Stay Calm Mom: Episode 7

Watch all episodes of our Stay Calm Mom video series and follow along as our host Tiffany Small talks to a diverse group of women and top doctors to get real answers to the biggest pregnancy questions.

6:32

How to Prepare for Baby: What Do You Really Need?

Your Common Symptoms This Week

Your baby bump hasn't finished changing. Just when you feel like you've gotten used to its size and shape, it'll change again, and as you near labor one big change to look out for is baby "dropping" into your pelvis.

Lightening

If your belly suddenly looks different, don’t panic. When the baby shifts position and drops down into the pelvis it's called lightening. Once your baby settles down into the pelvis, you may feel like you finally have more room to breathe. Of course, the trade-off is more pressure in your pelvic area.

While dropping down is a way the baby prepares for birth, it doesn't necessarily mean that labor is upon you. First-time moms can experience this drop 2 to 4 weeks before childbirth. The second time around, however, it might be later and not until labor begins.

What Experts Say

“There’s no clear correlation between when your baby drops and when labor starts."

—Allison Hill, MD, OB/GYN

Pelvic Pressure

As you get further into your third trimester, your baby and uterus continue to get bigger and heavier. Plus, once baby drops, there could be a lot of pressure in your pelvis causing aches, pains, and feelings of heaviness. Some women describe the feeling as similar to squeezing a bowling ball between their legs.

What Experts Say

“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."

—Allison Hill, MD, OB/GYN

Self-Care Tips

While in earlier weeks, you may have experienced rib pain and shortness of breath, once baby drops, you'll likely be contending with some added pelvic pain.

Dealing With Pelvic Pain and Pressure

Pelvic pain is common at this late-stage of pregnancy. It affects 1 in 5 women. While you can’t really prevent these aches, you can do a few things to help alleviate your discomfort:

  • Wear a pregnancy pelvic support belt.
  • Ask your doctor if it is safe to take a warm bath.
  • Sit or lie down with your feet up.
  • Review the signs of labor so you can tell the difference between pressure and labor pain.

Most importantly, hang in there. You are near the end of pregnancy now. It won't be long before the source of the pressure is born and you feel relief.

Your Week 36 Checklist

Advice for Partners

While your pregnant 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.
  • Review 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).

At Your Doctor’s Office

You can expect the usual checks during this week's routine visit:

  • Weight check
  • Blood pressure check
  • Urine test
  • Swelling check
  • Fundal height measurement
  • Listening to baby's heartbeat
  • Discussion of symptoms
  • Answering your questions

Weight Gain

The recommended pregnancy weight gain for women who have a normal body mass index (BMI: 18.5–24.9) before pregnancy is 25 to 35 pounds.

By the third trimester, it is expected that you might gain roughly a pound a week. So, by week 36, you may have gained around 27 pounds from the start of your pregnancy. Of course, every pregnancy is different, so talk to your doctor about how much weight you have gained to be sure you're on the right track for your health.

Vaginal Exam

This week, your healthcare practitioner may begin vaginal or internal exams. Internal exams check your cervix for effacement and dilation as well as baby's position in the birth canal. Not all providers begin these exams at week 36—and not every pregnant woman wants them at this point in pregnancy. If you aren’t comfortable with this exam, you are within your rights to decline it, and there is no danger associated with skipping it.

What Experts Say

“In my experience, doing a cervical exam at each visit only causes frustration and is unnecessary.”

—Allison Hill, MD, OB/GYN

Screening Test

At one of your appointments between this week and 38 weeks, you will have a screening test for Group B strep (also known as GBS or beta strep).

For this test, your provider will take a sample of the bacteria in your vagina and rectum with a swab. The swab will be sent to a lab to be cultured and checked for Group B strep. See the special considerations below for more information.

Questions to Ask

Take the time at your doctor's office 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:

Upcoming Doctor’s Visits

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.

As you get closer to delivery, your provider may or may not order additional tests to check in on baby's well-being. These tests can include:

Special Considerations

With baby's birthday around the corner, your provider will want to ensure that you know when to head to the hospital for delivery, and their recommendation will depend in part on the results of your GBS test.

Chances of Childbirth This Week

Approximately 12% of babies are born prematurely or before 37 weeks. In a large study of over 34 million U.S. births between 2007 and 2015, about 6% of women delivered between 34 and 36 weeks.

Group B Strep

Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a type of bacteria. It is commonly found in both women and men, but not everyone has it. About 25% of expecting mothers (1 in every 4) carry it. In most healthy adults, it doesn't cause any symptoms and is not harmful. However, it can cause serious infection or even death in newborns.

Testing Positive

It can be scary to find out you have Group B strep but try not to worry. The treatment is simple: You'll simply receive antibiotics during labor. Remember that 25% of pregnant women are positive. And, while GBS is dangerous for babies, it is rare for a baby to get it. If you are positive, your provider will go over the plan with you, which will likely look something like this:

  • You can go about your daily life and plans as you wait for the arrival of your baby.
  • Once you go into labor or your water breaks, you'll likely be instructed to go right to the hospital.
  • The hospital staff should have your records, but you can remind them that you are positive for GBS.
  • You will have IV antibiotics during labor and you can have your baby vaginally if there aren't any other complications.

Without treatment, about 1% to 2% of babies born to moms who are positive develop a GBS infection. With treatment during labor, the number is much lower with only 1 in 4,000 babies developing an infection.

A Word From Verywell

You have just one more month (4 weeks) until the highly anticipated 40-week mark. Though babies are known for following their own schedule, it's safe to say that you probably only have a few more weeks of pregnancy to get through (or enjoy, depending on your perspective!).

As you manage late-pregnancy discomforts, try to enjoy those baby kicks, bumps, and rolls while you can—many women are surprised how much they miss them when baby's finally living in the outside world.

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