Your baby is now the size of a Crenshaw melon, measuring between eighteen and a half (18.5) and twenty and a half (20.5) inches from head to heel and weighing about six (6) pounds. You are in your ninth month of pregnancy.
By week 36 of pregnancy, your baby is almost fully developed and mature. From now and until birth, your baby will continue to gain about an ounce a day and may grow a little bit in height. Most babies measure between nineteen and twenty-one inches in length at birth. Your baby’s lanugo, downy fine body hair, is gone, and the vernix also begins to disappear. Babies born earlier tend to be covered in more vernix while babies born later tend to have little or none. Your baby practices the skills necessary for survival outside the womb including sucking, swallowing, and breathing. Meconium, which is a black mixture that will be your baby’s first bowel movement, continues to form in your baby’s intestines.
Most babies have moved into the head down position with the buttocks towards your ribs by week 36 of pregnancy. You may even be able to feel that cute little bum pressing into your lungs. Your baby may drop down into your pelvis in preparation for birth any time between now and labor, which may make breathing a lot easier for you. If your baby is still stubbornly sitting up, your health care provider may suggest an external cephalic version, which is a procedure in which a medical professional turns your baby by manipulating him or her from outside of your belly. Many stubborn babies also spontaneously turn into the head down position prior to labor without an external coaxing, so try not to worry if your baby is still breech by week 36 of pregnancy.
Once your baby drops sometime during or after week 36 of pregnancy, you may find yourself with a renewed sense of excitement. Lightening, which is the process in which the baby moves into the pelvis, can bring some relief to heartburn and can make breathing easier. Unfortunately, however, lightening can also cause increased pressure in the lower abdomen including increased vaginal pressure and can make walking even more difficult. Your uterus extends well past your belly button and into your ribs. As the labor and birth near, you may find yourself suffering from increased backaches, constipation, and discomfort in your buttocks and pelvis. You may also notice more frequent Braxton Hicks contractions as your body prepares to give birth. If you notice severe contractions similar to menstrual cramps, any vaginal bleeding, leaking amniotic fluid, fever, a severe or persistent headache, or vision changes, contact your health care provider immediately because you may be in labor. You may also find yourself engaging in nesting behavior around week 36 of pregnancy. If you feel the sudden urge to cook or clean, your body is just helping you get ready for the impending birth of your baby.
During week 36 of pregnancy, you will likely continue seeing your health care provider for a checkup each week. Until your baby drops, you may notice increased heartburn and indigestion. Your abdomen may be dry and itchy as the skin stretches over your protruding belly for which lotion, oil, and cocoa butter may bring some relief. If you have red, itchy bumps or welts on your abdomen, thighs, or buttocks, you may have pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPP or PUPPP), which affects about 1% of pregnant women. PUPP is annoying but harmless and should disappear after you give birth. Other symptoms during week 36 of pregnancy include odd dreams, nervousness or anxiety, forgetfulness, clumsiness, stretch marks, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, mild swelling of the feet and ankles, bloating, constipation, flatulence, increased vaginal discharge (leukorrhea), more frequent urination, loose joints, difficulty sleeping, and fatigue.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not meant to replace the professional medical advice of your health care provider.
36 weeks pregnant: http://www.babyzone.com/pregnancy-week-by-week/36-weeks-pregnant_70904
Curtis, Glade B. & Judith Schuler. 2011. Your pregnancy week by week. 7th edn. Philadelphia: Running Press.
Skin changes during pregnancy: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/skinchanges.html
Stone, Joanne & Keith Eddleman, eds. 2003. The pregnancy bible: Your complete guide to pregnancy and early parenthood. Willowdale, Ontario: Firefly Books.
Your pregnancy: 36 weeks: http://www.babycenter.com/6_your-pregnancy-36-weeks_1125.bc
Your pregnancy week by week: Weeks 35-40: http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/your-pregnancy-week-by-week-weeks-35-40
Ultrasound Sound of 36 Week Fetus: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fetus_Penis_Erection.jpg
Baby Bump with PUPP at 36 Weeks: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PUPPP_2007-05-06_left.jpg
Crenshaw Melons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Melons_in_Freiburg_-_DSC06501.jpg