You’re getting close now. Only 4 more weeks to go before your due date as your baby continues to prepare every day for extra-uterine life. You may have a sense of the calm before the storm at 36 weeks pregnant. You are getting closer each day to holding your baby, but birth is still not so close that it is imminent. For many mothers this is a time of pondering and trying to enjoy the last few weeks of their pregnancy. You may feel a renewed sense of wonder and respect for your body and how it just knows what to do. Or, you may just be feeling as if you’re over the whole pregnancy deal and want the last few weeks to just disappear.
Where’s the mop and bucket?
Don’t be surprised if you wake up one morning and it’s as if blinkers have been taken off your eyes. There’s dust and dirt everywhere and you won’t understand how it’s not been obvious to you before now. Welcome to the nesting phase. If you’ve been feeling a little jaded, you’ll be amazed by a renewed sense of energy around now. You want to organise and sort, go through boxes and toss stuff out. After the baby is born, you’ll be glad of having done a big cleanup. In the first few weeks after their birth you’ll find it impossible to invest time into housework. Bare in mind though, some pregnant women get a little frenzied and place a lot of pressure on themselves and their partner. Try to focus on one job at a time and finish it before you move onto the next one. If family or friends make offers of helping – then say yes. This can be a time of real connection and building excitement.
But it’s not my fault!
There is some biological explanation for mothers in late pregnancy to feel they need to organise their “nest” so, give into it. Mother Nature can be very hard to resist.
Your physical changes this week
- Sleeping may seem like a far off dream this week. It’s become impossible to lie on your tummy and lying on your back is not advisable, so sleeping on your side becomes the only option. The problem is, you’ve only got two sides to alternate from so you may end up feeling a bit achy around your hips and thighs. Surround yourself with comfortable, supportive pillows in your bed and consider getting a padded under blanket to use under your bottom sheet. They actually work.
- Get used to having to go to the toilet a few times a night. Your uterus is becoming so big that your bladder doesn’t need to fill with much urine to make you feel you simply have to go. Avoid changing too quickly from a lying position to being upright and let your blood pressure adjust. Leave the bathroom light on at night to guide your way. At 36 weeks pregnant clumsiness is a fact of life and you need to make sure you minimise your risks of stumbling over something in the dark.
- Your midwife or doctor will be encouraging you to attend antenatal appointments weekly from now until you have the baby. The usual range of checks will be made including your urine, blood pressure, weight, and uterine size. Your fundal height will be measured to see if it matches with your dates. If there is any discrepancy, you may be sent for an ultrasound to check the size of the baby, the amount of amniotic fluid and the placental size.
- In those quieter moments of your day, pull your top up and look at the movement going on in your tummy. You’ll be able to see the outline of a little foot, an elbow or a knee. If you gently poke with your fingers in response to those movements, you’ll find your baby prods back. Get your partner involved in these little moments so he feels involved in your pregnancy too. If he talks to the baby though your abdominal wall, the baby is likely to move in response to his voice.
- Your pelvic bones will be separating and loosening in these last few weeks which can mean you feel sore and aching. You’ll find yourself subconsciously placing your hands on your lower back, your tummy and your hips and even grimacing. You’ll be giving other pregnant women understanding looks and know just what they are going through. Warm showers or baths, massage, rest and just being kind to yourself are all good ways to get through these final weeks.
- If your baby’s head engages in your pelvis this week, you’ll find you’re able to breathe more easily. Your lungs and diaphragm can actually expand a little more and move into their normal positions. Well, almost.
Your emotional changes this week
- You are getting seriously close to having your baby now, but it may seem your due date will never arrive. The ninth month of pregnancy can seem endless, particularly for women who are genuinely uncomfortable and who’ve simply had enough of being pregnant.
- If you’ve got older children you may feel secretly pleased you’ve still got a few weeks to go. You could still have a lot to get organised and have counted on doing a few jobs which need your attention. It’s amazing what can be achieved when we have a deadline to work towards. Just remember though, you don’t have to do everything on your own. Delegate chores to the older kids and get your partner busy. Remember, most men like to be given specifics when it comes to doing tasks so consider making a list of what you both need to achieve in the final weeks.
- Your maternity leave could start this week which means you having to make a mental shift away from work. This may come as an absolute relief or cause you to feel sad, especially if you’ve enjoyed your working life and found it fulfilling. Becoming a parent means a change from how we view ourselves and where we now fit in with the world. Give yourself time to adjust.
Your baby’s changes this week
- Your baby weighs around 2.7 kilograms this week and measures about 51 centimetres long. If he/she were born at 36 weeks, he/she would probably not need any special care and would be able to breath for him/herself. There is a possibility that he/she could have some small issues with feeding and sucking though.
- Your baby’s bowel is filled with meconium, the sticky, black tarry substance which will form its first bowel motion. Some babies will pass meconium while they are still in the uterus and this can be a sign that they are distressed. If this happens, the amniotic fluid can become stained and changes from being clear and watery to having a greenish tinge. If your waters break and you notice this, it is important you are checked by your midwife or doctor quickly.
- Your baby’s skull is a complex structure and the bones within it will not fuse until it is older. During birth, it is important that a baby’s skull can mold and adapt to the shape of the mother’s birth canal. If this is your first pregnancy, your baby’s head may start engaging or dropping into your pelvis this week.
- At 36 weeks your baby is getting into position for delivery. There isn’t enough room now for it to do tumble turns and its movements are fairly restricted. If your baby is in a position other than head down, you will need to discuss delivery options with your midwife or doctor.
Tips for Week 36
- Don’t forget to brush! Premature labour can be brought on by a gum infection so it’s important that you brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss and have regular checks with your dentist. If you haven’t seen a dentist during your pregnancy so far, make an appointment for this week. The bacteria which cause tooth decay are highly contagious and mothers can easily transfer their own oral bacteria via their saliva and breath to their baby’s sterile mouth.
- It’s afternoon naptime, but not for longer than an hour or so. Too much sleep in the afternoons can impact on nighttime insomnia so be careful about how much time you spend resting your weary head after lunch.