Where's the mop and bucket?
But it's not my fault!
Your physical changes this week
Get used to having to go to the bathroom 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 like you 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 minimize your risks of stumbling over something in the dark.
Your maternity care provider will schedule your prenatal appointments weekly from now until you have the baby. The usual checks include 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 belly. 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 in on these little moments so they feel involved. If they talk to the baby through your abdominal wall, the baby is likely to move in response to their voice.
Your pelvic bones will be separating and loosening in these last few weeks which can mean you feel sore and achy. 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
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 organized 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 to help. Consider giving your partner lists of specific jobs which need doing.
Your maternity leave could start this week which means making 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's bowel is filled with meconium, the sticky, black tarry substance which will form its first bowel movement. 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 pregnancy care provider 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 provider.
Hints for the week
It's afternoon nap time, but not for longer than an hour or so. Too much sleep in the afternoons can impact nighttime insomnia so be careful about how much time you spend resting your weary head after lunch.
Check https://www.health4mom.org/buying-right-crib-baby/ for evidence-based, excellent information on buying and preparing your baby’s crib. Follow these guidelines on safe sleeping for babies and do what you can to minimize the risks of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Being informed is important!
Week 37 comes next.
For more information see Pregnancy Week by Week.
The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.