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36 weeks pregnant


Baby at 36 weeks pregnantYour baby at 36 weeks

At 36 weeks your baby will be born with her own personality. How she behaves, how calm or unsettled she is, are already being determined.

A study of heart rate and movements in 31 foetuses six times before they were born and twice afterwards found a link between active babies in the womb being more irritable babies.

Those with irregular sleep/wake patterns in the womb slept more poorly as young infants. And foetuses with high heart rates become unpredictable, inactive babies.

The researchers suggested women's hormones influence their baby's personalities and suggested women did not work until the day they gave birth, to give them and their baby a stress-free period. The researchers suggested that you talk to your baby calmly and reassuringly.

But they said it is not helpful to poke them or wake them up to stimulate them with a Shakespeare sonnet, this may interfere with their normal development. (And mothers who are pushy prenatally are just as embarrassing.)

  • The next step for your baby is for her head to engage. This means it drops into the pelvis on route to the birth canal. Engagement can occur any time now. If you have had a baby already it tends to be later as the muscles are a bit slacker and the baby bobs about a bit longer.

    If you have twins only one baby can engage at a time - the pelvis does not have room for two at a time - so after you have given birth to one the other will come down and engage. In second or third pregnancies, the head may not engage until immediately before you go into labour.  
  • This is the last week before your baby is considered really ready for birth, so from next week she will be considered term and not premature if she's born.
  • At 36 weeks she will be sleeping more, the research says anything between 60% and 80% of the time. But between napping she is alert as well as awake, getting ready for what's out there. 

Your body at 36 weeks pregnant

  • Your body may have really changed if your baby's head has engaged, as your bump will almost vanish overnight. People will say you have dropped. Your body shape may be very different but this does not mean you are about to go into labour. 
  • Your heartburn should go. The price is the lower part of your back can ache as you will, without meaning to, tilt back to compensate for the centre of gravity moving forward. Engagement can improve digestion but makes urinary symptoms worse as a baby's head on your bladder is a cue for visiting the toilet frequently. 
  • Your breathing will be easier now - the engagement is called lightening because it lightens the load on your abdomen and takes the pressure off.
  • You may feel you are walking or waddling along with a bowling ball between your legs. How can your pelvic floor keep such a weight up there? But it does.

Pack your bag You may want to pack your hospital bag. An old or cheap nightie that buttons up the front is perfect for giving birth and for breastfeeding. Likewise a partner's long shirt or big T-shirt. Nothing either of you is fond of as giving birth is not kind to clothes.

Pack underwear, maternity sanitary towels (quite a lot), nursing bra, dressing gown, slippers, breast pads, earphones (to block out the babies and mothers crying on the post natal ward), a mobile phone, babygros (loads), baby hat, outdoor babysuit to go home in, nappy sacks, nappies, wet wipes, nappy cream, books, iPod, camera or phone for pictures. Also snacks and drinks.

Get your car seat Don't forget to buy a car seat to bring your baby home in. 



Pregnancy Encyclopedia book coverIllustrations taken from The Pregnancy Encyclopedia, £25, published by DK.

Disclaimer: The information in the pregnancy calendar is for general information and is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or antenatal team. Not all babies develop at the same time and in the same way, so this week-by-week guide may not always match your own experience. If you have any worries, consult your antenatal team or GP.

Last updated: about 2 months ago