35 weeks pregnant
In the final weeks of pregnancy, your job is to rest and relax as much as you can. The hard work from here to the start of labour is all down to your rapidly growing baby now.
Your baby at 35 weeks
With five weeks till B-day, your baby is gearing up for life outside. Here are some of the headlines from week 35 in the womb:
- This week your baby continues to lay down fat (he’s concentrating on the shoulder area currently) and his hair may already be a few centimetres long. In short, he’s looking more and more like a picture book baby every day.
- On a less picture book note, he’s also producing an impressive 500ml of urine a day.
- His bowel is full of meconium – the name of the thick, sticky green/black first bowel movement. He will usually wait until he is born and has his first babygro on to open his bowels, but sometimes, if he is a bit stressed during labour, he may do so on the way out. The thing you need to know about meconium is that it’s the consistency of Marmite and is harder to get off fabric than cement. So just pray he gets it all out of his system on the hospital towels.
- His nervous system has more connections between nerve cells and muscles, and his reflexes are stronger. He can now grasp, search with his mouth for a nipple and suck like a vampire, too. He also responds well to light and sound.
- He is likely to be in the head-down (cephalic) position. If he’s head up this is called ‘breech’ – when your baby is bottom or feet down instead of head down in the pelvis.
You are more likely to have a breech baby if you have a lot of amniotic fluid, if your placenta is lying low in your womb, or you have more than one baby. About 4% of babies are still breech at 37 weeks. At this stage, your doctor may suggest trying to turn your baby by manipulating him through your abdomen. His heart will be monitored before and after the procedure to make sure he is OK.
If there is any doubt about your baby’s wellbeing, he may have to be delivered sooner rather than later, so bring your hospital bag. Some breech babies are born vaginally but many are done by caesarean section because it can sometimes be safer for your baby.
What size is the baby at 35 weeks?
At week 35 your baby is almost 46cm long and weighs around 2.5kg. Last week he was the size of a canteloupe melon – this week it’s a honeydew. That’s right – you’ve got to the stage of him being too big to be compared with anything other than melons. Brace yourself for watermelon week.
How is your body changing at 35 weeks pregnant?
You’re pretty big by now and amniotic fluid is lower than it has been so you’ll notice that when your baby moves, you can often work out exactly what he’s up to in there as you’ll spot body parts moving across your belly.
Your uterus is currently a whopping 1,000 times its normal size, which is hard to compute, but it’s done an amazing job over the last 30-odd weeks and still has some impressive tricks up its sleeve as it prepares to slowly push the baby down to the birth canal.
Although your baby is gaining around 28g a day now, you yourself probably won’t have much more weight to gain.
If your baby has not yet moved into the head-down position, you could try spending some time on your hands and knees, wiggling your hips each evening (close the curtains first – it’s not attractive) or watching television sitting with your legs straddled around the back of a chair. Both these positions help open up the pelvis area and encourage your baby to dive in head first.
Pregnancy symptoms in week 35
People may tease you about 'nesting' but it must be normal because even the untidiest woman is strangely drawn to cleaning kitchen cupboards or repainting the hall at this stage of pregnancy. Maybe we need to be sure that before a big life event the rest of our world is in good order.
It is a real phenomenon, but it’s a compulsion that, if it gets too ridiculous, should be resisted. Don't climb ladders to paint the corner of the ceiling, for example.
Nesting is part of getting emotionally ready and may make you feel more prepared and relaxed for the birth, so as long as it’s safe – go with it. Getting down on your hands and knees to scrub the floor may just help get your baby into a good position for birth, too.
Things to think about during week 35 of pregnancy
You’re well and truly on the countdown to giving birth now. Hopefully you’re on maternity leave or will be soon and are able to use the time to rest, relax and generally get your energy reserves stocked up ready for the final push.
Make the most of your maternity leave
Those last days and weeks before birth are hugely important in terms of resting up and getting on top of any final tasks on your baby to-do list.
Try and have a nap each day if you can. If you have older children to look after, even just a lie down for 10 minutes while they watch some TV or have a nap themselves will help. It’s a good opportunity to practise your breathing for labour, too.
If you’re able to, now is also a great time to treat yourself to a pregnancy massage or maybe a pedicure – it’s probably been a while since you’ve been able to see your feet, let alone give them any attention.
This week is a good time to ensure you have any baby equipment you need (and order it if you don’t). Have a look at Mumsnet’s reviews section if you still need input from other parents on which products will be best for your lifestyle.
And once you’ve got everything, don’t forget to check you know how to use it all. Can you install the car seat easily, for example? The last thing you want is to be fiddling about with clips and buttons outside the hospital with your newborn in your arms.
It’s also worth having a think about whether you want to breastfeed or bottlefeed and make sure you have everything you need, or at least enough to keep you going if you try one and then change your mind or it doesn’t work out. You don’t need much for breastfeeding – just some breastpads, nipple cream and maybe an emergency bottle in case you have problems at the start.
Fear of labour
What mother-to-be isn't anxious about labour, even if they've done it before? It’s funny how packing your hospital bag can bring on an attack of stage fright at this point in pregnancy.
Anything from mild anxiety to a state of total panic is par for the course, but if you feel more anxious than most people or it’s starting to take over your life you should talk to your antenatal team. They may be able to reassure you or even refer you to a psychologist. There’s lots of help available.
Research shows that if you are scared of childbirth, you're actually more likely to have a longer labour. A study in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found that women who were most scared were on average an hour and a half longer in labour as well as being more likely to have an emergency c-section.
Lots of women worry about being in control in labour and being able to smile, thank the midwife and not abuse their partner. Remember there is nothing the medical team will not have seen before and lots of women shout and scream in labour – it's definitely allowed.
You may also worry about doing a poo but, in reality, although some often leaks out, there isn't a whole heap up there because the baby is pushing on your rectum and it is likely to be pretty empty. If there is any mess the midwife will wipe it away (and not shout about it).
You may worry about your waters breaking in public or not getting to the hospital in time. Both these things are rare. Talk to your partner about being contactable from now on, what you will do if they cannot get there quickly (is there anyone nearer you can get to stand in?) and what you should do with any other children. Once you have a plan in place you’ll feel better about it.
Another common worry is that you and your baby will be OK. While, tragically, stillbirth does still happen every day, keep in mind that by far the vast majority of babies and mothers are fine. It might make you feel better to learn about labour and what happens. Believe us, because it is true, that there is no right way to have a baby.
Antenatal classes, in which the whole process of labour and birth is explained, may well help. They’ll also give you the opportunity to talk to other women who may be as anxious as you. It's a good idea to write down your questions before you go to antenatal classes. As well as learning about pain relief, classes are likely to cover what your birth partner can do to support you, what the first stages of labour are likely to be like, what your choices in labour might be and what you can expect in the early days with a newborn.