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36 weeks pregnant


Baby at 36 weeks pregnantYour baby at 36 weeks

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 your baby will have her own personality. How she behaves and thinks are already being determined.

She will be sleeping more now, 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 in the big wide world. 

Some studies of foetal heart rate and movements show a link between those who are active in the womb being more irritable babies. Other research shows a positive correlation between foetus activity and social skills in the early years. It's not long now till you'll meet your baby and find out what they're really like.

It's thought that women's hormones also influence their baby's personalities. Talking to your baby calmly and reassuringly is recommended - poking them or waking them up to stimulate them with a Shakespeare sonnet, on the other hand, may interfere with their normal development.

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. 

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: 4 months ago