Pregnancy week by week



Week 36 of Pregnancy

A growing sense of impatience may start creeping over you. You would have formed an image of your baby in your mind and now you are keen to see how accurate it is. Remember, your baby is still maturing and every single day inside is helping him put on more weight. He will come out when he is ready.

From this week onwards it will be all about checking your progress. You will probably start having your antenatal visits once a week from now on. This is to make sure everything is progressing smoothly. In the last couple of weeks, your gynaecologist will also be checking your cervix for effacement and dilation, signs that your labour is not far off. Effacement refers to the thinning of the cervix and dilation is in reference to the opening of the cervix. The process of labour stretches your cervix and allows your baby to pass through the birth canal. Your cervix is fully dilated when the opening measures 10 cms. The presentation and lie of your baby will also play a crucial role. Normal checks of your blood pressure and urine will continue. Your doctor will advise an ultrasound to see the baby’s position and heart beat.

The most common position in which babies place themselves from about 36 weeks on is head down (vertex position) and it is also considered to be the safest for delivery. The other positions which babies may be are breech and transverse. A baby in transverse position lies with his back or shoulder placed over the cervix, while in breech a baby is positioned buttocks or feet first as opposed to the head.

Ideally most women wish for a normal vaginal delivery, but there are complications that can occur with vaginal birth as well. It is a good idea to be aware of what can happen and what will be done in such circumstance. Some of those possible complications with vaginal birth are assisted vaginal birth, episiotomy, or breech birth.

Remember, majority of labours go smoothly, so there is no need to get anxious or worry too much about labour complications.

Your body

Till now your baby has been floating freely inside your uterus. But now, over the next couple of weeks, you may notice your baby gradually dropping down in your abdomen. This is called lightening. Your doctor may refer to it by saying that the baby’s head is now “engaged”. It will be lot easier for you to breathe and eat as the pressure on the diaphragm has eased. Since your baby is no longer cramped up against your rib cage, indigestion and heart burn will be less of a problem. However, you could need to wee a lot from the pressure on your bladder.

Your breast will feel more sensitive than usual because they are now filled with milk. They may start to leak colostrums, which is a yellowish form of pre-milk. You may have to wear nursing pads inside your bra to prevent your clothes from getting stained.

As your bump gets bigger, you may find it hard to get to sleep. Try lying on your side with your top knee resting on a cushion. This prevents any pressure on your bump, but you might also need more room in bed. Warn your partner now that he will have to move over.

You might be experiencing more discomfort from haemorrhoids caused by the increased pressure of your growing baby on the veins in your rectum. You might also be constipated, which makes haemorrhoids worse as you strain for a bowel movement. You should drink lots of fluids and eat plenty of whole grains, fruits, salads, and green leafy vegetables. Try not to strain for bowel movements, and always talk with your doctor before taking a laxative.

Your baby

Your baby may weigh around 2.5kg. He/she could measure around 49cm (crown-rump length is about 32 cm). Your baby is putting on 28 grams a day, your baby’s face has rounded out and fat begins to fill out on the elbow and knees. She sleeps dreams, wakes and kicks. There is also a lot of new brain tissue developing and with it intelligence. Your baby’s skull isn’t completely hard yet, and won’t be completely hard until after he or she is born. This makes delivery easier than it would be otherwise.

Most of the babies are now in the position, either head down (vertex) or buttock down (breech), that they will maintain until birth. If your baby is still in a breech position, your doctor may recommend turning the position of your baby by external cephalic version. It is a procedure which involves applying pressure to your abdomen and if successful, it will enable you to give vaginal birth safely.


This week you may notice that your baby’s kicks have become less frequent. This is because in the last few weeks your baby has grown too big to kick and punch. You may feel him moving less often, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t be making any movements at all. If your baby seems unusually silent, speak to your doctor. She may want to a non stress test or a biophysical profile to make sure everything is fine.


1) What are the implications of low amniotic fluid? How will it affect my pregnancy?

This condition is known as Oligohydraminos. It is measured with the help of an ultrasound and calculated in terms of AFI (amniotic fluid index). An AFI above 18 means there is too much amniotic fluid (polyhydraminos) an AFI below 6 means the level is low (oligohydramnios).

Amniotic fluid plays a vital role in regulating your baby’s body temperature, cushioning his body and conditioning his respiratory and digestive problems. Therefore, it is important that the fluid level is high enough to support baby’s growth. The amount of amniotic fluid increases until the beginning of the third trimester and peaks at 36 weeks. Thereafter, it gradually begins to decrease until you give birth.

Oligohydraminos requires close monitoring of your baby’s heart rate (by non stress test) and his growth (by ultrasound) till the time you deliver. The main concern for your doctor is that oligohydraminos can slow your baby’s growth and restrict his lungs from growing. If your doctor is concerned about your baby’s progress, it may be safer for your baby to be delivered early.  Depending on the level of amniotic fluid and baby’s health, she may decide on either a vaginal delivery or a Caesarean section.

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