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36 Weeks Pregnant


Image: Fetal Development At 36 Weeks

By now your baby measures about 46cm from head to toe. You may well be able to distinguish elbow from head and foot when he shifts about – amazing! His kidneys are now fully developed and his liver is processing some waste. He even has sets of full-length toenails and fingernails.

Did you know your womb is currently 1,000 times its normal size?! No wonder you get so tired sometimes. Your belly button will have grown and popped out. The pressure of the top of your uterus under your ribs may be causing you indigestion and breathlessness. A good way to take some deep breaths is to get down on all fours.

Even though you probably feel like you’re spending as much time in the loo as anywhere else, don’t be tempted to drink less fluid – your baby needs it! Try to stick to water as much as you can and avoid diuretics like tea and coffee.

Apart from the effects of the caffeine being bad for baby, they also make you pee more often.

There’s a lot less amniotic fluid inside you and most of the space in your womb is being taken up by the baby. If you were a healthy weight when you became pregnant, you’ve probably gained about 10kg-12.5kg now. You may be pleased to know you probably won’t put on that much more.

If you’re already off on maternity leave, now is a good time to begin taking a daily afternoon rest. Keep practicing your breathing techniques too!
Should I be thinking about packing my birth bag yet?
So the big day will soon be here! In spite of what you might think, it’s not too early to start getting your hospital bag together – you’ll be surprised how the time can creep up on you. And it’s often good to prepare now so that you can relax as much as possible in your final couple of weeks. Even if you’re planning a home birth, there’s a chance you may have to go to hospital unexpectedly so it’s best to be prepared.

Keep in mind that different hospitals have different policies about what you can and can’t bring. There may be a limit to the space available and hospitals also vary in the amenities they provide. So it’s best to check beforehand.

Some mums-to-be pack two bags – one for labour and the hours immediately following the birth, and then one for their stay on the postnatal ward. If your birth is straightforward the hospital may send you home on the same day, in which case you won’t even need the second bag.

What should I pack in my hospital bag for my day of labour?

  • First and foremost, your maternity notes and birth plan.
  • A dressing gown. Bear in mind that hospitals are often pretty warm so you might want to pack a lightweight gown. This will come in handy not only if you stay on the postnatal ward, but also if you end up pacing the halls in early labour!
  • Slippers and socks. Many women find their feet get cold in early labour.
  • An old T-shirt or nightie to wear for the birth. Remember it will probably get quite messy, so you might not want to bring anything expensive or new.
  • Lip balm.
  • Massage oil – that is if you want to be massaged during labour (some women find they don’t want to be touched).
  • Things to help you relax and occupy you. For example some women have their partners read to them in labour.
  • Food and drink to keep you going in labour. Remember, labour can be a long process and you need to keep your blood sugar levels up. You might want to bring some glucose tablets or isotonic sports drinks.
  • Cushions. Many women bring a few cushions from home to create a more homely, less clinical feel and hospital cushions might be limited.
  • Hair band. If you have long hair you may find you want your hair back away from your face.
  • Toiletries.
  • TENS machine for pain relief, if you want one.
  • Music to help relax you. You might need to bring a player that takes batteries as many hospitals don’t let you use plugs. It’s good to ask beforehand because some hospitals provide radios and CD players.

What should my birth partner pack for labour?

  • Comfy shoes for pacing!
  • Spare clothes to change into.
  • A watch for timing contractions – make sure it has a second hand.
  • Water spray and/or a hand-held fan. Mum will get very hot!
  • Swimwear – if the labour is going to include a birth pool and you want to join the woman of the hour in the water.
  • Address book. Remember you can only use cellular phones in parts of the hospital so also bring plenty of change and phone cards just in case.
  • Snacks or drinks – remember the birth partner needs their strength too!
  • Camcorder or digital camera. Although remember not all hospitals allow camcorders in delivery rooms, so check first.

What shall I pack for after the birth at the hospital?

  • Breast pads, maternity pads and nursing bras. Bring plenty!
  • Front-opening T-shirt or nightie.
  • Going-home outfit. Pack comfy, loose-fitting clothes to wear in hospital and for going home. Sadly, your tummy won’t go down straight away so you should pack maternity clothes. It’s a good thing your baby is so worth it!
  • Arnica tablets for post-birth bruising. Although there’s a lack of conclusive evidence as to its effectiveness, many women say arnica really helped them with bruising after birth. Worth a go, hey? You can pick some up cheaply at your local health food shop.
  • Ear plugs. Just in case your ward is noisy (let’s hope not!)
  • Hairbrush, toothpaste, toothbrush, towels and any other toiletries you might need.
  • Old or disposable knickers. They will get messy, so only bring pairs you would be prepared to throw away if you had to. For mums who have caesareans, the National Childcare Trust (NCT) sells special stretchy knickers that won’t irritate your scar.

What should I bring for my baby on the day of labour?

  • An appropriate baby car seat. Don’t leave without it!
  • Baby blanket. If it’s cold bring a thick one.
  • Hat to keep her little head warm!
  • Cold-weather jacket if it’s winter.
  • Nappies – that’s one area you really don’t want to get caught short in.
  • Muslin for when she spits or brings up a bit of baby vomit.

  • Outfit for going home in. Many parents choose all in ones because they’re simple.
  • A few vests and sleepsuits for your little one’s time in hospital.

Possible Scan at Week 36
The purpose of a Well-being Scan is to check that the baby is growing well and that the pregnancy is developing normally. You may want to have this scan if your baby has been moving less, if you have had unusual tummy pains, light bleeding or if you have had some kind of accident (for example on the road or in a fall).

A Wellbeing Scan is particularly important if you have had pregnancy complications or problems in a previous pregnancy. This scan is usually only offered by the NHS if there is a complication with the pregnancy.