pregnancy at week 36 fetus

The size of your baby at 36 weeks is approximately the size of a papaya. They are around 46.8cm from the top of their head to their heel (crown-heel length). Curled up, from the top of their head to their buttocks (crown-rump length), they are approximately 32.9cm. They weigh roughly 2.7kg.

pregnancy at week 36 baby weight and length compared to a fruit or vegetable

At the 36 week mark, almost 93% of babies will be in the head-down position as they are getting ready for birth. 

Your baby at 36 weeks

Your not-so-little fetus is readying to make their big entrance into the world. They have started to drop lower and their growth has started to slow down. However, there are still some changes they’ll be going through at this point. 

Here are the important developments that your 36-week baby is going through: 

Bodily functions

Your 36-week fetus will have fully developed lungs and kidneys now. Their eyelids have also developed smooth margins and are almost fully formed. At 36 weeks they would be able to suckle breast milk

Fetal skull and bones

Your little one’s skull bones are not fused together yet. This is a good thing and means their head can manoeuvre through the birth canal more easily. 

While babies at 36 weeks have fully-developed bones and cartilage, they are still quite soft, allowing for an easier journey into the world during delivery. But not to worry, they’ll harden over the first few years of life.

Position of your baby

By this point, your bubba should have turned to a head-down position in preparation for birth. However, it’s not uncommon for your baby to still be in a ‘breech’ position – they may very well still turn naturally. 

Your obstetrician may do a version procedure for a breech baby. This is a low-risk procedure where the OB will lift or push your belly slightly to encourage your little one to turn. 

Your body at 36 weeks pregnant

pregnant belly at 36 weeks of pregnancy
Image by Cassidy Rowell from Unsplash

At 36 weeks your pregnancy symptoms will likely have you feeling uncomfortable. But hang in there, your little one will soon be out and in your arms! These are some of the common symptoms you may experience or re-experience:

  • Nesting instinct: While it’s normal to become slower and more sluggish at this heavily pregnant stage, many women may get a burst of energy known as nesting instinct. 

This usually happens in the last few weeks of pregnancy and inspires them to clean and organise the house in preparation for the baby’s arrival. Safe ways to do this include solidifying your birth plan, cooking in bulk, deep cleaning and organising the nursery or pantry, etc.

  • Lightening: You’ll likely begin to experience what is called ‘lightening’. This occurs when your little one begins to drop lower as they ready for their birthday. Don’t panic if your belly suddenly looks different. 

This will happen once your baby drops down into your pelvis. You may feel like you can suddenly breathe again – and have room for bigger meals!

  • Pelvic pressure: While your baby dropping lower down brings relief to the top half of you, the trade-off will be the added pressure in the pelvic area. This may lead to frequent urination, aches, and pains. With your baby burrowing deeper into your pelvis and your uterus weighing you down, you’ll likely be doing the penguin waddle.

Try to remedy this discomfort by lying with your hips elevated, doing some pelvic exercises, or taking warm baths. 

Taking care of yourself when pregnant at 36 weeks

healthy diet during pregnancy foods rich in vitamin c
Image by Ben Ashby from Unsplash
  • Consume enough vitamin C: In week 36 of pregnancy, it’s important to make sure that you’re getting enough vitamin C. At this stage, ensuring that your immune system, bones, and muscles are staying strong for the big day is a must. 

Try to eat as many vitamin C rich foods as you can. If you’re taking a prenatal vitamin, it may contain enough, otherwise, an added supplement will work too.

  • Stay active: Continuing with pregnancy-safe exercise throughout your third trimester and right up to birth has proven to make for an easier birth experience. Light to moderate exercise is best. Workouts like yoga, pilates, walking, and swimming are some of the best. 

This will improve your mental health, digestion, stress levels, and general comfortability too. Light stretching will help relieve pressure from your back. Standing backbends are also great for relieving this lower back pain caused by your large belly. Place your hands on your hips and gently bend backwards about 20 degrees. 

  • Get prepared: When you’re pregnant at 36 weeks, your little bundle of joy will be arriving soon and you may relieve a lot of stress by being fully prepared. If you haven’t done things like solidifying your birth plan, packing your hospital bag, and organising your home for your newest family member, now is a good time to do so. 
  • Perineal massage: The perineum is the area between the vagina and the anus. Massaging this area in the weeks leading up to your due date can reduce the chances of tearing or having an episiotomy (cutting the perineum) during birth.

This is particularly effective in women over the age of 20 and women having their first baby. To massage the perineum, put one or two fingers into the vagina and massage downwards towards the perineum, pulling towards the sides gently. You should feel tingling or a slight burning sensation, but no intense pain. 

This technique is used to help stretch the skin of the perineum for delivery, It will prepare the tissue for what’s to come and allow you to learn the sensation of birth.

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