Pregnancy week 36 – Almost full-term, but not quite

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YOUR CHANGING LIFE

Do the pregnancy waddle
Welcome to week 36 of your pregnancy. You’ve only got four weeks to go until your due date – how exciting is that? At this point, you’re probably itching for that day to creep closer, as most moms-to-be feel pretty fed up with being pregnant around this time. Not only have you been dealing with whacky symptoms for the majority of your pregnancy, but the added weight of your growing baby has really been taking its toll on your body lately.

As you may have noticed, your belly (which is probably pretty huge at this point) is putting a lot of weight on your hips and pelvis. This, in turn, has transformed your regular gait into what’s known as the full-term pregnancy waddle. It may not be the type of strut that belongs on a catwalk, but no one’s going to give you a hard time about it! It’s mostly the result of your hormones triggering your connective tissue to relax in preparation for delivery. Unfortunately, those loose muscles and joints can lead to hip and pelvic pain.

You may also have started feeling more Braxton Hicks contractions lately. Actual labor will eventually take place after these contractions, but over the next couple of weeks you should consider them good practice for the real thing. If you want some good news (of course you do!), your baby is getting ready to drop lower into your pelvis these days, which should open up more room near your stomach and lungs, meaning you should be feeling less heartburn and might be breathing easier. However, this won’t have any positive effects on your bladder – you’ll still be going quite frequently – sorry!

YOUR BABY THIS WEEK

From honeydew melon to canary melon
Your baby is still the size of a melon this week, but has graduated to the size of a canary melon, which is about 6 pounds and 18 1/2 inches long. The fine, downy hair that has covered your baby thus far, called lanugo, is starting to shed, along with the vernix caseosa. If you remember, the vernix caseosa is the waxy substance that was protecting your baby’s skin from being submerged in the amniotic fluid. Both of these substances are being swallowed by your baby, along with more amniotic fluid and other substances, all of which will form a blackish mixture called meconium, which will become your baby’s first bowel movement. His or her digestive system has been getting a lot of practice, but the real deal won’t happen until your baby’s first feeding outside of the womb.

All of your little one’s other systems and functions should be working full-time by now, and he or she is getting closer to being able to breathe. The liver and kidneys are working, as well as the circulation system and immune system. Your baby’s bones and cartilage are formed but they’re very soft, as a lot of contortion is going to happen as you push him or her from your womb! In addition, fat continues to develop on your little one, which is necessary for maintaining body temperature outside of your temperature-controlled womb. About 15 percent of his or her body will be fatty tissue when he or she is born.

HOW TO

Pack a hospital bag
You’re still weeks away, but chances are you need to channel that nervous and excited energy somehow – why not by getting your hospital bag all figured out? While you won’t be needing any sexy maternity dresses, you do need a few essentials for yourself, and, of course, there are things you need for a new baby. Start by figuring out the stuff you need, like insurance forms, a breastfeeding book if that’s what you’re planning, toiletries and personal items, socks, a bathrobe, maternity bras and nursing pads, cell phone and charger, a going-home outfit, pajamas and underwear that you don’t mind ruining. Your partner might want to pack a few things too, like an extra change of clothes and toiletries in case an overnight is necessary.

For the baby, remember to bring things like receiving blankets, baby clothes, diapers, a diaper bag and a car seat (this is usually required before you go home). Other things you may want to bring include a camera, extra snacks or change for the hospital vending machines, an MP3 player for some music and light reading materials. You could be in the hospital for a while during labor, so you’ll need plenty of entertainment to keep your mind occupied while you handle those contractions.

Don’t plan to bring any clothes that you really like, as they may get ruined, and don’t bother bringing a stopwatch to time contractions – your nurses will take care of that!

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