It’s trimester 3 time. The hormonal changes have been dealt with. The swelling feet have been accepted. The pre-baby body has been farewelled like a beloved friend getting on a one-way flight with no return ticket. This is trimester 3 and the end is in sight.
With the due date around the corner, the final 4 weeks of pregnancy are like a breath of fresh air. That is, until you can’t physically take a breath of fresh air without feeling totally exhausted just by stepping out the front door.
At 36 weeks, things are good. But they’re also bad. The final 4 weeks of pregnancy are like a tender pendulum swing, balancing themselves evenly between the things that rock and the things that suck.
The 36th week of pregnancy and beyond are full of irony. This type of irony could be funny to a pregnant lady one day, making her chuckle so much that she needs to pee. Actually, that probably wasn’t the chuckling, just the pregnancy. However, the next day this irony might be brutally confronting and make a pregnant lady want to break down and cry. Actually, that might just be the hormones and pain.
There are ups and downs to 36 week. We want to be able to tell you that this is the time to sit back and relax, enjoying those last child-free weeks of your life. But the reality is, getting into that comfortable position to sit back and relax might be more effort than it’s worth.
All we can say is, enjoy the rollercoaster of week 36 and embrace the best and worst moments of the last few weeks of pregnancy.
When we say you can’t sprint, we mean that pretty literally. Any type of movement gets pretty exhausting on the home stretch of pregnancy. This is terribly ironic considering now is the time for expectant moms to focus on prenatal health and ensure they are in optimal health for delivery. Yet, getting that 30 minutes of exercise in a day is the real challenge taking over.
In fact, good luck just getting off the couch and pouring yourself a glass of water. That means giving up the comfortable position that took forever to find. But you know, once you’re up, you may as well go for a walk (waddle) around the block.
The home stretch is a battle ground between embracing the laziness (which is actually a necessity) of sitting still, and getting on with life like you’re meant to. It’s all about compromise, but no one is judging you if the compromise scales are in favour of taking more and more breaks.
This is one of those things that a pregnant lady knows is coming, but the finer details remain unknown. Is it going to happen at the grocery store in the middle of the aisle? Is it going to break while driving the car on a highway? Or will it feel like a two year old wetting the bed in the middle of the night?
When the waters break, it is a sign of pre-labor. This is just before the real fun starts and the contractions get underway. When the waters break, it can be just a trickle of liquid down the leg, or a full gushing waterfall coming out there. The waters are actually not exactly water. Rather, it is the sac of amniotic fluid that has been cushioning your baby while it's growing. Once baby is ready to come out, he essentially bursts the sac and voila, the waters break.
If there has ever been a positive about the 36th week of pregnancy, it is the fact that expectant moms are entirely entitled to relax. Sure, this can be taken as a modern day, developed world blessing. However, it is hard to argue with the science that says a relaxed and healthy mom will deliver a healthy baby ready to take on the world. So make the most of that science while the chance is there!
Although there is a lot of pain and discomfort from the pregnant belly, the Braxton Hicks contractions, and pressure all around the lower abdomen, there are many pain relief methods that involve relaxation. For instance, bathing in epsom salts infused with magnesium not only sounds appealing but is also fantastic for the pregnant body and growing baby. Likewise, resting as much with your feet up – literally up to reduce swelling – will do wonders for your physical and mental health at this point.
In every literal sense of the word, things are stretching. And when things stretch downstairs, things start to ache as well. At 36 weeks, the baby starts to drop and descend further down the uterus, preparing itself for the main event. For the expectant mom, this means that breathing gets easier, but the pelvis really does bear the brunt of the weight.
The pelvis is a typically sensitive area in anyone’s body. At week 39, the pelvic bones start to loosen and separate. Areas around the lower back, tummy, and hips are going to get uncomfortable real fast and it will feel like you’ve constantly been hit by a truck or ran a marathon, it is that kind of aching. But yeah, at least you can breathe better now that baby has moved away from your diaphragm and lungs so that they can expand back to normal. Always a silver lining, right?
The swelling from pregnancy would have been accepted long ago by most expectant moms. It is at some time during the first trimester that moms-to-be look down at where their ankles used to be and see cankles instead. Swelling around the legs is really common due to the water retention that occurs during pregnancy. Hormones are to thank for this, as well as messing up everything else in their path from the first point of conception.
Now, by 36 weeks, you can pretty much rule out your feet being anything but swollen. That is if you can even see them over the gorging belly in front of you. If you can’t see them, it isn’t a case of ignorance is bliss. No, those swollen feet still need attention no matter how far away and how inaccessible they seem. Raising your feet up at the end of the day is super important, and also quite relaxing if you dedicate time to it. Picture yourself with some chamomile tea, feet up at the end of the couch, some soft music playing...and ignore the rest of the pregnancy aches and pains.
Probably the most frustrating thing about the 36th week is knowing that baby is pretty much good to go and enter the world, but just not putting in the effort yet. This can be taken as a good thing for expectant moms knowing they have done the right things along the way to get their baby to full development. Or it can make moms feel like yelling at their belly ‘are you ready yet?!’
Basically, the only development that is left for baby after 36 weeks is gaining weight. And gaining weight means that you’re the one who has to carry it, in a very literal manner. The baby gains about an ounce a day from 36 weeks onward and measures at about 18 inches. So baby is just getting bigger and more comfortable, while on the outside you’re getting bigger and significantly less comfortable. Well, motherhood isn’t about fairness now, is it?
While this isn’t anything new for pregnant ladies, but the phrase ‘peeing like a pregnant lady’ is about to take on a whole new layer of meaning at 36 weeks. It is in every expectant moms best interest to stay close to a toilet. When entering any new public space, the first point of reference should be to locate the toilet. This is something no expectant mom will regret.
The biological reasons for needing to urinate so much make perfect sense. The uterus is so big at this stage and it's putting so much pressure on the bladder. In fact, the bladder doesn’t even need to fill up much before you feel like you need to go. This is going to be all day long, and all night long. Just be careful when you get up and need to pee during the night – moving too quickly can make your blood pressure drop. And pregnancy makes you clumsy so be careful of bumping the bump into anything!
Working hard, or hardly working? Well, pregnant ladies are doing both. That is, up until maternity leave. When that happens, they get to leave one job on hold for a while, but prepare for an even bigger job. So yeah, expectant moms are never really on a ‘break’ from work.
Nonetheless, maternity leave is an important time for pregnant ladies to take a break from their regular work life. It is actually quite necessary to chill out, as much as physically possible during maternity leave.
While there are lots of things you want to get organised, such as finalising the nursery and ensuring you have everything packed for the hospital stay, you also need to take care of your emotional and mental health. Take this time to socialise lots with family and friends, go for a walk (waddle) each day, and really invest in healthy eating and ‘you’ time before baby makes its grand entrance.
So yeah, this is a thing. During pregnancy, the breasts are doing their part as well as the rest of the body to get ready for the baby. Now, women and breasts have always had a tumultuous relationship from the moment puberty kicks in. They grow, shift, and change at their own accord. They always want new bras and there never seems to be enough to support with sports bra for a simple jog.
Throughout pregnancy, the breasts have been getting bigger. You might have noticed this, especially by 36 weeks. They are just getting fatter, rather it's your hormones making them burst out as they fill up with milk. At 36 weeks, the teats are just about ready to have a baby suckle away and get the milk moving on out. In fact, they can be so ready that they start to leak. Lactate leaks are pretty noticeable and pretty embarrassing. At 36 weeks, it is a good time to invest in some sturdy maternity bras, patches, and dark clothes that are loose fitting.
So the end result of pregnancy is a beautiful baby. Sure, this baby comes out screaming and covered in mucus and slime. But hey, at least it isn’t covered in hair anymore. That all sheds around the 36 week mark.
Oh, right, did you realise that while hanging out in your womb, your baby was actually a hairy mini beast? Well, that’s a thing. While developing, babies grow a thin layer of hair called lanugo. This hair is a protective measure against bacteria and any nasties that enter the amniotic fluid. The hair doesn’t just grow on their head, but also their back and limbs.
One last thing, since the baby does shed its hair, it ends up floating back around the amniotic fluid. Now, you know what growing babies eat in the womb? Their amniotic fluid. So the good news is that you don’t have a hairy baby at 36 weeks. But you do have a baby who just ate its own hair.
After 8 months of pregnancy, expectant moms have learnt that they’ve gotta get organised. This is technically an optional decision, but really the outcome of disorganisation is spelling out a lifetime of chaos once there’s a baby in the picture.
Getting organised starts with arranging the nursery for the baby, baby-proofing things around the home, and getting used to the fact that from now on everything must be written down or it shall be forgotten.
Now, finally at 36 weeks, pregnant women can start packing their ‘labor bag’. This is actually really important to do, because you can essentially pop at any time from 36 weeks on. So it’s best to have that bag ready to go!
Things you want in the bag include a change of clothes for you, an easy and simple outfit for the baby that you can assemble quickly, a water bottle, some towels, healthy snacks, etc.
That guy Braxton Hicks thought he was on to something, naming false contractions and understanding them. Sure, this is important knowledge and all that. But at 36 weeks, Braxton Hicks has an array of pregnant women wanting to punch him in the face for every false contraction they have.
Braxton Hicks contractions are painful and uncomfortable, but they aren’t the real thing. The main difference is that they aren’t steadily close together, rather they can occur at any time throughout the day. The bad thing about this then is that at any moment you can feel like someone is wrenching your guts from the inside out. It’s just not something that pregnant women need to deal with, but unfortunately they can start sporadically from 36 weeks on. Typically, they won’t be a real drama until the 40 week mark, but just keep it in your mind that something worse than cramps is coming your way.
Lesson for the day, don’t ask a pregnant lady ‘how are you?’ or ‘how’s it going?’ Sure, show concern and care the way that friends do, but this is such an open ended question and it cannot be answered simply. For pregnant women, there is just too much to answer to ‘how are you?’ and none of it is very diplomatic.
Basically, the first answer that comes to mind for pregnant women is ‘TIRED!’. Expectant moms are perpetually exhausted and pretty much living under a cloud of fatigue. But because society loves pregnant moms, they want to hear the positives. So pregnant women, on top of feeling completely tired and run down, feel obliged to smile and say how happy they are and how well the baby is growing. The truth isn’t always what people want to hear, after all. However, that takes a lot of energy to muster, especially when you’re already so tired!
So pregnant women are encouraged to relax at 36 weeks of pregnancy. We’ve spoken about how important it is to elevate the feet and take time out to sit down through the day. However, actually finding that comfortable position is easier said than done.
Pretty much, once you have found a comfortable way to sit on the couch, hold it! You want to enter the comfort-finding mode armed with snacks, beverages, and anything you may need close. Make sure the phone is fully charged. Make sure you have a book close by. If you drop the remote on the floor, consider it a fallen soldier and let it go.
Find your comfort and do not let go of it. You might have to be a bit strategic about when you choose to relax. Ideally, wait for your partner to be home so they can dote upon you. No partner? Well, with that fully charged phone ring a friend to bring you what you need. Everything is an emergency when you’re pregnant.
The hormonal rollercoaster is no surprise to pregnant women. The point of conception is like your body telling you to hold on tight and keep all arms and legs in the vehicle at all times. Things are going to get intensely up and down.
As you go throughout pregnancy, the hormones are relentlessly changing and your body is going through so much. It is a lot to handle, which is why no one blames you for having some moments of craziness.
Therefore, at 36 weeks, people kind of expect you to be crazy. Even though they want to hear about how great the baby is going and want to see you smile, they also wait on edge for you to do something just a little bit crazy. It can be an action, a phrase, or just a sparkle in your eye that says you’re about to blow. But people will be kind to you regardless. So if you become irrationally upset or enraged at a shop keeper because they only have barbecue crisps when you are clearly craving salt and vinegar, they will probably go out of their way to help you, because at 36 weeks you are so obviously pregnant.
Sources: Babycenter.com, Huggies.com.au