All About Baby
Your once wiggly baby now favors certain body positions. Typically, your baby will enjoy resting with his head down and his rump toward your ribs — the ideal placement for delivery. Your baby’s movements will become less frequent as he has less wiggle room. From now on Baby’s growth will be slow and steady as he continues to put on weight and fill out.
All About You
Having odd dreams? That’s common! So is “nesting” behavior, though this tends to kick in strongest right before labor begins. Watch out! If you have a sudden, unbearable urge to scrub the grease from behind the stove, you may be heading for the hospital soon!
You’ve now entered the final month of pregnancy — congratulations! You’re probably anxious to meet your new baby and be rid of the discomforts of pregnancy. Heartburn may be a constant complaint. As your stomach is pushed upward by your ever-expanding uterus, acid from the stomach may leak back into your esophagus (acid reflux). Slow digestion caused by pregnancy also worsens the effects of heartburn since food sits in your stomach longer.
Am I in Labor?
Seems like you’d know when you’re in labor, right? Not necessarily. You may be one of the fortunate few who break their water to know for certain labor has begun. Yet for most women, figuring out when they’re in labor is no easy task.
Even doctors aren’t sure exactly what triggers labor. While they know the brain releases the hormone oxytocin to stimulate contractions in the uterus, they have no idea why it happens when it happens. The prevailing theory, explains Dr. Joanne Motino Bailey PhD, and a certified nurse midwife, is that the uterus and cervix gradually become more and more sensitive to the effects of oxytocin (which the brain releases throughout pregnancy) as delivery day approaches. “I often describe it as a hormone cascade,” says Dr. Bailey.
While you can’t see or feel when the brain releases pregnancy hormones, you will be able to notice other signs delivery day is coming soon. You may feel like the baby has “dropped.” At some point before delivery, your baby-to-be will move down into your pelvis. You may or may not notice this movement, called “lightening.” This movement can happen weeks or hours before your baby’s birth. According to Dr. Bailey, although there is no hard evidence that women feel this event, many first-time mothers seem to be more sensitive to it and notice it more.
- Your cervix stretches: While you won’t be able to tell on your own if your cervix is stretching — known as dilation — your doctor will check for this at weekly office visits as you near the end of pregnancy. You’ll likely be pleased to hear your cervix is opening in preparation for delivery, but remember that this process can take weeks. You may be dilated to one, two, or even three centimeters for a while before your body begins real labor. (Once your cervix is stretched to 10 centimeters, you’ll be ready to have your baby).
- Your cervix thins: In addition to dilation, your cervix also thins to make way for your baby. As the cervix thins — known as effacement — you may notice some blood and increased vaginal discharge. Occasionally, as the cervix thins, this blood discharge can be enough to make you wonder if it is what’s called a “bloody show.” This isn’t always the case. As Dr. Bailey points out, the capillaries in the cervix can rupture as the cervix thins. So a woman may notice some blood. But sometimes it can be hard to distinguish whether the blood comes from cervix thinning or mucus plug coming apart. Be sure to speak with your doctor if you have any concerns. She can help you discern the cause and the best course of action.
- You lose your mucus plug: A mucus plug sits at the opening of the uterus. This thick chunk of goo comes out at some point before your baby’s birth. The plug may come out all at once or gradually. You may not even notice when you lose your mucus plug. Sexual intercourse and your prenatal exam can loosen the mucus plug. Losing your mucus plug doesn’t mean you’re in labor; it can be hours or days before labor begins, says Dr. Bailey.
- You have a sudden burst of energy: Besides what’s going on inside your body, you may notice other unusual signs your baby’s birth is near. Many women find they have bursts of energy, called the nesting instinct, in the days leading up to delivery. Women report doing deep cleaning, baking, or something else that will prepare their homes for Baby’s arrival.
Q & A
Got questions about Week 36? Other women have asked…
Q: How do I find a pediatrician for my unborn baby?
Deciding who will provide healthcare for your new baby can feel overwhelming. The best way for your to start your pediatrician research is to ask friends and relatives in your hometown who has cared for their children. Ask them about the office staff, hours, and personality of their doctors. If you are new to an area and don’t have anyone to ask, your OB may be able to help. Read more about what questions to ask a pediatrician.
Q: Would it be unusual to induce at 36 weeks to avoid birthing a large baby?
On face value, it would be very unusual to do this. The baby’s lungs can be mature at 36 weeks, but 36 weeks is the center of a bell curve. Some babies do it earlier, some later. In my area, the standard of care is to not induce before 39 weeks unless there is an overriding danger to mother or infant. Read more about giving birth early.
Q: How will I know if I’m in labor?
Your healthcare provider will definitely review the signs and symptoms of labor with you well before your due date. Read more about how to tell if you’re in labor.
Your Chance to Shower, Too
Traditional baby showers begin with registering — a policy that can make life easier for everyone involved by showing generous family and friends what items you’d like to have on hand for Baby. Most major stores provide UPC scanners, allowing couples to scan the items they’d like for Baby and have that information automatically added to an in-store and/or online registry. This can be a fun process, and it gives you a glimpse at how much new stuff you’ll have for your newborn. Many companies are making an effort to reach out to dads with things like manly diaper bags (read: cool backpacks) and strollers with shock absorbers for rugged sidewalks.
Despite what you might think, baby showers aren’t just for women anymore. More parents-to-be are opting for “couples” showers, where both men and women participate and share the celebration, without robbing the expecting mother of her special moment.
If your partner really wants to have her own event, you don’t have to be left out. You’re becoming a parent, too, right? While her friends are planning something for her, talk to your friends about a get-together for the guys. Then, when your partner’s friends and family participate in the shower, your family and friends can join you for bowling, golf, etc. (There’s even the new trend called “Baby Keggers,” where guys throw the dad-to-be a party in his honor and shower him with their favorite daddy gadgets and words of wisdom.) If you and your wife want, you can come together towards the end of your separate showers and extend the celebration to everyone.
Whatever you two decide to do for the baby shower, just keep in mind that men who want to be involved from the get-go don’t have to miss out on the party!