Thirty-Six to Forty weeks Pregnant
This is the last full month of your pregnancy. You may be winding up at work, finishing up projects at home. The baby is coming soon!
Although the baby is getting bigger and is almost ready to be born, it is not full term until 40 weeks. Although it is safe for a baby to be born at 37 week, most first babies are born after 40 weeks. And 40-week babies are bigger and stronger and often breastfeed better. Don’t start expecting the baby too early – it makes for a long wait!
How you might feel between thirty-six and forty weeks of pregnancy:
- Your growing baby is using up almost all your resources. You may be feeling very tired at the end of the day.
- Back pain, caused by the increasing weight of the baby and softening joints, may slow you down too.
- Baby’s movements are not just kicks anymore, but feel more like stretches and rolls. Baby’s hiccups – a little, slow, pulse-like feeling, deep inside you – can feel odd.
- You may find it difficult to sleep through the night, waking frequently to pee or to roll over. Try to take the sleep interruptions lightly. Stay relaxed. Sleep will come again soon.
- Heartburn becomes (or is still) a problem.
- Braxton-Hicks contractions, also called pregnancy contractions, may start to become more intense. Remember your uterus contracts more if you are dehydated or over-active. Take it easy and have a glass of water if the tightenings start to bother you.
- Feet and ankles may be swollen by the end of the day, or if the weather is warm.
Things you may do between thirty-six and forty weeks weeks of pregnancy:
- Getting ready for your baby to come home. Washing clothes, tidying, installing car seat.
- Cooking and freezing meals for after the baby comes.
- Enjoy time alone with your partner! Go out for some meals, to the movies.
- Buy nursing bras around 37-38 weeks. An experienced fitter can help you find a bra that will fit as your breasts get bigger when your milk “come in” around day 3 of your baby’s life.
- Think about daycare? It sounds ridiculous, but if you are planning to go back to work outside the home after your maternity leave is over, you need to think ahead.
- Think about the Fourth Trimester (first three months of baby’s life) … Who will be available for physical support right after the baby is born? Partner? Birth-helper? Family? Friends? Post-partum Doula? All of the above?
Between thirty-six and forty weeks of pregnancy, your care-provider will probably:
- Be seeing you once a week at this stage.
- Weigh you at each visit and discuss healthy weight gain.
- Check your blood pressure.
- Check your urine for protein and infection.
- Palpate and measure your abdomen.
- Listen to the baby’s heart beat using a hand held Doppler ultrasound device.
- Review test results.
- Discuss breastfeeding, the importance of feeding early and often.
- Newborn care in the hospital, including eye ointment, Vitamin K and newborn screening tests.
- Infant sleep and safety
- Postpartum moods and support
- Options if pregnancy is prolonged – monitoring and induction.
Your care provider is one of your best sources of information. Keep a list of questions to ask at your monthly appointments.
Things you can do for your health and your baby’s health:
- Might be a good time for a pedicure! Very relaxing, and totally justified when you can’t reach your feet!
- Aquafit classes really help with swollen feet and legs, and backache. Or just go for a gentle evening swim.
- Be aware of your baby’s movements. Although babies slow down in the last few weeks, they still move a lot! Keep track of times when you expect your baby to move. Note your baby’s daily patterns.
- Keep working on perineal massage to increase health of perineal tissues and give you practice relaxing as perineum stretches.
- Learn about Postpartum Mood Disorders. What might it feel like? Where can you find help if you need it? 20-40% of women are diagnosed with some mood disorder (anxiety or depression) after giving birth. We’re pretty sure other women have the same feelings but never seek help. Support makes it all easier to deal with.
- Ask friends to throw you a shower where they all bring casseroles for the freezer or tell a friend about MealTrain (I think this is really cool!) and get them to set up a meal rotation for you after the baby comes.
Finding a Doula in Victoria, BC: Greater Victoria Doula Directory
What to pack in your hospital bag: Packing for the Hospital.
Home Birth Supplies – an example: Access Midwifery, Victoria
Instructions for Perineal Massage: Perineal Massage in Pregnancy
Organizing friends and family to help with meals: Mealtrain.com
Learning about postpartum emotions: Pacific Postpartum Support Society
Coping with postpartum depression and anxiety: Healthy Families BC