36 Weeks Pregnant: Symptoms & Baby Development - Babylist
36 Weeks Pregnant
April 6, 2021

36 Weeks Pregnant

Babylist editors love baby gear and independently curate their favorite products to share with you. If you buy something through links on our site, Babylist may earn a commission.
36 Weeks Pregnant.
36 Weeks Pregnant

How Big Is Your Baby at 36 Weeks?

Your baby is 18.7 inches long and weighs 5.8 pounds this week. That’s about the size of a bag of Bugles.

Here’s what else to know when you’re 36 weeks pregnant:

Your Baby’s Development at 36 Weeks

Around 36 weeks, baby is preparing to make their grand entrance. They may be starting to move into or be fully in the “head-down” position, and you may experience them dropping, which basically means they move down into your pelvic region to get ready for birth. Find out more about what’s happening with your baby at 36 weeks.

  • Blood flow: Your baby is getting so ready for the world! By now their blood circulation is fully up and running.
  • Digestion: One system in baby’s development needs more help though: digestion. Since your baby hasn’t had any milk yet and won’t drink it until after they’re born, it will take a little while for their stomach to get completely up to speed. Cue the spit up.
  • Shedding: The downy hair on the baby’s body is coming off, and so is the vernix caseosa (remember the cheesy varnish that was protecting the skin?).
  • Head down: By this point your baby should be in the cephalic or head-down position. If they aren’t, there’s still time; talk to your healthcare provider about ways you can try to flip your baby in the next few weeks. Some moms to be have good luck with acupuncture.

What Happens When Your Baby ‘Drops’?

Around now, the baby drops from around your rib cage to closer to your pelvis, as prep for making their entrance into the world. This exciting change is called dropping, engaging or “lightening.” This can happen anywhere from around 36 weeks to 38 weeks—or even later.

While lightening one of the signs that labor is approaching, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s imminent. It can still be weeks until you go into active labor—though for some people, baby drops right before they go into labor, particularly if it’s not their first baby.

Sometimes, it will be obvious that your baby has dropped, even so dramatic a difference that people may comment. But in some pregnancies, you may barely notice. A few ways you can tell:

  • You may breathe easier. Since baby is now sitting lower in your uterus, there will probably be less pressure on your diaphragm.
  • You may have to pee more often. Less pressure on your diaphragm means more pressure on your bladder.
  • Less heartburn. If you’ve experienced this pregnancy symptom, you’ll be happy to know that once your baby drops, heartburn should ease up, since your uterus won’t be pressing on your stomach quite as much.
  • You may waddle. Since your baby is now hanging out in your pelvic area, you may notice you walk a little differently (hi, penguin walk!), as your hips spread a bit to accommodate baby. You may experience twinges of pelvic pain and more pressure in the region.

💛 Congratulations 💛

You only have four weeks left!

36 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound


Your Body: 36 Weeks Pregnant Symptoms

The latter part of the third trimester brings with it a whole new world of symptoms. As your baby drops and gets ready to make their debut, your body is preparing too. Here’s what to expect when you’re 36 weeks pregnant.

  • Pelvic aches and pains: If your baby has dropped, you may start feeling pain in your pelvis—the technical term for this is “pelvic girdle pain.” As ligaments loosen and your baby puts more pressure on the pelvis, many pregnant people get really uncomfortable. If you have access to a pool, try swimming or lounging in it to relieve some of the pressure.
  • Change in stride: Baby’s descent can also create the telltale pregnancy waddle. A wider pelvis means a wider stance, so your gait may change dramatically. At 36 weeks pregnant, it’s time to embrace your inner penguin.
  • Vaginal discharge: Regular ol’ discharge can increase at 36 weeks but keep an eye out for anything that looks different from usual. Blood or a watery discharge warrant a call to the doc—the water could actually be amniotic fluid. If it’s mucus (which is sometimes blood-tinged), it could be the mucus plug, which most commonly is lost after 37 weeks. Losing the mucus plug is not a big deal, but it is a sign you’ll go into labor soon. (Also “soon” is as close as we can get to estimating—it could be hours or weeks!)
  • Trouble sleeping: A good night’s sleep in late pregnancy can be hard to come by. Your belly is big, and you’re uncomfortable. You may be dealing with heartburn, leg cramps or nasal congestion. And you keep getting up to pee. Some moms-to-be say they’re just awake at night. The story goes that these sleepless nights are nature’s way of getting ready to have a newborn—we all know baby sleep happens in short cycles. Not that that helps when you’re up at 2 a.m.

Pregnancy Hormones: What Will Change

For the past eight months, almost every ache, pain and symptom you’ve had could be chalked up to pregnancy hormones. So now that you’re heading into the home stretch, what’s next?

The good news is after you give birth, some pregnancy symptoms could go away almost immediately—things like swelling and pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel. But the reality is that your hormones will change yet again when your baby arrives, and they’ll be pretty haywire for six to eight weeks after delivery—even longer if you breastfeed.

Progesterone will drop immediately, and estrogen will spike, causing lots of fun new symptoms like fatigue, hair loss, anxiety, the baby blues and, in some women, postpartum depression. Prolactin, the hormone responsible for breast milk production, can slow metabolism and cause moodiness and fatigue too.

We’re not trying to scare you! All of this is important to know so that A) You don’t freak out when clumps of hair come off in the shower. It will grow back. B) You understand that it’s okay and even necessary to ask for help. And C) Because anyone could be affected by postpartum depression—in fact 1 in 7 moms is. If you find that your blues linger more than two weeks after delivery, or your feelings are intense, talk to your healthcare provider immediately. There’s no shame in it, and know that you’re not alone.

Your Life at 36 Weeks Pregnant

The weeks are ticking by, and you might be feeling more pregnant than ever. Even as you prepare to meet your baby, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Remember: you got this.

  • Top tip: Schedule a last pre-baby hurrah with friends. It might be a bit before you can chat with your friends without a million-and-one infant interruptions. Enjoy their company, and know that eventually, there will be many more hangouts to look forward to—with and without your baby.
  • Good for your bod: Whether you know it or not, your body is already priming itself for the upcoming delivery. But a few gentle movements each day can also help. Pause for a cat-cow stretch and butterfly stretch to help relax your pelvis. Deep squats, with flat feet and your bottom hovering a few inches above the floor, helps widen your pelvic opening.
  • Thinking ahead: If you have any events coming up in the first few weeks after your due date (think birthdays, anniversaries, bridal showers), you can buy gifts or write cards now. Or not. It’s okay to put yourself first. Prioritize the most important occasions and pass on the rest.
  • Family matters: Nearby family members and good friends are eager to support the new parents in their lives. When they offer to help, let them! One of the easiest and most effective things they can do is bring food in the weeks after your delivery. Create a schedule—or better yet, ask one of them to do so—to benefit from fresh or frozen meals most days.

Home Stretch! Have Everything You Need?

With Babylist, you can easily add any item from any store onto ONE registry. You’ll also get a Hello Baby Box full of free (amazing!) goodies and a 15% registry completion discount on almost everything in the Babylist store.

Your 36 Weeks Pregnant Belly

How’s that baby bump treating you? At this point, you may feel like you’re a walking belly. Your total weight gain probably is close to what you were aiming for (25 to 35 pounds is the average), and youmay be tired from hauling that extra weight around on the daily. You’ll probably only gain about a half-pound each week from here on out.

36 Weeks Pregnant Baby Bumps from Real Moms

36 weeks pregnant first baby nicolecangiano321

36 weeks pregnant belly baby boy @naybrizotti

36 weeks pregnant belly @memywifeandmycat

36 weeks pregnant pictures @nickellabian

36 weeks pregnant bump picture @la in ny

36 weeks 6 days pregnant @cheyennearlenee

36 weeks 5 days pregnant @withkrissyrae

36 weeks 3 days pregnant  @emktsab

36 weeks pregnant pictures jackelynlynamphoto 36weekspregnant2

Top Tip for 36 Weeks Pregnant

Try not to stress about getting a nanny or a daycare. Half of Babylist parents said it took them more than four months to feel comfortable with their childcare, but nearly 70 percent said they ultimately found the best possible childcare for their family. Those are pretty good odds.

Do you think this content is helpful? Let our editors know!

36 Weeks Pregnant Checklist

  • Mark your calendar! Starting at 36 weeks pregnant, your doctor will want to see you every week.
  • Add the finishing touches to your nursery.
  • Finish packing your hospital bag, if you haven’t already. Here are some ideas on what to bring along—and what you can leave home.
  • Plan a last pre-baby date with your BFF or closest friend group.
This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Babylist may earn compensation from affiliate links in this content. Learn more about how we write Babylist content and the Babylist Health Advisory Board.