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36 weeks pregnant: What to expect

Your baby at 36 weeks pregnant

Your baby is the size of a head of romaine lettuce (length: 18.6-19”; weight: 2.6kg)

How sweet the sound. Studies show that newborns prefer the sound of their mother's voice over other voices. Research has also found that newborns show a preference for a song that was played to them repeatedly while they were in the uterus. It's not too late to start: pick a time each day to play a beloved CD or tape, sing your favourite song or read your baby a story.

The incredible, shapeable skull. Your baby's head is specially designed to travel through your cervix and pelvis. The bones in your little one’s skull aren't fused together yet; this loose construction facilitates his or her trip down the birth canal without harming baby or you. These bones will gradually fuse over the first year of life.

Measuring up. Your little one weighs between 5.5 and 6 pounds this week and measures nearly 19 inches.

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Your pregnancy at 36 weeks

Step up the check-ups. Most clinics will want to see a first time mum weekly starting at 36 weeks. They will also check your blood pressure during each visit and make sure your urine doesn't contain any protein. High blood pressure and protein in the urine are potential warning signs of preeclampsia, a condition of pregnancy that can be risky to you and the baby.

Living large. Your uterus is now one thousand times larger than its original volume and you’ve probably gained 25 to 30 pounds. But don’t worry: over the next four weeks, it's likely you'll only gain a few more pounds. In fact, many women gain nothing at all in their last month of pregnancy. Your uterus may not be the only thing expanding. Even if edema (the medical term for swelling caused by excess fluid) hasn't troubled you up to now, you may retain more fluid in the last month of pregnancy.

Take it easy now. Whenever you can, take a few minutes to rest with your feet elevated or lie on your left side. Both positions will increase circulation, getting the fluid in your extremities moving. A note of caution: reducing your fluid intake will not reduce edema. You still need plenty of water each day to clear waste through the kidneys, move your bowels and keep your blood volume up.

Did you know? All systems are a “go”…except baby’s digestion. Because your little one has been nourished through the umbilical cord, the stomach and intestines have not yet been operational. The digestive system will get up to speed in the months after birth.

Quick tip for mum: Am I in labour? If you’re noticing an occasional tightening or “balling up” of your uterus, more than likely it’s Braxton-Hicks contractions. These “practice” contractions are pre-labour rehearsals for the real thing and will stop if you change position, drink fluids, or take a warm bath.

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