Welcome to week 36 of pregnancy — officially the start of month 9.

Your soon-to-be infant is eavesdropping more these days, thanks to a newly sharp sense of hearing, and he may also be possibly dropping lower into your pelvis.

This final month may bring extra joint flexibility (and less ideally, pelvic pain) as loosening and softening hormones kick in ahead of labor.

Your Baby at Week 36

At a Glance

So cute!
So cute!
Your baby looks more like an infant this week, with chubby little legs and pink-tinted skin — even in babies of color because of the blood vessels just beneath the surface.
Bionic hearing
Bionic hearing
Your baby’s ears are extra sharp during these last few weeks. Studies show she may even recognize your voice and favorite songs after birth.
Baby may drop
Baby may drop
If this is your first birth, your baby may drop lower into your pelvis this week in what is called “lightening” or “dropping.”

36 weeks pregnant is how many months?

If you're 36 weeks pregnant, you're in month 9 of your pregnancy. Only a few weeks left to go! Still have questions? Here's some more information on how weeks, months and trimesters are broken down in pregnancy.

How big is my baby at 36 weeks? 

Forget your aching back — and everything else! — by trying to focus on your baby, who is now about 6 pounds and 18 to 19 inches long.

Growth will slow down in the coming weeks, both so your baby will be able to fit through the narrow passageway to the outside and so she can store up all the energy needed for delivery.

Fetal skull and bones

When you're 36 weeks pregnant, your baby's skull bones are not fused together yet so the head can easily (well, relatively easily) maneuver through the birth canal. 

Your baby's skull isn't the only soft structure in her little body. Most of her bones and cartilage are quite soft as well, allowing for an easier journey into the world during delivery. But don't worry — they'll harden over the first few years of her life.

Baby’s digestion still needs to catch up

By now, many of your baby's systems are pretty mature, at least in baby terms, and just about ready for life on the outside. Blood circulation, for instance, has been perfected and your baby's immune system has developed enough to protect your little one from infections outside the womb.

Others, however, still need a few finishing touches. Once such notable example: digestion — which actually won't be fully mature until sometime after birth.

Why? Inside her little gestational cocoon, your baby has relied on the umbilical cord for nutrition, meaning that the digestive system, though developed, hasn't been operational. It will take the first year or two to bring it up to speed.

Your Body at Week 36

baby size at 36 weeks pregnant

Pregnancy walk or waddle

Welcome to your last month of pregnancy! It's a good thing your baby's almost done cooking since your body may feel pretty "done" by now too.

For one thing, by 36 weeks pregnant, you're doing the penguin waddle many third trimester moms-to-be adopt. That new walk is not in your imagination; it's in your connective tissue, which those hormones are loosening and softening.

And that's particularly important now that you're nearing your due date. Your baby — who's grown quite large by this point — needs to fit through your pelvic bones, so it's good that they're more flexible at this stage. It's your body's way of getting ready to squeeze a big baby out of a small space.

Pelvic pain

The downside to all this joint flexibility, besides the resemblance you now bear to your feathered friends, is pelvic pain. Add the pressure from your baby's head burrowing deeper and deeper into your pelvis and your heavier uterus weighing you down, and it's no wonder it's a pain to walk around these days.

To relieve the discomfort, relax with your hips elevated, do some pelvic exercises, take warm baths, apply warm compresses, get a prenatal massage from a certified therapist or try some complementary and alternative therapies. A belly sling may be helpful too.

Baby drops ("lightening")

There is a happy upshot, believe it or not. As your baby drops into your pelvic cavity — and keep in mind that not all babies drop before labor begins — the upward pressure of the uterus on your diaphragm is relieved.

Once this "lightening," as it's known in the pregnancy business, strikes, you'll be able to take bigger and deeper breaths. Your stomach also won't be so squished anymore, making eating a full meal more comfortable.

Pregnancy Symptoms Week 36

Changes in fetal movement
Changes in fetal movement
Heartburn or indigestion
Heartburn or indigestion
Bloating and gas
Bloating and gas
More frequent urination
More frequent urination
Vaginal discharge streaked with blood
Vaginal discharge streaked with blood
Itchy belly
Itchy belly
Edema (swelling in feet and ankles)
Edema (swelling in feet and ankles)
Nesting instinct
Nesting instinct

Tips for You This Week

Note movement changes

Don’t be alarmed if your baby's movements have changed from sharp kicks or jabs to squirms. Your cutie has less room for calisthenics now.

You should still keep track of your baby's movements every day, though, so if you’re worried, try sipping a sugary beverage or eating a snack and then see if your baby perks up. Be sure to call your doctor if there's a change in fetal movement frequency or an unusual change in the pattern of baby's movements.

Learn about your mucus plug

Be prepared to lose your mucus plug, which will look like thick, yellow discharge tinged with blood. It can happen weeks, days or hours before labor begins.

There's no need for concern if your mucus plug dislodges well before your due date — it could still be a few weeks before labor actually starts.

And your baby is still safe even after you’re unplugged. In fact, your body continues to make cervical mucus to prevent infection, which means baby’s still snugly sealed off. So you can have sex, take a bath and otherwise go about your business as usual.

Prep your announcement

If you’re planning on sending out birth announcements, it’s a good idea to address all the envelopes or compile the email lists now. One less thing to do once baby arrives!

Get plenty of B6

Chase your protein with an adequate supply of pyridoxine. Never heard of it? It's the vitamin also known as B6, and its function is to help your body and baby use all that protein to do its cell-building job.

Think of it this way: If protein is the brick, B6 is the mortar. And B6 plays an especially big role in the development of baby’s brain and nervous system.

You'll find B6 in prenatal vitamins and foods like bananas, avocados, wheat germ, brown rice, bran, soybeans, oatmeal, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, watermelon and meat. See, there's overlap with your protein sources, making your job even easier.

Get your labor questions answered

If you feel uncomfortable or concerned about labor, it’s always best to call your health care provider and ask any questions you may have. Even if you make an unnecessary trip to the hospital or doctor’s office, you’d be far, far from the only person who’s done so.

Pre-labor can last for a few hours to a few days, weeks or even a month in some cases, and signs and symptoms can be different for every person (and every person’s pregnancy).

There are three phases of labor: early, active and transitional. The first of these stages is usually the longest. Thankfully, it’s also the least intense. It can last from a few hours to several weeks, often without any noticeable or bothersome contractions.

The second stage, or active labor, usually lasts a few hours. By this time, you’ll probably be in the hospital or birthing center, and your contractions will become stronger and longer (lasting about 40 to 60 seconds).

The third and last stage is called transitional labor, and it tends to be the most intense phase. It’s also the shortest, generally lasting from 15 minutes to an hour.

Get ready to track baby's feedings and diaper changes

Pretty soon, you'll have your beautiful baby in your arms, and a whole lot of new things to remember, like when the last feeding was, when it's time for a diaper change or how often to pump.

Luckily, there's an easy way to keep tabs on all that: an app baby tracker that lets you record breastfeeding, bottle-feeding and pumping sessions, as well as diaper changes, so you can stay organized and spot patterns, especially in those early sleep-deprived days of life with a newborn.

Prepare for a strep test

No, not the kind of strep that causes throat infections. During week 36 or 37, your doctor will test you for group B strep (GBS), a type of bacteria that's found in the vagina.

GBS bacteria is usually harmless to the many adults who carry it — and an estimated 1 in 4 pregnant women do, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — but it can cause a serious infection in a newborn during childbirth.

To test for GBS, your practitioner will take swabs of your vagina and rectum. If the results are positive, you'll be given antibiotics through an IV during labor, so there's little chance of you passing the infection to your baby.

From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You're Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.

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