Just 4 weeks to go! If your baby was feeling a little impatient and decided to say hello now, chances are they would have no difficulty in functioning just as well as baby born on, or after, their due date. However, a baby born at 36 weeks is still classed as being premature so in most cases a consultant-led birth would be necessary, rather than a Midwife-led birth.
Are you showing off that famous pregnancy waddle yet when you take a walk? That could mean Baby is starting to drop into the pelvis, which is normal at this point (don't worry, it doesn't mean he or she will come flying out immediately!). The feeling of heaviness and pressure in the pelvis makes some Moms-to-be walk like they've just spent the past few hours horseback riding! Embrace it!
Baby: What's Happening?
Your baby weighs about 6 lbs and although he or she may not arrive for another 4-6 weeks, your baby is already starting to form their very first "number 2"! It may sound gross now, but trust me, all Moms become desensitized to their baby's fluids and excretions very quickly!
As the vernix caseosa and fine lanugo hair that's been covering your baby's body for the past few months begins to shed in earnest, it becomes a part of the amniotic fluid. After all, there's nowhere else for it to go. As Baby swallows the fluid, these waste products begin to build up and will eventually make their way out as meconium. Meconium is the name for your baby's first, or first few, bowel movements. They're a bit different to normal excretions, with a black color and a sticky, tar-like texture.
Your baby is pretty much perfect now, although the brain, lungs, nervous system and digestive system are going through some fine tuning. Your baby's senses are all heightening, too, with hearing, touch and taste in particular all becoming clearer for Baby. Remember, Baby can probably recognize your voice, so do lots of talking, reading and singing to your bump!
You: What's Happening?
It's all about your cervix now, as some massive changes could start to happen this week. Even though you may not go into labor for another month, your cervix could start to thin out and maybe even dilate from any point now. While you probably won't notice any small dilation, you could see some symptoms as the cervix thins.
A small amount of pink blood is completely normal as the cervix changes, although this can be a very scary experience. A few spots of light blood is generally nothing to worry about, although any bright red blood should be checked out. If blood is mixed with a snot-like substance, there's a chance this could be your "bloody show", or your mucous plug dislodging. That's a true sign of labor so be alert!
If your baby does start to engage into the pelvis, you'll certainly know about it! You'll feel much less of your baby's body high up by the ribs, but may feel like you've got a melon between your legs! If you've been suffering with rib pain and shortness of breath you may find this reduces as Baby moves away from your diaphragm, and many women report feeling much more energetic after this happens.
Depending on your employer's maternity policy, you may want to think about resting up now. Many Moms-to-be who have the option of taking some time off before the baby is born do so from about 36 weeks, giving them a month to relax, prepare and attend all the antenatal appointments which become even more frequent during the final few weeks of pregnancy.
Workaholics may wonder what to do with themselves with some much free time, but it really is a good idea to slow down. A good way to fill the days is to dig out the recipe books and do some easy cooking and baking. Making up some simple pasta dishes or things like curries and stews that can be frozen is very handy and great preparation for those first few weeks with a baby.
With your baby needing constant attention, feeding and changing, finding time to whip something up in the kitchen can be difficult, but it's important to eat plenty of nutritious meals as a new Mom, especially if you're breastfeeding. Having your ready-prepared favorites in the freezer that can simply be thrown into the oven will make mealtimes much less stressful.