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February 23, 2011

Your Pregnancy Week 36

How your baby's growing:  Your baby continues to grow and develop inside of you, measuring over 19 inches long, and weighing about 6 ½ lbs! During week 36, your baby's most important job is to keep putting on weight. Actually, that's his primary job from now until delivery.  You probably have another 4 weeks to go until delivery, especially if this is your first pregnancy, but "Full Term" refers to the period between 37-41 weeks, so your baby could be coming any time now! Your due date is probably a good guideline to determine when your little one is coming. Even though few women deliver on their actual due date, many women deliver in the days just before or after.

How your life's changing:  Now that your baby is taking up so much room, you may have trouble eating a normal-size meal. Smaller, more frequent meals are often easier to handle at this point. On the other hand, you may have less heartburn and have an easier time breathing when your baby starts to "drop" down into your pelvis. This process — called lightening — often happens a few weeks before labor if this is your first baby. (If you've given birth before, it probably won't happen before labor starts.) If your baby drops, you may also feel increased pressure in your lower abdomen, which may make walking increasingly uncomfortable, and you'll probably find that you have to pee even more frequently. If your baby is very low, you may feel lots of vaginal pressure and discomfort as well. Some women say it feels as though they're carrying a bowling ball between their legs! You might also notice that your Braxton Hicks contractions are more frequent now. Be sure to review the signs of labor with your practitioner and find out when she wants to hear from you. As a general rule, if you're full-term, your pregnancy is uncomplicated, and your water hasn't broken, she'll probably have you wait to come in until you've been having contractions that last for about a minute each, coming every five minutes for an hour. Of course, you'll want to call right away if you notice a decrease in your baby's activity or think you're leaking amniotic fluid, or if you have any vaginal bleeding, fever, a severe or persistent headache, constant abdominal pain, or vision changes.

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