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Pregnancy 101: Weeks 33 to 36

Pregnancy weeks 33-36

The Home Stretch

 When you can count the weeks left until your due date on the fingers of one hand, but your “To Do” list just gets longer and longer…

Sound familiar? Don’t worry: it’s not unusual to feel unprepared — or, let’s face it, downright stressed out — in the last weeks leading up to your due date. There’s even a term for the mad rush that many women feel in the final stages of pregnancy to get everything set up for their newborn’s arrival: the nesting instinct.

And as long as you’re not overdoing things, embrace it! This could be your last chance to get things done in (relative) calm, before the chaos of life with a newborn descends!

Need To Know

Between 35-37 weeks, it’s recommended that all pregnant women are screened for group B streptococcus (GBS): a type of bacteria that many people carry in their gut, which in rare cases can cause serious problems for newborn babies if they come into contact with it during birth. If your results come back positive for GBS, you’ll be given antibiotics during your labor, which drastically reduces the risk of your baby becoming ill.

As your due date gets nearer, you may notice that your baby has dropped lower into your pelvis, in preparation for delivery. Some babies (especially first babies) drop, or engage, a month or more before birth; others don’t engage until you’re already in labor.

Do you know the early signs of labor? In addition to your baby dropping, you may notice stronger, more frequent Braxton Hicks contractions in the weeks leading up to your baby’s birth. Some women also pass a jelly-like or slightly bloody mucus plug up to a week or two before labor begins, which is a sign that your cervix is starting to soften and widen in preparation for delivery.

Good To Have

Even before you pass your mucus plug, it’s normal to notice increased vaginal discharge in the final weeks and months of pregnancy. If it’s bothering you, try using pads or panty-liners: unscented, organic cotton ones are best to avoid irritation, and you can even buy washable reusable liners if you’re worried about the environmental impact of disposables.

Here’s one must-have that you’ll almost certainly already own: a cell phone. You’ll want to keep yours charged and with you at all times now that you’re nearing your due date, just in case of an emergency.

At around six pounds in weight and 18 inches long, your baby is rapidly running out of room in there! And you might be feeling a little tight on space, too. If you’re finding that you’re filling up quickly at mealtimes, eating healthy snacks, like yogurt and muesli or apples and PB, little and often might be a better way to keep your body fueled in the final weeks of your pregnancy.

Time To Do

 It’s a good idea to have your hospital bag packed and ready to go by the time you hit 36 weeks. Try searching online for a printable checklist of things to include, and make sure to check out this blog post on 7 Hospital Bag Essentials: from maternity pads to granny panties!

Preparing for the big day isn’t just about what you pack: you’ll also need to make sure that you have all the necessary arrangements in place for when you go into labor. Keep the car fueled up and ready to go, make sure that you have childcare in place for any older children, and have important contact numbers like that of your birth partner, midwife and delivery unit to hand.

Even if you’ve bought all new, washing your baby’s clothes before they wear them is a must. Store-bought clothes have often been treated with chemicals to keep them looking and smelling fresh during storage and shipping, and even hand-me-downs may have been sitting in an attic or a garage for several years. Use unscented detergent and include an extra rinse cycle to avoid irritating delicate newborn skin.

One of our members’ top tips for the final weeks before your baby’s birth is to stock up on food and essentials like diapers, wipes and toiletries, so that you don’t need to keep running to the store with your newborn. You can make healthy, hearty meals like chili, curries, soups, stews and sauces in big batches, and then freeze in individual portions to have once your baby arrives.

How Many Names To Take To The Hospital?

Your bag’s packed. Your car’s fueled up and ready to go. You’ve got the delivery suite on speed-dial. But have you decided on a final baby name — or names — to take to the hospital yet?

Some people settle on a full name for their little one weeks, or even months, in advance; others prefer to wait until the baby is born before making the final decision. There’s no right or wrong approach, but here’s our advice: know thyself.

Are you easily flustered or unflappable? Impulsive or intuitive? Head or heart? If the former words best describe you (or your partner), you might find it less stressful to make a decision in advance, or at least narrow it down significantly to two or three top contenders. If the latter applies, you might enjoy the element of mystery in keeping a longlist of favorites in mind, and going with what feels “right” on the day. Your call!

Go to Weeks 37 to 42.

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