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Weeks 34 to 36 of Your Pregnancy: Care Instructions

Fetal development at 36 weeks pregnant

Your Care Instructions

By now, your baby and your belly have grown quite large. It is almost time to give birth. Your baby's lungs are almost ready to breathe air. The bones in your baby's head are now firm enough to protect it, but soft enough to move down through the birth canal.

You may feel excited, happy, anxious, or scared. You may wonder how you will know if you are in labour or what to expect during labour. Try to be flexible in your expectations of the birth. Because each birth is different, there is no way to know exactly what childbirth will be like for you. This care sheet will help you know what to expect and how to prepare. This may make your childbirth easier.

If you haven't already had the Tdap shot during this pregnancy, talk to your doctor about getting it. It will help protect your newborn against pertussis infection.

In the 36th week, most women have a test for group B streptococcus (GBS). GBS is a common bacteria that can live in the vagina and rectum. It can make your baby sick after birth. If you test positive, you will get antibiotics during labour. The medicine will keep your baby from getting the bacteria.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Learn about pain relief choices

  • Pain is different for every woman. Talk with your doctor or midwife about your feelings about pain.
  • You can choose from several types of pain relief. These include medicine or breathing techniques, as well as comfort measures. You can use more than one option.
  • If you choose to have pain medicine during labour, talk to your doctor about your options. Some medicines lower anxiety and help with some of the pain. Others make your lower body numb so that you won't feel pain.
  • Be sure to tell your doctor or midwife about your pain medicine choice before you start labour or very early in your labour. You may be able to change your mind as labour progresses.
  • Rarely, a woman is put to sleep by medicine given through a mask or an IV.

Labour and delivery

  • The first stage of labour has three parts: early, active, and transition.
    • Most women have early labour at home. You can stay busy or rest, eat light snacks, drink clear fluids, and start counting contractions.
    • When talking during a contraction gets hard, you may be moving to active labour. During active labour, you should head for the hospital if you are not there already.
    • You are in active labour when contractions come every 3 to 4 minutes and last about 60 seconds. Your cervix is opening more rapidly.
    • If your water breaks, contractions will come faster and stronger.
    • During transition, your cervix is stretching, and contractions are coming more rapidly.
    • You may want to push, but your cervix might not be ready. Your doctor or midwife will tell you when to push.
  • The second stage starts when your cervix is completely opened and you are ready to push.
    • Contractions are very strong to push the baby down the birth canal.
    • You will feel the urge to push. You may feel like you need to have a bowel movement.
    • You may be coached to push with contractions. These contractions will be very strong, but you will not have them as often. You can get a little rest between contractions.
    • You may be emotional and irritable. You may not be aware of what is going on around you.
    • One last push, and your baby is born.
  • The third stage is when a few more contractions push out the placenta. This may take 30 minutes or less.
  • The fourth stage is the welcome recovery. You may feel overwhelmed with emotions and exhausted but alert. This is a good time to start breastfeeding.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.