At week 36 the baby is about 6 pounds and 20 inches long. Growth is taking place rapidly towards the end. Most babies born at week 36 will be able to go home with the mom and not have an extended hospital stay. It is better not to have your baby yet, but if it is born it should do great.
At week 36 we stop talking about preterm labor and the recommendations for when to go to the hospital change. When you start having regular contractions you should time them. Time from the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next. When the contractions become 3-5 minutes apart and are taking your breath away it is time to go to labor and delivery. If your water breaks, even if you are not contracting go in as well.
The group B strep (GBS) test will be done at week 36 if it was not done at week 35, sometimes people don’t have appointments right at 35 weeks. This is a Q-tip swab to the vagina and rectum looking for the presence of the bacteria group B strep. If you are positive don’t worry. This is not a disease or even an infection, 30% of people have this bacteria on their skin. GBS can make newborns sick so if you are a carrier we will give you antibiotics in labor so the baby does not pick it up as it is born.
At 36 week the baby should be head down (vertex). If it does not feel vertex on exam in ultrasound will be obtained to conform the position of the baby. If the ultrasound confirms that the baby is not head down that a conversation about options will take place. The options include a scheduled c-section or a version. A version is a procedure where the doctor moves the baby by pushing on the mom’s tummy.
At week 36 it is common to experience some of the “soft signs of labor”. These are signs that do not mean labor is eminent but rather that the body is starting to move towards delivery. You do not need to contact the office or go to the hospital for these signs. You are always welcome to call or be seen but these soft signs are nothing to be alarmed about. These include the baby dropping, increasing contractions, bloody show, and passage of the mucus plug. The mucus plug id often misunderstood. the mucus plug is n ot like a cork in the cervix. When the cervix starts to thin out (efface), it produces more mucous discharge. This discharge can accumulate in the back of the vagina and then pass all at ounce. This can be pretty impressive to look at. It does not mean labor is about to happen. With any of these soft signs, labor could be weeks away or right around the corner.