Weeks 34 to 36 of Your Pregnancy: Care Instructions

Fetus in uterus, with detail of development at 35 weeks pregnant


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

You may be feeling excited and happy at times—but also anxious or scared. You might wonder how you'll know if you're in labor or what to expect during labor. Try to be open and flexible in your expectations of the birth. Because each birth is different, there's no way to know exactly what childbirth will be like for you. Talk to your doctor or midwife about any concerns you have.

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, you'll probably have a test for group B streptococcus (GBS). GBS is a common type of 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 labor. The medicine will help 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 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 everyone. Talk with your doctor about your feelings about pain.
  • You can choose from several types of pain relief. These include medicine, breathing techniques, and comfort measures. You can use more than one option.
  • If you choose to have pain medicine during labor, 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 about your pain medicine choice before you start labor or very early in your labor. You may be able to change your mind as labor progresses.

Labor and delivery

  • The first stage of labor has three parts: early, active, and transition.
    • It's common to have early labor 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 labor. During active labor, you should head for the hospital if you aren't there already.
    • You are in active labor 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 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 probably 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 won't have them as often. You can get a little rest between contractions.
    • 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.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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