Picture and Explanation of How Your Baby is Growing and Developing at 36 Weeks Pregnant

 picture 36 weeks pregnant
36 weeks pregnant larger picture view larger picture
36 weeks pregnant picture

Source: The Growing Uterus Charts,
© 1985, 2006 Childbirth Conection

By the end of the 36th week of pregnancy, the enlarged uterus almost fills the abdominal cavity, despite the fact that the cavity is greatly expanded by the stretching of its front and side walls. The well-developed, plump baby, in the membranous sac within the uterus, lies wholly within the abdominal cavity, with the abdominal muscles supporting much of its weight. During this week, the fundus is at the tip of the xiphoid cartilage of the breastbone, which is shown pushed forward. The liver, transverse colon, stomach, and spleen (which is behind the upper portion of the stomach) are crowded into the vault of the abdominal cavity. The small intestines are crowded above, behind, and to the sides of the uterus. The diaphragm is pressed upward, reducing the vertical diameter of the chest cavity sometimes as much as 4 centimeters; to compensate, the space on the side, front, and back of this cavity increases. The capacity of the chest cavity is not diminished. This displacement of the diaphragm changes the position of the heart, and the increased blood volume may cause the heart to dilate slightly.

Although there is an increase in the amount of blood pumped from the heart per minute and in the amount of air respired per minute, the change in the position of the heart and the upward pressure of the diaphragm probably account for the difficult breathing and the smothered feeling you may experience during this week. The crowding of the stomach and intestines contributes to the discomfort after eating.

The cervix is long, thick, and filled with the mucous plug. By the 36th week, the vagina and urethra are elongated and all the tissues in the perineal region are enlarged, so the swollen perineum projects beyond the pelvic outlet in the last weeks of pregnancy, and is readily expandable during labor.

pregnancy at term internal
> Next
Pregnancy at Term (Internal)
Most recent page update: 6/4/2013

© 2016 National Partnership for Women & Families. All rights reserved.

Founded in 1918, Childbirth Connection has joined forces with and become a core program of the National Partnership for Women & Families. Together, these two women's health powerhouses are transforming maternity care in the United States.
News and Features
Featured Resource

Check out our resource, "Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing: Evidence and Implications for Women, Babies, and Maternity Care"
Read more

Special Announcement

Childbirth Connection has joined forces with and become a core program of the National Partnership for Women & Families.
Read more

Our Vision

We want all women and babies receive the best possible maternity care.
Play video

Get Involved

Read our 2020 Vision, Blueprint for Action, blog and more
Sign up for email updates
Find us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Support us