36 weeks and 1 day pregnant
When scanned, this baby was lying with his back to his mother’s. This “back to back” position is common at this stage but becomes less so as the pregnancy continues. Your midwife will be able to feel for the position of your baby’s back from this point on.
You’re likely to begin your maternity leave around this time. This can be a relief, but also a time of mixed emotions.
Going on maternity leave is a significant pregnancy milestone.As you leave your working role, the reality of beginning your role as a mother may hit you – but you hopefully have a few more weeks to get used to the idea!
It can be a welcome respite to take it easy and not have to rush around in the mornings, and you’ll feel less tired by not having to travel. Although you need to take it easy, it’s worth planning some outings, as not having a routine can take some getting used to.
Although it’s good to stay in touch with colleagues, try not to fall into the trap of logging on to work emails or staying up to date with what’s happening at work. You might be worrying about losing some of your identity while you’re on maternity leave; this is a common feeling but you’ll find that before you know it your leave is over and you’re settled back into work again.
Try to enjoy this run-up to the birth and make the most of the time to get organized and prepare for your new arrival.
Engagement is the process by which your baby’s head moves through the pelvic brim and into the birth canal in preparation for birth, and this can occur any time in these final weeks, until the start of labour. In the last weeks of pregnancy, your midwife will palpate your abdomen to see if the head has started to engage.
The degree to which a baby’s head is engaged is measured in fifths. If three- or four-fifths of the head can be felt above the pubic bone, then the baby is not engaged. If only two-fifths of the head can be felt, then the baby is said to be fully engaged, and if just one-fifth is felt, the baby is recorded as being deeply engaged.
When your baby engages you will look and feel slightly different. If you’re experiencing discomfort in your pelvis and perineum, try to avoid standing for long periods of time.
Not engaged: The baby’s head has started to move into the pelvis, but more than three- or four-fifths can be felt above the pubic bone.
1. Your bump is high and facing forwards
2. Three- or four-fifths of head above pubic bone
Engaged: The baby has dropped into the pelvis in preparation for birth. This causes your bump to change position and shape.
1. Your bump is lower, relieving pressure on your ribs
2. Two-fifths of head above pubic bone
Will I feel different when my baby engages?
You will feel lighter, in that your breathing will be easier, with more room for your lungs to expand. Your abdomen may seem smaller, with your bump shifting down and forward, as your baby’s head enters the birth canal. With pressure on your bladder, you may need to urinate more. You may also experience some pelvic pain.