36 Weeks Pregnant
From week 36 of pregnancy until delivery, you will most likely be having weekly checkups. Now is a good time to ask your doctor what his or her plan is if you miss your due date: Will they induce, wait, or will it be up to you?
Your doctor will likely perform an internal exam to determine if cervical effacement (thinning of the cervix) or dilation (opening of the cervix) has begun. The medical checkup will also probably include the following:
- Blood pressure
- Uterus size
- Doppler ultrasound
- Group B Streptococcus test (GBS)
By now, most women will have gained 25 to 35 pounds over their pre-pregnancy weight. However, in the last month of pregnancy, mothers should gain very little or no weight.
Your doctor will still be looking for any changes in your blood pressure that can indicate a problem (see Preeclampsia or High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy).
Your urine will be tested for:
- Protein, which can be a sign of high blood pressure
- Sugar, which can be a sign of gestational diabetes.
Your uterus will now have grown 1,000 times its original volume and will be located right under the ribs.
Your doctor will check your baby's heartbeat for strength, rate, and location, which will tell your doctor a lot about your baby's health.
Group B Streptococcus Test (GBS)
At this visit, your doctor is likely to test you for group B streptococcus (referred to as "Group B Strep," or just GBS). GBS is an infection that is carried in 10 to 35 percent of all adults. It is harmless unless it is passed from the mother to the baby during delivery, where it can cause:
- Meningitis (an inflammation of the brain or spinal cord)
- Bacterial bloodstream infections
- Infant pneumonia
The risk of giving this infection to a baby is greatest if:
- The child is born prematurely
- The mother's water breaks early
- There is a long delay between the time the water breaks and the baby's birth.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that physicians give the test only to women who are at risk for passing GBS on to their baby. Women who are considered at risk include those with:
- A history of pre-term labor
- A history of premature rupture of the membranes
- A history of a low-birth weight babies.
On the other hand, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would like to see all pregnant women screened for GBS. Therefore, women who are pregnant should talk to their healthcare providers about GBS.
Testing for GBS is simple and painless. In order to screen for GBS, your doctor will rub a cotton-tipped swab over your vaginal and rectal areas and then send the swab to a lab for processing. If the results are positive, you will receive antibiotics during labor and delivery, which will prevent the baby from becoming infected.