This week you’re 36 weeks pregnant with twins, and over half of twin pregnancies deliver before 37 weeks. Symptoms during this time in pregnancy include insomnia and fatigue, muscle cramps, the feeling of the babies “dropping,” and possibly losing your mucus plug. As you’re nearing the end of pregnancy, it’s important know the labor signs to watch out for, which include strong and regular contractions and your water breaking. If you notice bleeding from the vagina, severe pain, severe or sudden swelling, or less fetal movement than usual, call your doctor right away. During this time, your baby’s bones have hardened, their circulatory systems have developed, and their vernix caseosa has thickened.
You’ve made it to (almost) the end of your twin pregnancy! At 36 weeks pregnant, you’re probably preparing for birth and getting the nursery ready to bring home your little ones. You may have signs of labor soon, and there are some symptoms you shouldn't ignore. Here's what you need to know about what's going on at 36 weeks pregnant.
It’s very possible that you could deliver soon, so it’s a good idea to have your hospital bag packed and ready to go.
You are likely going in for frequent doctor visits so that your provider can monitor you and your babies’ health, and prepare you for the different signs of labor. Even though now is the time to prepare for your babies' arrival, try to also take time to relax and rest before delivery.
The discomforts of the final part of pregnancy, including back aches, muscle cramps, and itchy skin, could be keeping you up at night. You may be feeling worried or excited for delivery and meeting your babies as well, which can also make it difficult to relax and sleep. You may feel fatigued during the day if you aren’t sleeping well, and the added weight can also make you feel tired.
As your babies continue to grow and you carry more weight, your calves and leg muscles may cramp up. This could happen at any time, but it’s common for leg cramps to strike at night. Try stretching and massaging your legs for some relief.
In the final weeks of pregnancy, you may feel your babies drop further into your pelvis. You'll probably feel more pressure in your pelvis, which will also cause you to feel like you have to pee more often. When your babies move down, it may give your lungs more air to expand and you might be able to take deep breaths easier.
As your body approaches labor, your cervix will open and soften. When this happens, you might lose a collection of mucus at the cervix. It may come out altogether, or you may experience an increase in vaginal discharge as it comes out gradually. The mucus plug may be clear, pink, or have a streak of blood. Losing your mucus plug is a sign that your body is preparing for labor, although it may happen weeks before actual labor begins.
This week, your body might be getting ready for labor. Your cervix may begin to soften and dilate. Other signs of labor are regular contractions, back pain, and ruptured membranes. Here are some signs of labor to watch out for during this time.
When your body prepares to deliver your babies, your cervix will begin to efface (get thinner), and dilate (open). This could happen leading up to labor, or may begin when labor does.
If you're having regular contractions that are getting stronger, lasting longer, and getting closer together, it likely means you're in labor. These contractions are different from Braxton Hicks contractions, because they are consistent regardless of rest or what position you may be in. Your abdomen will harden during a contraction and soften in between a contraction. For many women, the contraction pain starts in the back and then wraps around to the front.
When your water breaks, it means the amniotic sac surrounding your baby, or babies, has ruptured. It may feel like water is trickling or leaking out of your vagina, or it may come out as a big, sudden gush. Your water breaking is a sign of labor, but it doesn’t always break early on in labor, so you can definitely be in labor even if it hasn't happened yet.
Since you're on high alert when it comes to "go time," here are some symptoms you'll want to be aware of.
Don’t ignore strong, regular contractions, or your water breaking. Regular contractions or your water breaking means that your body is in labor. You should contact your provider and let them know if your water breaks or how frequently your contractions are occurring. Be ready to come into the hospital and prepare for delivery.
Contact your provider if you have any bleeding from your vagina. It could be a sign of a problem with the placenta, and if you can’t get a hold of them, go to the hospital right away.
Severe pain can be a sign of a serious problem and should not be ignored, especially at the end of pregnancy. Let your provider know when and where you're experiencing the pain, and how intense it feels.
While swelling in pregnancy is normal, especially near the end of pregnancy, severe or sudden swelling can be a cause for concern. If you experience severe or sudden swelling, call your doctor since severe or sudden swelling can be a sign of preeclampsia. Other signs of preeclampsia are high blood pressure, headache, and blurry or impaired vision.
Pay attention to fetal movement and let your provider know quickly if you notice your babies are moving less throughout the day or night. It might not always be a cause for concern, but it’s important to let them know right away so they can see you and make sure there aren’t any problems.
More than half of twins are delivered early, or before 37 weeks of pregnancy. In fact, most are delivered around 36 weeks, but delivery any time before 37 weeks of pregnancy is considered preterm.
Babies born preterm are more likely to have complications and may need to spend time in the NICU, though this isn’t always the case. Preterm babies may have problems with breathing, eating, or regulating temperature. Preventing preterm labor is much more difficult with a twin pregnancy than a single pregnancy.
In some situations, your provider will want you to deliver early for the safety of both you and your babies. If your twins share a placenta or amniotic sac, have growth restrictions, or if they are experiencing twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, which is when one baby is receiving the blood flow of the other, your doctor may recommend an early delivery. If you develop preeclampsia, or other pregnancy complications, your provider will likely want to deliver you early and in many cases, via c-section.
The chance of needing a cesarean section is higher with twins, although it depends on a number of factors. Oftentimes, if both twins are positioned head down for the birth, or at least the lower twin, you can deliver vaginally. This will largely depend on the health of you and your babies. If your labor is not progressing or you or your babies have other problems during labor, a dropping fetal heart rate, you may need a cesarean section.
Your babies are continuing to gain weight and add fat to their bodies in utero, and you may start to notice that their limbs will look a little chubbier as time goes on. Their skin will continue to smooth out and be less wrinkly as they accumulate fat.
Your babies are likely positioned for birth now (but not always!), and this position will determine the type of birth you’ll have. If they are both head down, or if the lower twin is head down, you can likely deliver vaginally. Your delivery will depend on your provider and their experience, as well as your health. Possible positions for each baby include head down, breech (or head up), and transverse (or sideways).
Your babies’ bones have hardened, although their skull bones remain soft and flexible. The ability of the skull bones to remain flexible allow for their heads to pass through the birth canal. It will also allow for their heads to grow quickly in their first year of life. Their muscles are developed as well.
Your babies’ digestive systems are working now that you are 36 weeks. They swallow and process amniotic fluid and their first stool – a black, sticky, tar-like substance called meconium has formed in their intestines.
Your babies' circulatory systems have formed now, complete with a pumping heart and blood vessels that will carry blood from their heart, throughout their body, and back. Right now, their hearts have some openings, or connections, that help with their fetal blood circulation but the openings will close after birth.
At this time, the vernix caseosa, which is the white and waxy substance on your babies’ skin, thickens. When your babies are born, the vernix assists in them sliding through the birth canal. The most important function of the vernix is to keep the babies’ temperature regulated after birth.