Picture and Explanation of How Your Baby is Growing and Developing at 36 Weeks Pregnant
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
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.
This picture is sold as part of a set of 7 charts in the Growing Uterus Charts available in our Bookstore. To buy the set, click here for more details.
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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 11/7/2007