Pregnancy Calendar Week 36
YOUR PREGNANCY WEEK BY WEEK: WHAT’S HAPPENING IN WEEK 36
Here in the last weeks of pregnancy, your baby is still developing, growing and getting ready to come into the world soon. She’s now grown to about 6 pounds and 20 inches long. Pregnancy symptoms continue on for you, although many are similar to those you began experiencing early on (they’re just becoming a bit more intense). So, with changes for you and your little one less dramatic right now, we’re focusing a lot of what we share this week on something we feel passionate about: The benefits of breastfeeding.
At 36 weeks pregnant, you’ve progressed to a point where many pregnant women feel more gushing down below.
Increased Vaginal Discharge
As you get closer and closer to labor, you may be experiencing a heavier flow of vaginal discharge.This is quite common, so there’s no need to get worried. What you’re likely seeing is leukorrhea, the normal, thick, whitish or yellowish vaginal discharge brought on because of an increase in estrogen and more blood flow to the vaginal area.Right now, there’s nothing you can do to reduce the amount of your vaginal discharge. However, take note of these tips to help you through:
- Use panty liners to help with absorption.
- Don’t use tampons and don’t douche. Tampons and douching are unsafe during pregnancy.
- Keep your vaginal area clean and healthy by always wiping from front to back; avoiding tight pants/nylons and scented pads/toilet paper/bubble bath/hygiene sprays; and wearing cotton underwear.
If you notice an unusual smell or—or if you think you’re leaking amniotic fluid because it’s mostly a thin, clear discharge—call your doctor right away to talk about your symptoms.
This week we’re dedicating this section to something we think is really important for your baby – Breastfeeding.It’s often said that mother’s milk is nature’s perfect food. With all of the benefits that breastfeeding offers, it’s no wonder. From protecting against infection to higher intelligence, breastfeeding can give your baby major advantages in life.According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. Lean in and let’s take a look inside WHO’s “fact file” on breastfeeding and how it benefits you and your baby.
What WHO recommends
WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. At six months, solid foods, such as mashed fruits and vegetables, should be introduced to complement breastfeeding for up to two years or more. In addition:
- Breastfeeding should begin within one hour of birth.
- Breastfeeding should be “on demand,” as often as the child wants day and night.
- Bottles or pacifiers should be avoided.
Health benefits for infants
Breast milk is the ideal food for newborns and infants. It gives infants all the nutrients they need for healthy development. It is safe and contains antibodies that help protect infants from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea and pneumonia, the two primary causes of child mortality worldwide. Breast milk is readily available and affordable, which helps to ensure that infants get adequate nutrition.
Benefits for mothers
Breastfeeding also benefits mothers. Exclusive breastfeeding is associated with a natural (though not fail-safe) method of birth control (98% protection in the first six months after birth). It reduces risks of breast and ovarian cancer later in life, helps women return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster, and lowers rates of obesity.
Long-term benefits for children
Beyond the immediate benefits for children, breastfeeding contributes to a lifetime of good health. Adolescents and adults who were breastfed as babies are less likely to be overweight or obese. They are less likely to have type-2 diabetes and perform better in intelligence tests.
Why not infant formula?
Infant formula does not contain the antibodies found in breast milk. When infant formula is not properly prepared, there are risks arising from the use of unsafe water and unsterilized equipment or the potential presence of bacteria in powdered formula.Malnutrition can result from over-diluting formula to “stretch” supplies. While frequent feeding maintains breast milk supply, if formula is used but becomes unavailable, a return to breastfeeding may not be an option due to diminished breast milk production.
HIV and breastfeeding
An HIV-infected mother can pass the infection to her infant during pregnancy, delivery and through breastfeeding. Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs given to either the mother or HIV-exposed infant reduces the risk of transmission. Together, breastfeeding and ARVs have the potential to significantly improve infants’ chances of surviving while remaining HIV uninfected.WHO recommends that when HIV-infected mothers breastfeed, they should receive ARVs and follow WHO guidance for infant feeding.
Regulating breast milk substitutes
An international code to regulate the marketing of breast-milk substitutes was adopted in 1981. It calls for:
- All formula labels and information to state the benefits of breastfeeding and the health risks of substitutes.
- No promotion of breast-milk substitutes.
- No free samples of substitutes to be given to pregnant women, mothers or their families.
- No distribution of free or subsidized substitutes to health workers or facilities.
Support for mothers is essential
Breastfeeding has to be learned and many women encounter difficulties at the beginning. Nipple pain and fear that there is not enough milk to sustain the baby are common. Health facilities that support breastfeeding—by making trained breastfeeding counselors available to new mothers—encourage higher rates of the practice.To provide this support and improve care for mothers and newborns, there are “baby-friendly” facilities in about 152 countries thanks to the WHO-UNICEF Baby-friendly Hospital initiative.
Work and breastfeeding
Many mothers who return to work abandon breastfeeding partially or completely because they do not have sufficient time, or a place to breastfeed, express and store their milk. Mothers need a safe, clean and private place in or near their workplace to continue breastfeeding. Enabling conditions at work, such as paid maternity leave, part-time work arrangements, on-site crèches, facilities for expressing and storing breast milk, and breastfeeding breaks, can help.
The next step: phasing in solid food
To meet the growing needs of babies at six months of age, mashed solid foods should be introduced as a complement to continued breastfeeding. Foods for the baby can be specially prepared or modified from family meals. WHO notes that:
- Breastfeeding should not be decreased when starting on solids.
- Food should be given with a spoon or cup, not in a bottle.
- Food should be clean, safe and locally available.
- Ample time is needed for young children to learn to eat solid foods.
Click here to access a handy checklist of what you’ll need for breastfeeding.
Not planning to breastfeed?
If you’re not planning to breastfeed, look for the following in the formula you choose:
- DHA and ARA for brain nutrition
- No corn syrup or sweeteners
- The presence of oligosaccharides to nourish the best bacteria in the baby’s GI tract
- Hydrolyzed whey protein to decrease the risk of food allergies
Diet and Exercise Tips You Should Follow
To keep you and your baby healthy, follow these tips in week 36:
Maintain a healthy diet for breastfeeding success.
Although it can be tempting to splurge a little more as you near the end of your pregnancy, now is the time to stick with healthy eating habits to set up a strong foundation for breastfeeding. Plus, you and your baby still need proper nourishment every step of the way, so keep eating a well-balanced diet filled with lean meats, vegetables, fruits, seafood, whole grains, eggs and nuts.
Lighten up on your exercise routine.
From now until you deliver, cut back on any rigorous exercising you’re doing to help conserve your energy for labor. Light walking every day is a good routine, and it will help your baby descend lower into the birth canal. Take a walk with your partner tonight and talk about what you need to do before baby arrives.
Things You Should Do
- Pick up a book on breastfeeding to learn more and for how-to-help.
- Write a letter to your baby expressing the feelings you have anticipating her arrival soon. It’s sure to be one of your most treasured keepsakes—for you and your baby.
Words You Should Know
BabyQ’s special breastfeeding glossary:
Alveoli: Glands in the breast which produce milk.
Areola: Dark circular area surrounding the nipple on the breast.
Breast Infection: Inflammation of the breast usually resulting from a plugged duct left untreated or a cracked nipple.
Breast Massage: Hand massage of the breast used to facilitate letdown and expression of milk.
Breast Pump: A device used to express milk from the breasts.
Breast Shield (Milk Cup): A hard, round plastic device that’s worn in the bra before birth to correct inverted nipples. It forms a plastic tent over the areola. It encourages flat nipples to protrude during engorgement.
Colostrum: Thick, yellow or clear fluid secreted from breasts during pregnancy and the first few days postpartum before the onset of mature breast milk.
Duct System: A system of tubes through which milk flows from the point of production out to the nipple pores.
Engorgement: Swelling of the breasts that may cause discomfort. It’s common during the first week of breastfeeding and caused by vascular dilation and arrival of early milk.
Expression: Extracting milk from the breasts, either by hand or by using a breast pump.
Hand Expression: Removal of milk from the breast by manual manipulation.
Lactation: Breastfeeding; secretion of breast milk.
Lactation Consultant: A professional who’s trained to help mothers learn how to breastfeed their babies.
Leaking: The involuntary release of breast milk.
Mammary Gland: Breast; gland which secretes milk.
Milk Ejection Reflex: Reflex where milk is ejected from the alveoli through the milk ducts.
Nipple: Protruding part of the breast which extends and becomes firmer when stimulated.
Nipple Pore: Outside opening through which breast milk flows.
Nipple Shield: An artificial latex or silicone nipple used over the nipple during nursing.
Non-Nutritive Sucking: Sucking without swallowing.
Nutritive Sucking: Swallowing milk with each suckle.
Obstructed Duct: Blockage in a milk duct caused by accumulated milk or cast-off cells.
Suck: To draw fluid into the mouth by forming a partial vacuum with the lip and tongue.
Suckling: The entire process of breastfeeding, including sucking, compression of areola with jaws, seal with the lips, and the tongue massaging milk out of the sinuses.