36 weeks: False labor begins in earnest {pregnancy update}

Can you believe it?  I can’t.  Just 4 weeks left until this little guy is due to make his appearance.  The thought is exciting and terrifying at the same time.  I’m looking forward to meeting and holding him, and I’m looking forward to my back not hurting – but I’m not ready to think about labor just yet.  Almost, but not quite yet.  It still sounds more like pain than relief when I let myself imagine what it will be like, or remember how it has been in the past.

I’m hopeful that it will be somewhat less dramatic than the last time.  A nice, straightforward LOA presentation would be nice, with an average sized head and no baby arms raised over the head, and the midwife present and accounted for.  I’ll admit I’m a little nervous by the recent accounts I’ve seen of babies born face first (did you know those moms had to dilate to 13.5 cm. instead of 10???)  I don’t want a notch like that in my birth belt.

Of course I don’t get to choose how it all goes and I’ll be thankful to hold my baby on the outside when it’s all said and done, no matter how it goes.  But can you blame me for hoping?

In the meantime, false labor has started in earnest.  I know the proper name is Braxton Hicks, but these contractions are a step up from the barely noticeable variety that I’ve been having for 3 or 4 months.  These are enough to make me wait if I was just about to stand up, or to make me slow down considerably if I was walking.  Like Braxton Hicks, they come nearly around the clock.  They are enough to make me breathe long slow breaths, though I don’t really need to.  It’s just a reflex.  I hope my body is doing a little prep work and I can go into labor with a headstart, like those ladies who are dilated to 5 cm. without knowing, but I doubt it.  They are enough to remind me that the real thing will be here soon, and enough to make me almost look forward to it.

And now that I am almost looking forward to labor, it make me wonder if there’s any chance I’ll go early.  I don’t think so, since I never have delivered more than a couple of days early.  But I wonder because I do tend to deliver about 2 weeks after I get that “baby will be here any time” feeling, and labor is very much on my mind already.  Does that count?  I seem to recall that I spend a good deal of time second-guessing myself before I really start counting, so the obvious answer is no.  I’m not in the 2 week window yet, and I already knew that.  But will I know when it starts, or will it only be obvious in retrospect?

Have you noticed any patterns in yourself or others that helps you predict when a baby will arrive?

Belly pics:

Just for fun, I had PerryBoy take this morning’s belly pic in the dress I wore to Deanna’s wedding.  It’s actually not quite as red as it looks in this pic – it was a little more maroon.

I know some of you have been very kind in recent weeks and told me I don’t look very big, but just the other day a grocery checker asked me how far along I was.  “Eight months,” I answered.  Her eyes widened, and she sounded serious:  “You look a lot closer, like you could go anytime.  That baby is pretty low.”

Baby at 36 weeks:

  • Baby continues to gain about 1/2 lb per week.
  • Kidneys and liver are now processing waste products; only lungs need to mature now.
  • The baby’s body is becoming chubby as fat layers build.
  • more
Your turn:
How are you and your little one this week?  What’s new?  Share a pic!
Previous pregnancy updates:


  1. I’m 35 weeks and have had a fair share of false labor so far this time. With my first, I never noticed a single contraction until the day I had him, so this is new to me. It was made more interesting by having a GI flu last week, which dehydrated me and kicked those contractions into overdrive. So, a few days later, we were up to 30 secs 5 mins apart all day, and my midwife had me go in to get monitored and checked. I was dilated to 1cm, but not really progressing so they sent me home. After a couple days of taking it easy and re-hydrating, the contractions are back to occasional and almost unnoticeable. It was a little disappointing to go home empty-armed after the half-panicked trip to the hospital, but obviously for the best for Baby to stay in until term. 🙂

  2. …false labor is very often connected with dehydration~ so please up your water, Mama! =)

    • Adrienne,
      My midwife reminds me of that too, but I’m careful to drink at least 3-4 quarts of water each day, plus a quart of milk. I think I’m plenty hydrated!
      I’ve heard that Braxton Hicks also become stronger when you’ve had more pregnancies, and I have certainly noticed that. I just chalk it up to having an extremely experienced uterus. 🙂

  3. Hi there! I’m 35 weeks (according to ultrasound 36) and it’s been so much fun to read along with you! I kind of feel the same way, I am looking forward to meeting this little baby (and finding out if it’s a boy or girl!!!!) but then again I’m not ready yet to think about pain! With my first 2 kids my labor’s have been pretty fast, but still very painful. Oh well, still some weeks to surrender it all 🙂 I wanted to send you a picture of my big belly but where do I send it to? Have a blessed week! Sam

    • Sam,
      You can post a link to your photo here in the comments if it’s already on the web somewhere. If you just wanted to send it to me alone, use the contact form to email me and I’ll email back.
      Maybe you already know this, but in general labor gets a little easier each time so your third will very possibly be faster and less painful than the first two. Still hurts plenty, but maybe not as much. 🙂

  4. I hope your last few weeks go smoothly! I think you look great, for what it’s worth..I don’t feel like I’m all that smaller, and I’m only 24ish weeks with my 4th. I’m trying not to think about labour yet either..my labours tend to be fast (my last two were 2 and 3 hours) but very intense. But I have quite a while before I need to start thinking about it.

  5. I’m nervous about false labor in my pregnancy–thanks for reminding me 😛

    Like you are having, I’ve had false labor for about 4 weeks before delivery with both my boys. With ds1, I had no noticeably contractions, but I did manage to dilate to 6cm before my midwife gave up waiting for me to go on my own and induced me.

    With ds2, I had false labor for a month. That involved no dilation, but it did involve contractions every 5 minutes for the full month. And I had to breathe through about half of them.

  6. Face first after many many many sunnyside up baby’s and one breech born before we could even get to the hospital, (and my sunnyside up baby’s were easier then my one normal presentaion baby)
    Then came the twins A normal presentaion baby, then came B transversed after A and then 45 minutes and a smaller baby she came out face first but I only had to dialte to 11 as she was preterm, all this happened right as they were about to crash me because her placenta abrupted. In the end I should have been a c-section being my ONLY hospital delivery (minus the one on route as she was preterm)

    • Christina, that’s quite a record! I’m thankful most of mine are less exciting, but I have to admit the exciting ones do make for good stories in the years to come!

  7. If it is 13.5 inches for face up, what would it be for a frank breech presentation??? My 3rd was a frank breech, and he was hands down my hardest delivery even though he was one of my smallest babies.

    • Sara,
      I’ve read that with a frank breech the mom only has to dilate to 10 cm. like a normal head down delivery. I’m not clear on why they tend to be harder – maybe because the baby’s bum doesn’t mold to momma’s shape like his head would?

  8. I had face up baby and it surely did hurt more. And it took an hour to get the big 9 lb 7 oz boy out! But it was soooooo worth it! He will be 8 in two days. 🙂

  9. I am four weeks from delivering, also! I can’t wait to see who goes first. 😉 😉 It’s been fun to follow along with you.

  10. My first was sunny side up and it was….not fun. She was finally born with the assistance of forceps and a lot of damage was done (to me, not her!) My second was facing the floor like a good little boy and it was a much easier labor and delivery Hoping this one (I was due two days ago!) cooperates too!

  11. I had a face presentation with my second baby. No wonder it hurt so bad!

  12. 13.5 inches? Well, I certainly didn’t know that, but it seems like my midwife ought to have. Instead of giving me time to feel like pushing (with my sunny side up baby), I ended up in OR for an emergency section. Now I’m even more mad than I was! She kept telling me to push. I kept saying I don’t feel like I’m ready for that yet. I have never been so annoyed in my life. That information is just about 4 months too late. I guess I’ll get over it. Eventually.

    On a happier note, you look beautiful, and I can’t wait to see your newest baby!

    • Cindy,
      Maybe I wasn’t clear – it’s 13.5 cm. for a baby born face first, not face up. As in, baby’s lips come out first! Not at all common, an automatic transfer with many mdiwives, and an automatic c-section in any hospital, but it does happen that way every once in a great while. I think with a baby presenting face up, mom has to dilate to something like 11.5 cm? Just saw the figures recently, but can’t quite recall. It’s a much harder job than face down, but nothing like face first. I’m sure google would tell.

Don't just think it: say it!

%d bloggers like this: