By the time you're 36 weeks pregnant, your baby’s digestive system is ready for breast milk. Your growing bump may be putting extra pressure on your bladder at this stage, but it’s still important to drink enough water and stay hydrated. Learn how much you should aim to drink each day and how to tell if you need to up your fluid intake.
Your baby's development at 36 weeks
Ready to breathe in week 36
Measuring around 33cm from head to bottom, and weighing around 6lbs, your baby’s increasingly cramped quarters are likely to be limiting their movement somewhat at this stage. But when they do move, you may be able to identify a foot, elbow or other body part as they press towards the surface of your abdomen1.
While there is no set number of movements you should feel each day, you should be aware of your baby’s own patterns; perhaps they are more active after you have eaten, or when you sit down to relax at night. Every pregnancy is different, but if you notice a change in your baby’s movement patterns, let your midwife or hospital know.
Your baby is well prepared for life outside the womb now. All the thumb-sucking, breathing and swallowing they have been doing during pregnancy has given the muscles and organs involved in feeding and digestion good practice for their first feed of breastmilk. At 36 weeks, your baby is now ready to breathe air too, with their lungs fully formed and prepared to make the switch from taking in amniotic fluid to inhaling and exhaling air2.
Water of life: Pressure on the bladder in pregnancy
Due to your baby’s new position, they’ll press on your bladder more. This is why from week 36, you may feel the need to urinate more frequently. But because staying hydrated is so important, especially during pregnancy, avoid the temptation to drink less to reduce the amount of toilet trips you make.
You could try drinking a bit less just before bedtime to avoid disruption during the night, but remember to rehydrate more during the next day.
The European Food Safety Authority states that you should drink around 2.3 litres of water a day during pregnancy3. That’s about 9–10 250ml drinks per day.
This includes milk, soup, fruit juices and squash, as well as water. Also remember to drink more during hot weather or after physical activity.
The gift of future health
Why staying hydrated is important in pregnancy
Humans are made of around 60% water, and lose on average 2 litres per day. It’s important to replace this fluid to avoid dehydration and to enable your blood to carry nutrients around your body and get rid of waste effectively.
Drinking enough fluids will help keep your urinary tract healthy, as urinary tract infections are more common during pregnancy4.
Signs of dehydration
If you experience any of the following, you may be dehydrated5:
- Feeling thirsty
- Passing dark-coloured urine infrequently (less than 3 or 4 times a day)
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Dry mouth, lips and eyes
1. Deans A. Your New Pregnancy Bible, The experts’ guide to pregnancy and early parenthood. 4th ed. London: Carroll & Brown Publishers Limited, 2013. p. 47.
2. NHS UK. You and your baby at 33-36 weeks pregnant [Online]. 2015. Available at: www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pregnancy-weeks-33-34-35-36.aspx [Accessed September 2016]
3. European Food Safety Authority. Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for water. EFSA Journal 2010; 8(3):1459 p.48.
4. NCT. Infections during pregnancy [Online]. 2014. Available at: www.nct.org.uk/pregnancy/infection-pregnancy [Accessed September 2016]
5. NHS UK. Dehydration – Symptoms [Online]. 2015. Available at: www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Dehydration/Pages/Symptoms.aspx[Accessed September 2016]
6. NHS UK. Dehydration – Treatment [Online]. 2015. Available at: www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Dehydration/Pages/Treatment.aspx[Accessed September 2016]
Last reviewed: 9th September 2016
Questions about feeding and nutrition?
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