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36 Week Ultrasound: What to Expect

last year5 min read
Last updated: Jan 20 2023

Well, well—if it isn’t the nine month mark. You’re so close to the finish line!

36 Week Ultrasound

Yep, it’s almost time to meet your little one—and your healthcare provider may suggest a 36 week ultrasound before you do. Consider it one last glimpse into life on the inside. (Bonus: 36 week ultrasound pictures will give you a good sneak peak at the little face you’ll meet in a few weeks!)

In this article: 📝

  • What happens at a 36 week growth scan?
  • What is the 36 week ultrasound for?

Here’s what you might expect.

What happens at a 36 week growth scan?

By this point, you will have likely had two ultrasounds—the dating scan around the 12 week mark, and an anatomy scan at about the 20 week mark. Depending on how your pregnancy has gone so far, your doctor may suggest an additional ultrasound at 36 weeks to check growth and development.

There has also been recent discussion of whether 36 week ultrasounds should be routine for everyone. Studies have suggested that a late term scan can pick up abnormalities that weren’t visible on the 20 week scan. This extra knowledge might help doctors prepare for complications after birth.

But that doesn’t mean that they’re necessary for everyone. This study suggests that in low risk pregnancies, a scan towards the end of the third trimester is not necessary as a routine procedure.

That being said, it can be really beneficial if your doctor is monitoring you for specific reasons.

And can we just take a moment to acknowledge that this can feel unsettling and anxiety-inducing and confusing. Why do they want a scan now?

Take a deep breath. ❤️ Your doctor just wants to do what they can to get you and your baby ready for birth and to make sure that you are both as healthy as possible. If you’re feeling stressed, reach out to your friends, family, and the Peanut community. You seriously don’t have to do this alone.

What is the 36 week ultrasound for?

A scan may be useful at this point to check if your baby is:

  • Very small or very big. At this point, your baby should be about 18.7 inches long and about 5.8 pounds. If your baby measures much smaller or bigger than that, a growth ultrasound at 36 weeks might affect how you approach the end of pregnancy and labor.

  • In a position to take on the world. By this point, your baby should have their head down and their bottom up. If this is not the case, don’t worry. Your doctor will discuss the options with you. About three babies in every hundred stay in the breech position, and a late scan may help doctors get ahead of the game.

  • Stocked up on amniotic fluid. That’s the fluid that surrounds and protects your baby and gives them the freedom to move around in your uterus. If your amniotic fluid is low later in pregnancy, your doctor may want to monitor it through ultrasounds to decide on the safest course of action.

  • Getting the blood flow they need from the placenta. The placenta is the organ that develops during your pregnancy to protect and nourish your baby. Some health conditions like diabetes and hypertension can cause placental insufficiency, where the placenta can’t deliver enough nutrients and oxygen to the baby. Ultrasounds can help monitor this so that you get the treatment you need.

What do they do at your 36 week appointment?

Other things that your healthcare provider might do at your appointment?

  • Check your blood pressure and weight.

  • Take a urine or blood sample, if they’re monitoring you or your baby for specific health conditions.

  • Screen you for group B streptococcus (GBS). This is a bacteria commonly found in the vagina, bladder, and rectum. It’s so common that about one in four pregnant women carry it. It’s pretty harmless to you, but about one in every 2000 babies can develop an infection if the bacteria is passed on to them.

The test is painless and involves a quick cotton-tipped swab in your vagina and rectum. If they find anything, they’ll probably pop you on an IV of antibiotics during labor.

All pregnancies are different. There’s no one way to do this. If it is recommended, a 36 week ultrasound might be a good way to get you prepped for the next part of this beautiful, big journey you’re on.

Good luck, mama! You’re almost there!

💡 More from The 411:
First Trimester Ultrasound: What to Expect
What to Expect at Your 7 Week Ultrasound
8-Week Ultrasound: What to Expect
12 Week Ultrasound: What to Expect
16 Week Ultrasound: What to Expect
What to Expect at Your 20 Week Ultrasound
30 Week Ultrasound: What to Expect
40 Week Ultrasound: Key Facts
Nuchal Translucency Ultrasound: What You Need to Know
All You Need to Know About the 3D Ultrasound

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