This week, your bump is visibly moving and you may be feeling hot under the collar. Here’s everything else you need to know about your baby and your body at 31 weeks.
How big is my baby at 31 weeks?
Your baby now measures over 16 inches long and weighs about three and a third pounds, and is well on her way towards a growth spurt. She’s about the size of a coconut, and is growing steadily.
What’s my baby doing at 31 weeks?
Your foetus is more baby-like than ever: She can turn her head from side to side, and is moving a lot, to the extent she may be keeping you up at night. She’s also extremely lively – wriggling, stretching and kicking so much now that you might even see your bump move, especially when you’re relaxing in the bath. However, there are more defined patterns of movement and rest, as a result of your baby sleeping for longer stretches of time.
There’s also plenty of fat accumulating under her skin, helping her arms, legs and body plump up. Your baby’s digestive system, liver, kidneys and pancreas are functioning.
Your baby’s brain is also working at the speed of light, developing faster than ever, and making tons of connections between individual nerve cells. She can now perceive signals from all her senses, although obviously she won’t be able to smell anything until she leaves the amniotic fluid that has been her home and breathes her first gulp of fresh air.
In the meantime, just as you’re preparing your home for your new arrival, your baby’s practising for life in the outside world, making faces, breathing, swallowing, hiccuping and even sucking her thumb.
What is my body doing at 31 weeks?
Been feeling a lot clammier recently? Well, due to your increased blood flow, your body sweats more as a way of cooling you down. Nice! Make sure you keep well hydrated with lots of cold water.
If you feel numbness or pins and needles in your fingers, especially your thumb and first two fingers, this is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It’s a result of fluid retention in your carpal tunnel – which is a structure in your wrist housing your nerves, tendons and ligaments.
You’re due for another antenatal appointment around now, too, so bring up any issues, worries or questions with your midwife.
If you’ve been feeling the muscles in your uterus tightening from time to time then don’t rush to hospital – you’re probably having harmless Braxton Hicks contractions. These should be quite random, won’t hurt and can last around 30 seconds.
However, if they’re frequent contractions, say more than four in an hour (even if they’re not painful), you notice a change in your discharge (for example, if they're more watery, contain more mucus or are bloody in any way), suffer from cramping, abdominal pain or an increase in pelvic pressure or lower back pain, call your GP or midwife, as these could be signs of premature labour.
Common symptoms to look out for:
- Shortness of breath: Finding it hard to catch your breath? Yup, it’s pregnancy’s fault again. As your uterus pushes on your internal organs, your lungs feel crowded and it’s harder for them to expand fully, meaning you might experience an unpleasant or uncomfortable feeling of shortness of breath. This may improve towards the end of your pregnancy, when your baby drops lower in preparation for delivery. Sleeping on your side may give your lungs more space to breathe in the meantime.
- Backaches: Your growing belly can impact your back, as it will have to curve to accommodate the new weight. Try to attend some prenatal yoga classes to protect your back and relax your mind.
- Headaches: It’s those pesky hormones again that might cause you to have headaches, as well as pregnancy fatigue. To get rid of migraines or tension headaches, take 15 minutes to lie in a quiet, dark room, or put an icepack on your forehead or the back of your neck while you relax. Don’t take any medication before checking with your doctor first.
What to do this week:
- Think about the birth plan: Start thinking about pain medication during labour. You don’t have to decide yet, but it’s good to be prepared and understand all the options, whether you know you want pain relief, you’re sure you don’t, or you’re happy to wait and see how you feel on the day. You could sign up for a childbirth education class with your partner, where you can learn all about medical pain relief such as epidurals, as well as drug-free approaches such as breathing techniques.
- Start packing! You should also start thinking about what to pack in your hospital bag. Preparing in advance means all you have to do is leave the bag by the door, and if your baby arrives earlier than expected, you’ll have one less thing to worry about when rushing to the hospital! Luckily for you, we've got a handy downloadable list for you to tick off here.
Read more, the 2017 Mother & Baby award winning pushchairs: