33 weeks pregnant: advice, symptoms, and what to expect


by Deborah Cicurel |

At 33 weeks pregnant, there are just 7 weeks left until your baby's due date and you're in month 8 of your pregnancy!

In this article: 

  • How big is my baby at 33 weeks pregnant?

  • What’s my baby doing at 33 weeks?

  • Common symptoms to look out for

  • What is my body doing at 33 weeks pregnant?

  • Things to think about this week

There's still some room for movement inside your growing bump, and at thirty-three weeks pregnant, your baby’s bones are hardening, so you might be experiencing some less than glamorous pregnancy symptoms.

How big is my baby at 33 weeks pregnant?

In keeping with all the fruit and vegetable analogies you’ve enjoyed over the last few months, your baby is now the size of a head of lettuce. This week, they will be between 16 and 17 inches in length and could grow another whole inch this week. They weigh over four pounds and will keep gaining around half a pound a week until the birth. The baby now takes up more space than the amniotic fluid inside your uterus, which is why some of the pokes or kicks may feel sharper than usual.

What’s my baby doing at 33 weeks?

Your baby’s bones are hardening this week, apart from the ones in their skull. They are not fused together yet so they can move and overlap, which makes it easier for them to squeeze through the birth canal (and explains why some babies are born with a slightly pointy head)! It will take until early adulthood for these bones to fuse entirely, so they can grow as the brain and other tissue grows during childhood.

Your foetus has all the characteristics of a real-life baby now, with their eyes even closing while they are asleep and opening when they are awake. The walls of your uterus are also thinning, meaning more light is getting through to your baby: they can even tell between day and night now.

Your baby also now has their own immune system: you’re passing antibodies to them as it keeps developing, helping them fight off germs once they're born.

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1) Brittle nails

Yup, blame those ever-present pregnancy hormones, which can cause your nails to become brittle. Eat lots of avocados, nuts and bananas to make sure you’re getting enough biotin in your diet.

What is my body doing at 33 weeks pregnant?

If you are suffering from vulval varicosities try putting a small pillow under your bottom when lying down, or elevating the bottom of your bed. Avoid straining when you’re doing a number two – and if it still hurts, place some folded toilet paper or a sanitary pad in your hand and hold gently against the vulva whilst your bowels are moving. Thankfully, these painful veins should clear up around a month after the birth.

Things to think about this week: 

It might not be as appealing as a girls’ weekend in the spa, but a simple daily massage of the area between your vagina and anus (AKA the perineum) can really help prevent tearing, protect you from needing an episiotomy and promote speedier healing of the area after the birth. Make sure your hands are clean and don’t do this if you have anything like thrush or herpes. Here’s a how-to guide for how to do this safely and effectively.

  • Sit in a semi-reclined position with your knees bent and your legs apart. Lubricate your fingers, thumbs, and perineal area with vitamin E oil (from punctured vitamin E capsules), pure vegetable oil, or personal lubricant. Don't use baby oil, mineral oil, or petroleum jelly.

  • Place one or both thumbs (about half their length) inside your vagina. Press down toward the rectum and toward the sides at the same time. Gently and firmly continue stretching until you feel a slight burn or tingling. Hold this stretch for about two minutes.

  • Slowly and softly massage the lower part of the vagina back and forth in a U shape, and apply pressure downwards and sideways.

  • Finally, massage the tissue between the thumb and forefinger back and forth for about a minute.

  • Be gentle – you don’t want to bruise or hurt yourself (the area is definitely delicate!). During the massage, avoid pressure on the urethra (urinary opening) as this can lead to irritation or infection.

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