31 Weeks Pregnant: Your Checklist
- Start looking into childcare options. Whether you’re considering a nanny, day care, or care from a relative, start considering your choices now. Even if you’re not going to need full-time care, you may want to gather a few babysitter recommendations for special occasions.
- If you happen to have a prenatal appointment this week, and you’re considering air travel, you should ask whether you can fly at this point in your pregnancy. You can also read about travel during pregnancy for more helpful pointers.
At 31 weeks pregnant, development of your baby’s major organs and body parts is largely complete, and she’ll gain weight rapidly during the final leg of your pregnancy. This week, your baby weighs about 3.3 pounds and is between 16 and 17 inches long. Her taste buds have started to develop, and her eyes are open. You may start experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions, which are practice contractions that help prepare for labor. At 31 weeks pregnant, you’ve entered approximately the seventh month of pregnancy, and you’re well into the third trimester, so your excitement might be growing now that there’s not long to go. Find out what else is happening this week of pregnancy.
Your Baby’s Development
Your baby is peeing several cups of urine a day into the amniotic fluid. He or she is also swallowing amniotic fluid, which is replaced completely several times a day.
Too much fluid in the amniotic sac (polyhydramnios) could mean that the baby isn’t swallowing normally or that there’s a gastrointestinal obstruction. Not enough fluid in the amniotic sac (oligohydramnios) could mean that the baby isn’t peeing properly, which could indicate a problem with the kidneys or urinary tract. Your health care provider will measure your levels of amniotic fluid as part of your routine ultrasound.
Have you decided whether to breastfeed or formula feed your baby? Experts recommend breast milk as the best form of infant nutrition, but the decision about how to feed your baby is a personal one. Talk to your health care provider or a lactation consultant if you need more information before making your choice.
The milk glands in your breasts may have started to make colostrum by now. Colostrum is the pre-milk that provides your baby with calories and nutrients for the first few days before your milk comes in (if you plan to breastfeed). For some women, it is thin and watery. For others, it is thick and yellowish. If you notice your breasts leaking colostrum, you can buy disposable or washable breast pads to protect your clothing.
Pregnancy symptoms at 31 weeks
You may feel a little breathless during these last few weeks before your baby’s birth. This happens because your uterus has grown so large it presses up against your diaphragm, the large flat muscle across your middle that helps you to breathe.
This breathlessness will continue until your baby drops down into your pelvis. This happens at about 36 weeks for first pregnancies and perhaps not until birth if you’re already a mum. If you’ve been exercising throughout your pregnancy, gentle exercise may help your breathlessness now.
However, if you haven’t been focusing on keeping fit, exercise may just make you feel more breathless. So listen to your body. It’ll tell you when to take things easy.
Is your bump giving you back ache? Try not lift anything heavy, as it will put a strain on your softened ligaments. This can be hard if you’re already a mum to a toddler. Your midwife or a physiotherapist can supply a maternity belt which supports your back.
It’s normal to experience hip pain as pregnancy progresses. In your pelvis, the ligaments may loosen so much that it affects the joint where your pelvic bones hold together. This loosening may result in symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD), which is very painful.
If you have SPD, rest regularly by sitting on a birth ball or by getting down on your hands and knees. This takes the weight of your baby off your pelvis and holds it in a stable position. Keep up with your pelvic floor exercises, too. Rest assured that having SPD shouldn’t cause you problems when you come to give birth.
How your life is changing
- If you and your partner are getting nervous about the big day, it may help to go over what you learned in your antenatal classes. Practice the breathing exercises you’ve learnt together.
- Why not run through which pain relief methods, if any, you’d be prepared to try and in what order. Will you be going straight for an epidural or are you planning to use gas and air for as long as possible? And what are your views on painkilling drugs such as pethidine, diamorphine and meptid?