31 Weeks Pregnant

This is a week of fast weight gain for both mom and the baby. With mostly mature body systems by now, baby can open and close their eyes at this week in pregnancy as well as receive signals from all other senses.

Each week is bringing you closer to your delivery, and with this comes an increased sense of anticipation.  It’s normal to be nervous, just make sure to share your feelings with a supportive friend or loved one.

Continue to use these quiet days to finish tying up those loose ends. Your desire to prepare and nest may be starting (though it often doesn’t until days before delivery for some women) and you may want to shop, get baby’s laundry washed and even pack a hospital bag.  It’s certainly quite early for a trip to the hospital, and if your labor started now, your baby would require a high level of care for many weeks.

Baby’s Development

Still gaining that ½ pound per week average, your baby is near it’s delivery length at around 18 inches. Weighing in at 3 ½ pounds these last several weeks are essential to baby’s growth while he or she packs on at least another 3 to 5 pounds .

The baby’s lungs are developed and they are able to inflate and deflate as your baby practices breathing motions. Not really needed until after delivery, lung tissue is beginning to secrete surfactant—a necessary agent for elasticity and lung flexibility. Babies born with too little surfactant often suffer from stiffness, and respiratory difficulties.

Baby’s  hearing is now 100% completed and can hear sounds and voices clearly inside the womb. The skin is pink at this stage of pregnancy and won’t change too much in color before birth. The baby’s bones are hardening nicely and they will still need all of the calcium they can get before they are born, so mom’s diet is especially important now.

Now able to urinate, a baby may produce about a half a liter of urine every day. Your baby’s well-being may be assessed through the use of a biophysical profile sometime between now and your due date.  Fetal breathing, non-stress test results, amniotic fluid levels and other indicators can tell your doctor how your baby is tolerating life inside.

Changes With Your Body

Your weight gain is estimated at 21 and 27 pounds. It is entirely possible that you have gained more weight. The majority of you weight gain is comprised of  the baby’s weight, placenta, extra blood,  water, the uterus and amniotic fluid. The ligaments and muscles and supporting the back are becoming relaxed and loose to prepare for childbirth. By now, you will notice a change in your breast size as they prepare for lactation, so make sure that you have a supportive bra.

Some women may begin to leak colostrum early during their pregnancy, while others never leak at all. No matter what your body does, it does not mean you cannot successfully breast feed.

Some moms-to-be will experience Braxton-Hicks contractions. Some women feel these contractions back in the second trimester, and others never have them at all.  These painless, irregular contractions have sent many women to the hospital sure they were in labor only to be sent home. If you think you are having contractions, make sure to contact your doctor and follow their orders.

What To Expect

At this week of pregnancy, the baby is taking a significant amount of  nutrients from the food that you are eating. Try to keep taking in healthy foods as long as possible.  If you have not given up smoking, it is not too late. The ultimate idea is to quit right away. Increasing fatigue will make sleep more challenging and you may find yourself craving a nap during the day.  If possible try to sneak one in when you can.

You will continue to experience frequent urination until the baby is born. Normally, this wouldn’t be difficult but if you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep then the constant getting up and down can be frustrating.

Be patient with all of these changes—they will be over soon enough.

Tips/Advice

This may be a good week to handle the paperwork process for maternity leave.  If you haven’t already discussed the issue with your supervisor or human resources department, make sure to do so.  If you need to cut back on hours, talk with your boss openly and modify your job requirements if there is a significant amount of standing or lifting involved.


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