Pregnancy Weeks 31 to 33
Hurray! You’re closing in on your seventh month of pregnancy. You probably feel a sense of relief that you are now in the home run stage of pregnancy. Right now, you might be starting to feel and maybe even look huge. This is because your baby is having a growth spurt — putting on weight every day. Here’s what else that’s happening during these weeks.
Your baby is now the size of a coconut. The lungs and nervous system are almost fully developed and your baby now has fingernails. Baby’s senses are also developing further, and they are now able to hear distinct sounds, including familiar voices such as yours and your partner’s, as well as music. In addition, their irises can react to light. Your baby will probably be kicking, punching and somersaulting a lot at this time, which might keep you awake at night. Take heart: all this movement means a healthy, active baby.
You may be experiencing one or more typical Trimester 3 symptoms such as breathlessness, frequent urination, heartburn, indigestion, backaches and Braxton Hicks contractions more acutely. Tip: drink plenty of water and change positions frequently to help ease Braxton Hicks contractions.
This might be the time your baby decides to adopt the head-down (cephalic) position in preparation for birth. However, don’t worry if this doesn’t happen this week — there’s still time. Your baby’s bones are starting to harden, except for the skull bones, which do not fuse together until some time after birth, allowing the baby to more easily travel through your birth canal.
When awake, your baby may be practicising how to breathe, swallow, suck and kick. Their digestive system is now fully formed. Babies born from this week onwards have a good chance of surviving and thriving, though they may need the help of a ventilator to breathe until their lungs develop more fully.
If you haven’t already started doing so, it’s time to start using “sensible” shoes. As baby is now growing fast and adding to your weight, your centre of gravity is now shifting, which may make it easier for you to trip and fall.
You might be experiencing increased vaginal discharge — your body’s way of preparing for the delivery of your baby. Contact your doctor immediately if the discharge becomes brown, bloody or very watery, as this might be a sign of impending labour.
Currently about the size of a pineapple, your baby’s skin has lost its wrinkled look as fat starts accumulating under it. As more light can now penetrate your womb (because the walls of your womb have become thinner and more stretched), your baby can begin differentiating night from day. By now, your baby has their own immune system and antibodies passed from you to your baby will help develop it further.
Your growing baby might be putting pressure on the largest nerve in your body, the sciatic nerve, causing backaches. To help ease the pain, take warm baths and when sleeping, place a pillow under your stomach and one between your legs. If you feel intense pain in your lower back, do see your doctor immediately as it might be a sign of premature labour.
Your ankles and feet may start swelling due to increasing pressure on the veins that feed these areas. If you experience this, prop your feet up above your heart level for at least 20 minutes at a time, 2 to 3 times daily. If the swelling is extreme, consult your doctor immediately as it may be a sign of pre-eclampsia.