What to expect week by week as you head into the final stretch of your pregnancy.
You’re getting ever closer to that big day! In these last few weeks of your pregnancy, make sure you have everything ready to welcome your new baby. Shop for all the essentials, from bibs to bassinet. Properly install a newborn car seat for the ride home from the hospital. Certified technicians at your local fire station or police department can help if you’re not sure how to place it in your car correctly.
Here’s a look at what’s happening with your baby – and your body – this month.
Weeks 29 - 30
Your baby continues to plump up, as fat fills in the former wrinkles in her skin. By now she can suck her thumb and open and close her eyes. Her eyes are able to see, but her vision still isn’t very clear. At birth, she’ll be able to focus only on things – and people – a few inches from her face. Mobiles and rattles with high-contrast colors (like black, white, and red) make good first toys, because they’re easiest for babies to see.
Your more cumbersome body is only one of the discomforts you’ll experience in your last trimester. Heartburn, constipation, and hemorrhoids can all haunt you in this final stretch of your pregnancy. Continue eating lots of fiber. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will keep you more regular — and they’ll help your baby grow big and strong. Don’t let your increased girth keep you away from the treadmill or walking path. You still need to stay active. Exercise will help keep your bowels moving, too.
Your baby now weighs in at close to 3 pounds, and measures over 15 inches in length — about the size of a large acorn squash. She continues to gain weight at a rapid pace, and will more than double her current size by the time you welcome her into the world. You should really feel her movements now, and you might even see an elbow or knee pop up from your belly! Get to know her movements, and report any significant slowing to your doctor. Your baby’s brain, lungs, and muscles are also growing and maturing. Soon, they’ll be ready for life on the outside!
Weeks 31 - 32
At this late stage of your pregnancy, you might notice a few contractions. Chances are these aren’t the real things, but rather the “practice” contractions known as Braxton Hicks. You can tell the difference by the frequency and duration. Braxton Hicks contractions come infrequently, last for varying periods of time, and shouldn’t be painful. If the contractions start coming steadily or painfully, call your doctor. You might be in true labor.
As your uterus grows and pushes up on your ribcage, you might find it harder to catch your breath. In a few weeks, your baby will “drop” lower into your pelvis, and you’ll breathe much easier. You might also feel more tired now, both from the effort of carrying around your growing baby, and because it’s harder to find a comfortable sleep position. If you feel exhausted, ask your health care provider for advice on getting more rest. You need it now.
Your belly isn’t the only part of you that’s growing. As your joints loosen, your feet may enlarge too – growing a half-size or more. Upsize your shoes to give your feet more room. They’ll likely stay this size permanently. Looser joints, plus a shift in your center of gravity, can set you off-balance. Be careful on snow and other slippery surfaces, and avoid any activities (like bike riding or rollerblading) that could lead to a fall.
Your baby now weighs over 4 pounds and has reached 16 inches in length. His skeleton, toenails, and fingernails have formed. The soft hair called lanugo that once covered his body has started to disappear, although some babies still carry vestiges of this furry coat at birth. By week 32, he should be sliding into the head-down position from which he’ll be born. If he hasn’t made the move yet, don’t worry. There’s still time for him to shift position.
What to remember
If you haven’t already started thinking about your birth plan, now is a good time to make some decisions. What kind of pain relief do you want during labor? An epidural? Natural childbirth? Which family members and friends do you want in the room? Do you want to rely solely on the hospital’s medical staff, or would you prefer to have a doula by your side to offer comfort and support? Make sure your partner is on board with your birth plan.
August 10, 2017
Janet O’Dell, RN