Understanding your pregnancy: Week 31

Understanding your pregnancy: Week 31

A quick snapshot

This can be a special time in your pregnancy. You won't be so big that moving around has become too challenging just yet, but it's obvious to everyone that you are pregnant. This comes with some special privileges, especially if you are around other parents. Even if you don't feel as if you qualify for special consideration now, the day will come when you will be grateful for it.

If you're feeling a little ho hum, why not treat yourself to a massage, a trip to the beautician, a weekend away or a movie? Give yourself permission to invest some time into yourself and don't feel guilty if you aren't focusing on the baby every minute of the day.

What’s changing in your body

  • Many women develop stretch marks in the third trimester though little can be done to stop them forming. Try to watch your weight gain and aim to stick within the total recommended 10-12kg range. You'll find it so much easier to return to your pre-pregnancy weight if you have not had an excessive pregnancy gain.
  • You could notice yourself becoming short of breath now, especially if you are rushing about. Try to watch your posture and give your lungs as much room to inflate as they can. It's getting crowded in your tummy now but the simple act of sitting up straight and pulling back your shoulders can give a much needed couple of extra centimetres to your mid-region.
  • Colostrum, the yellowish-clear early milk, could be leaking from your breasts this week. Some women need to wear a nursing pad inside their bra on some days.
  • Your body's iron stores could be depleting now, so it's very important you do what you can to boost them. Your body needs Vitamin C to help it absorb dietary iron. So have plenty of fresh fruit and juice as well when you are trying to increase your iron intake. Red meat, green leafy vegetables, good quality cereals, dried fruits and legumes are all good sources of iron.

How your emotions are affected

  • Labour day is getting closer so a little apprehension is normal and healthy. But if you are consumed by anxiety or dreading your delivery, you will need to speak with someone. Fear causes a surge of cortisol; the stress hormone, to circulate within your body. A little is good, but too much, for too long can lead to stress-related health issues. Your doctor will have suggestions on how you can reduce your anxiety.
  • You'll start to imagine what life will be like after the baby is born, build hopes for the sort of parent you want to be and develop your own ideas on how you want to care for your baby.
  • You may feel confused about all the contradictory information available to you. Filtering what applies to you and what will work for your family is difficult but unfortunately, this is not a short term issue. The birth of a baby brings about a time of peak confusion for a lot of parents as it is during this period when their desire to everything just right is at its highest.

How your baby is growing

Third Trimester: Week 31Pregnant -lady -wk -31-closeup

  • Your baby is getting longer with each passing day. It is around 46cm this week, only 7cm less than the average length of a baby born at term. Your baby is gaining more weight now than it is increasing in length.
  • Your baby is spending long periods of time in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
  • You baby will have more brain and complex nerve activity this week. The connections or synapses in your baby's brain are forming by the millions and are helped by the stimulation they receive in their insulated little world. Your voice, household noise, filtered light, movement and music will all help these vital connections to form.

Tips for the week

  • Your prenatal appointments will increase in frequency from now on. It is likely you'll need to see your doctor monthly to assess your baby's growth and your progress. Important information is gathered at every visit and it is crucial not to let too much time lapse between them.
  • Stock up on fresh fish. Omega-3 fatty acids will directly impact your baby's brain and eye health, so eat more oily fish like sardines, salmon and prawns. Aim to eat a handful of nuts every day and don't shy away from butter, margarine and even a little cream.
  • If you have a desk job or spend long hours sitting, make a plan to move every hour. Getting up and going for a walk will help your lower limbs push your blood back through your general circulation. Aim to walk for exercise every day as well. Try to include a hill or two and increase your pace to get your heart rate going a little higher.
  • Become aware of your baby's kick pattern. Unless it's been recommended, you don't need to keep a kick chart. But a general awareness of your baby's movements and activity is a good thing to have. That way, if there is an overall decrease you'll be alert to it.
  • Mark your due date on your pregnancy calendar and compare your experiences with the information they give.