Now that you're 31 weeks pregnant, your baby's brain is getting more sophisticated and he's more active than ever in there — pedaling his feet, sucking his thumb and practicing other important skills for the real world.
You may be running to the bathroom more frequently and feeling tired faster these days.
Your Baby at Week 31
At a Glance
31 weeks pregnant is how many months?
If you're 31 weeks pregnant, you're in month 7 of your pregnancy. Only 2 months left to go! Still have questions? Here's some more information on how weeks, months and trimesters are broken down in pregnancy.
How big is my baby at 31 weeks?
Weighing in at 3-plus pounds and measuring about 16 inches long, your baby is quickly approaching his birth length — though he's got to pack on another 3 to 5 pounds before delivery day.
Baby is sleeping more
He's putting in longer stretches of sleep, which is why you're probably noticing more defined patterns of wakefulness, movement and rest.
Baby's developing five senses
Your baby's brain is working overtime these days, developing faster than ever. Connections between individual nerve cells — he's got to make billions of them! — are being made at a super fast rate. He's now processing information, tracking light and perceiving signals from all five senses.
Sure, your baby may not be able to smell too much right now, though he likely can smell and taste different foods you eat through the amniotic fluid as well as catch a whiff of some beauty products you use (which also wind up in the amniotic fluid).
Lucky for you and your baby, yours will be one of the very first scents he breathes in, a scent that will quickly become his very favorite.
Pedaling his feet and sucking his thumb
So what's your little dove doing all day while you're busy feathering your nest for his arrival? Making faces, hiccupping, swallowing, breathing, pedaling with little hands and feet along your uterine wall, and even sucking his thumb. In fact, some babies suck their thumbs so vigorously while in the womb that they're born with a little blister on their thumbs!
Your Body at Week 31
Shortness of breath
So your stomach feels like it's in your chest and your lungs feel like... Hmmm... They don't even feel like they're there anymore, do they?
Movin' on up at 31 weeks pregnant, your uterus can now be felt about 4 inches above your belly button. This means that your uterus is pushing all the internal organs that used to be there somewhere else, crowding your diaphragm and lungs and making it more difficult for them to expand fully.
The result: Your body is spare on air and will be until your baby drops near the end of pregnancy in preparation for birth. While this shortness of breath may feel very uncomfortable to you, your baby is as happy as a clam because he’s getting his oxygen from the placenta.
That out-of-breath feeling may get better toward the end of your pregnancy, when your baby drops down into your pelvis in preparation for delivery. Until then, be sure to stand as straight as you can given the weight you're carrying around, eat smaller, evenly-spaced meals and sleep propped up on your left side so that your lungs have more space to... well, breathe.
How a baby responds to sex
Sex and orgasm can have an interesting effect on babies in the womb, as you may have noticed. Some are very quiet after their parents have sex — rocked to sleep by the rhythmic movement, perhaps — while others become frisky themselves (hey, where's the party?).
Both responses are completely normal and in no way indicate that your baby is aware of the goings-on...just that he's having fun going along for the ride.
So keep on enjoying your sex life as much as you like and for as long as you can — which, with your practitioner's approval and a few advanced Twister-type moves, can be right up until delivery day. Pretty soon, jumping into bed together with a baby in the house won't be quite so easy or convenient.
Pregnancy Symptoms Week 31
Tips for You This Week
Buying or registering for a crib set? Skip the bumpers. Cute as they may look, they pose a serious sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) risk. Ditto for pillows, stuffed animals and blankets.
Delivery day is getting close, so it's time to pack your hospital bag if you haven't already.
Along with necessities, you may want to stash these feel-good items inside: lip balm since your lips may become very dry, even before you start breathing heavily during labor; bands or scrunchies to keep your hair back; a brush for tangles (plus having someone brush your hair may feel relaxing); moisturizer; warm socks and slippers; mints; flip-flops (if your feet swell) and a warm robe.
They just might make your labor, delivery and overall stay more comfortable. Remember, don't bring or wear anything you really love, like your favorite PJs or that fancy negligee, since it may get lost or ruined. And check if you need to pack your hospital bag differently in light of COVID-19.
It may not be just pregnancy weight. If you notice sudden facial swelling, talk to your doctor.
Along with changes in vision and headaches, swelling can be a sign of preeclampsia, a disorder that generally develops late in pregnancy, after week 20. It’s characterized by a sudden onset of high blood pressure, severe swelling of the hands and face, and signs that some organs may not be working normally, including protein in the urine.
In case you haven't noticed, the heat's on when you're expecting, especially as you get bigger and bigger. But water keeps the body's cooling system running smoothly, even when your inner thermostat is on high, by dispersing excess heat in the form of sweat.
Plus, an ample flow of fluids keeps pregnancy fatigue in check — one of the first symptoms of dehydration is exhaustion — and headaches at bay.
What else can water do? It babies your skin when you've got that itchy and scratchy feeling. Water combats dry skin by keeping you hydrated from the inside out, leaving you almost as soft as your baby-to-be's bottom. More oily than dry and more pimply than smooth? Raise your water glass to a clearer complexion.
The best prescription for swollen feet and ankles isn't the most fashionable one: sensible, comfortable shoes that breathe and aren't too tight.
Don't have any that fit that description? That might be because your feet have spread so much that they've actually grown a half size or so — and pregnant feet tend to do that.
Get yourself to a shoe store — but do it at the end of the day, when your feet are at their puffiest. While you're at it, get a pair of elasticized slippers and wear them whenever you can get away with it. And be sure to have some flip-flops on hand for postpartum swelling of the feet and ankles, which can happen as the pregnancy fluids are leaving your body after you give birth.
You can also try support hose to relieve pregnancy swelling. No they’re not sexy, but they can be the difference between a swell day and a not-so-swell one. Put them on first thing in the morning, before your feet have a chance to puff up.
If you can't track down ones made for pregnancy, knee- or thigh-highs should do the trick. But avoid any that have uncomfortable elastic tops.
We know you’re not a fan of them, but varicose veins, or swollen blood vessels, are usually painless and harmless.
The reason they develop or get more pronounced during pregnancy is because you've got more blood pumping through your body, and your growing uterus is pressing against veins in the pelvic region, allowing all that extra blood to pool in your legs. Hormones only add to the problem by causing blood vessels to relax.
What to do? Some good varicose vein remedies: Exercise daily to improve circulation, take frequent breaks from sitting or standing, try not to gain too much weight, elevate your legs as often as possible, and sleep on your left side to relieve pressure on your main blood vessels.
Chances are, you’re carrying a lot of tension in your neck, especially now that you’re in the third trimester and your posture is off-kilter. The result can be, well, a pain in the neck.
One way to loosen your muscles and relax your mind: Do this easy stretch — anytime, anywhere. Start by tilting your head to one side, without raising your shoulders; try to melt them down the back instead. Hold for three seconds and exhale. Repeat on the other side.
Do this several times a day — at your desk, while you're waiting at your practitioner's office or in line at the post office.
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