Yah! You are thirty-one weeks now. You may be ready to be done with this whole pregnancy thing, but your baby still needs a little more time in the womb before she will be ready to leave. You may be anxious to have your pre-pregnant body back, but it is early in your third trimester. You should still have time to prepare for your baby and read up on childbirth. In this week’s newsletter we are going to be discussing water births and birth positions. Water births are becoming very common and a popular birth choice for moms. Water can make labor more comfortable and ease the pain during contractions. Some moms choose to labor in the tub but don’t feel comfortable or do not have the option to give birth in the water.
Week 31 Pregnancy Symptoms
More Frequent Urination
Your uterus puts more pressure on your bladder in the third trimester, giving it less room to store urine. Cut down on the bathroom trips by double voiding: Pee, then when you’re done, pee again. That’ll make sure you’ve emptied your bladder completely.
If tension is twisting your head up in knots, try spending a few minutes in a dark, quiet room. If you’re at work, close your eyes and put your feet up for 15 minutes.
Your growing uterus is also putting pressure on your blood vessels, which along with pregnancy hormones and increased blood volume creates the perfect set-up for varicose veins. Take a walk (or even better, several) during the day, or make sure to get in some other form of low-key, circulation-boosting exercise.
Possible Nasal Congestion
As if a swollen belly, feet, and fingers weren’t enough, now you may be contending with swollen nasal passages, making for one stuffy feeling. You’ll get relief when you deliver, but until then saline sprays or nasal strips can help clear up the stuffiness. (Antihistamines and nasal sprays are usually off-limits, but check in with your practitioner for other recommendations).
Lower Abdominal Achiness
Blame that growing belly of yours again for those growing pains around your middle. The best thing to do? Yep, you know the drill: Get off your feet for a while.
That burgeoning belly can also do a number on your back as it curves to accommodate the load. If you haven’t already, now is the time to incorporate some prenatal yoga into your exercise routine – the stretches will relax your back (and your mind!).
Your shifting posture (not to mention your increasing girth) and lack of concentration (see below) may make you clumsier these days. Take it easy when you’re climbing into the shower or tub and roll up any area rugs that could trip you up at home.
Welcome to mommy (to-be) brain – a condition that’s a result of shrinking brain-cell volume in the third trimester (don’t worry – your brain cells go back to normal a few months after delivery). Don’t stress out about your foggy memory (stress just makes it worse). Write things down (or program them into your smart phone) and delegate responsibility (if possible).
This is another common third-trimester woe, caused by a constellation of other conditions, such as leg cramps, heartburn, frequent urination, and plain old anxiety (with a dash of pregnancy hormones). If tension keeps you tossing and turning all night, talk it out with friends (or other WTE members) or your partner during the day.
The baby is growing very rapidly and has reached 15 inches in length and weighs around 3 ½ to 4 pounds which is more than half of the size at birth. The baby continues developing a layer of fat under the skin and in the coming weeks the baby will put on a lot of weight. This week there is an incredible development in the baby’s lungs as they will be able to inflate properly from now onwards.
The lungs start producing surfactant from this week preventing the baby’s lungs from collapsing as the baby starts breathing smoothly after delivery. The fetal ear is completely developed from the inside as well as outside and the baby can hear your voice as well as other familiar voices before she/he is born. The baby’s skin is pink in color instead of red at this point.
The baby has well developed finger nails and might scratch itself in the womb. The baby’s bones are growing stronger and will require calcium to grow well. The baby is receiving all the nutrients through the placenta and the placental blood flow enables the baby to make urine. The baby urinates about half a liter of urine every day and the baby also swallows some of the amniotic fluid which is replaced a few times daily.
The amniotic fluid needs to be measured as a routine to detect any problems. If there is too much fluid in the amniotic sac it could indicate that the baby is not swallowing properly or having a gastrointestinal difficulty. If there is less fluid in the amniotic sac it could indicate that the baby is not urinating enough nor has a problem with its kidneys.
Cesarean delivery is sometimes a controversial topic among women. Try as you might you really sometimes have no control over the outcome of your labor and delivery. Certain times it may be necessary for your doctor to perform a cesarean section to ensure the safety and well being of you and your baby.
It’s best you prepare yourself for this even if you are a low risk for a cesarean. While most women would prefer a natural birth, there is always the small chance you may need an emergency cesarean. The best thing you can do in this case is arm yourself with information. We know many women who have had cesareans and report they are not as bad as people suggest. Many women sail through their recovery quite easily. In fact, some women prefer a cesarean to a natural delivery!
Patient choice cesarean delivery is an increasingly controversial topic. Some healthcare providers refer to this practice as cesarean delivery on maternal request. Some women feel that the risks of a vaginal birth outweigh those of a cesarean, while other simply prefer to have a cesarean because they feel they have more control over their deliver.
The fact of the matter is this… it is important you are involved in your health care and any decisions made about your delivery. You should educate yourself about the pros and cons of various delivery methods, and work with a healthcare provider that sees eye to eye with you when it comes to your labor and delivery. For some women this will mean opting for a midwife and giving birth naturally, while for others it may mean electing a cesarean delivery with their OB/GYN. Make sure you make an informed decision and one that will ultimately support the well being of you and your baby. At 31 weeks pregnant it is a good time to start discussing your birth plan with your physician.
Changes With Your Body
Your weight gain should be estimated at 21 and 27 pounds. It is entirely possible that you have gained more weight. The weight gain includes the baby’s weight, placenta, fat, water, the uterus and the 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 and they are preparing for lactation, so make sure that you have a supportive bra. You may notice that there is a creamy white discharge, this is called colostrums. This will last a few days or a week after the baby is born.
Some new moms to be will experience Braxton Hicks Contractions. Some women feel these contractions back in the second trimester. Don’t worry these are normal and they cannot affect the birth of the baby. Some women experience hemorrhoids are very common at this stage of pregnancy because of the pressure that baby puts on the rectum causing constipation.
Try to avoid standing in one spot for a long period of time. The hemorrhoids will disappear after the baby is born. Try to stay hydrated during the pregnancy, if you can avoid constipation you can avoid hemorrhoids. Try taking a warm bath with baking soda; this will help alleviate the itchiness. Use Tucks pad or lotion to help with the swelling and sometimes bleeding.
This is the week total to your boss and your doctor and see what they determine would be a good time for you to take maternity leave. Cut back on hours if you are not feeling physically up to it. Try to get some help at home, doing cooking and cleaning. If you have other children, you may need some help taking care of them as well.