At 31 weeks pregnant, both your body and baby are preparing for the big day. You’ve been through a lot over the 7 months of your pregnancy, but now there’s only 2 more months left. In these last 2 months, you’ll still notice some changes in yourself, and they won’t all be pleasant, but most of the hard work has been done.
Where are we up to?
Up to this point, you’ll have probably done a lot of the preparation you need to do before welcoming your child into your home. Maternity leave is probably sorted out, and you might have even done some cleaning up around the house or even started decorating. At this point, you’re going to want to take more time to relax so that these last stages can be as easy as possible, especially as your body continues to grow.
Your baby bump will be pretty big now, and might become a bit of an inconvenience for moving around soon. Your uterus will fill your entire pelvis, so it is probably going to get in the way of a few things. It’s important to try not to get stressed out or irritated by the impact 31 weeks of pregnancy has on your day-to-day life, so lets take a look at what is going on in your body and with your baby so you can understand what to expect.
At this point, what started as an egg has now mostly developed into a little person, and is making some final changes to prepare for the real world. Although the baby continues to grow, this third trimester is mainly about the adaptations needed to prepare for birth. In fact, the baby is now moving into the right position they will need to be in for the day the pop out, 2 months down the line.
The baby will be trying to get into the fetal position. Like going to sleep, they will be curled up and relaxed facing the right way to be squeezed out of you. There is a good chance they might even be facing downwards already. Although it can feel like a long time is still left, they are starting to have less space, so they will need to make these movements in advance.
As they are relaxing into the fetal position, your baby is actually going to sleep a lot more. Not only do they sleep more frequently, but it becomes more regular too, meaning that they will be quiet for long periods of time. This is something you’ll probably notice more at this stage, as the baby’s movements happen at specific times, and then stop for long stretches of snoozing.
When the baby is awake, they are moving around a little more than usual, as they can now move their head. After birth, a child needs strong neck muscles to protect their head, which is why you’re often reminded to cradle the head when holding a baby. These neck muscles are strengthening in the womb as the baby moves their head from side to side.
Inside that little head of theirs, they are developing further to prepare all the neurological functions needed for life in the outside world. More neural connections are being made in the growing brain, to check that all the five senses are functional before leaving the womb.
They can detect light, hear some muffled sounds, and process information. They don’t have to smell what’s inside your body yet, thanks to that amniotic fluid you’ve been producing. Once they have fresh air, they’ll pick up your scent and quickly grow attached to it.
Your Growing Body
Your body will continue to grow and change through the last two months of your pregnancy. Although it seems like every possible change has already happened (and that is almost the case), there are a few more feelings and experiences you will notice during your third trimester.
Firstly, it is quite common to feel out of breath more often. Breathlessness can be result of the baby growing inside you, as it is essentially becoming closer to your lungs and making it harder for you to breathe in and out. It can also be caused by the progesterone hormone you’ve been producing. This should be mild and not problematic, much like the feeling you get after running to catch a bus. If it does feel worse, speak to a doctor.
You might also have more trouble sleeping. Of course, you will have had a few restless nights already, whether they were caused by stress or nausea in the early days or cramps later on. Now you might be experience it more frequently. As we said before, the baby is starting to sleep more regularly, and it likes to wake up and move around more when you go to sleep. This might result in keeping you awake. Also, the cramps in your legs and general stress will still cause some bother at this stage.
The newest and most important thing you could notice are contractions. Rather than being in labor, these are Braxton Hicks contractions. They are smaller and less frequent, and simply mean that your body is seizing up now and then. The first might be a surprise, but they’re completely normal. If you have more than four in an hour, speak to a doctor.
Finally, there are a few lifestyle tips you can follow to make your life easier and to help keep you comfortable throughout this late stage in your pregnancy. As your body is almost ready to go into labor, you will likely have more back pain as your pelvis relaxes. This, along with contractions and cramps, are a good reason to try to relax and stay comfortable.
One good method of relaxing is, of course, massage. Now that you’re preparing for the birth, why not treat yourself and let a masseuse to relax you and relieve you of any stress and pain. Prenatal massage is a common service women like to try at this stage in a pregnancy and are great for keeping calm.
You could also try to find a new podcast or radio show that you like. Listening to a podcast can be a very relaxing experience, and they can come in a long series so you don’t have to choose what to listen to next. They also give you the option of falling asleep without staring at a screen like you would for a new television show. This can help to keep you busy and distracted if you struggle to sleep or need to take a break.