At week 31 your baby is measuring around 41.1cm long and weighing in at about 1.5k – this is about the weight of a coconut.
This week your baby is now beginning to look more like a newborn with his wrinkly skin starting to smooth out as he continues to put on weight and pad out – yes, there’s still more growing to do – around another 1kg or so.
Your baby’s taste buds have matured enough for him to taste flavours in the amniotic fluid that he swallows – this means he can taste what you’re eating. Some experts believe that the foods you eat during your pregnancy shape your baby’s food preferences later down the line when you start weaning onto solid foods (at around six months of age).
Your baby continues to sleep for short bursts of time – this can be anywhere between 20 minutes and 40 minutes throughout the day and night. He is unlikely to sleep for longer than 90 minutes in one go and will likely keep very still on your tummy whilst he is sleeping.
As your baby grows bigger each week there is less room for him to move around and this limited space in your womb (uterus) means it is likely that he has his legs pulled up close to his chest – in the classic fetal position we know babies to adopt. Even with less room in your womb he will still be active and you may notice that movements, wriggles, kicks and nudges start to feel different particularly as he gets stronger. His patterns of movement however will be the same so if he usually moves most in the evenings you will continue to feel him at this time.
If you feel as though your baby isn’t moving as much as usual or something has changed in his patterns, get in contact with your midwife or the maternity department at your hospital straight away. Reduced movements can be a sign that your baby may be unwell, so it’s always best to get things checked out, just to be on the safe side.
You may be feeling the weight of your bump on your back as your pregnancy progresses, in particular your lower back. There is plenty you can do however to make yourself comfortable and prevent your back from feeling worse as you near the end of your pregnancy.
Where possible try not to lift anything heavy as it could cause you to pull or strain your muscles adding to your aches and pains. If you have another child it can be difficult to avoid lifting them – if this is the case speak to your midwife for advice on how best to protect and support your back. It may be suggested that you use a maternity belt which can help with support.
Here are some tips on how to ease aches as well as how to protect your back during your pregnancy:
- Exercise – Exercising regularly can help relieve aches and pains in your back and other parts of your body. The exercises strengthen your muscles which in turn helps improve your posture and take the pressure of your lower back. Pregnancy pilates or yoga are great ways to help you build core strength too which also help prevent aches and pains. Others may find swimming more comfortable as the water can help support the weight of your bump. You should also ask your midwife for some advice on exercises to help you strengthen and protect your back.
- Complementary therapies – There are a huge range of complementary therapies that may help with back aches. You should speak to your doctor or midwife before taking part in any of these therapies to ensure you pick the right option for you.
- Acupuncture – Acupuncture uses fine needles to stimulate focus points in the body. The theory is that this helps to improve health and ease symptoms by releasing energy pathways in your back.
- Aromatherapy – An aromatherapy bath with common lavender or ylang ylang essential oils may help ease aches as well as reduce your blood pressure though, so take care not to get out of the bath too quickly. Use no more than two or three drops blended with a teaspoon of carrier oil such as grapeseed.
- A warm (but not hot) water bottle or a compress may also help. Soak a cloth in warm water that contains two or three drops of lavender or ylang ylang essential oil and place it on the small of your back until cool.
- Reflexology – In reflexology the feet represent a map of the body. A reflexologist will treat pressure points in the foot that correspond to the painful area of your body.
- Osteopathy and chiropractic – In osteopathy and chiropractic, practitioners manipulate your muscles, joints or bones to relieve pain. Both therapies can help to relieve back pain, sciatica, pubic pain and groin pain in pregnancy. They are especially recommended for people suffering lower back pain.
Things to think about at week 31
If you haven’t already picked a name for your baby, now may be a good time to start thinking about it. There are plenty of baby naming sites that may provide you with some ideas from the traditional to modern. There are also great articles on names inspired by space, nature, mythology or more. Naming a baby is a big decision and there is no need to rush. In the UK you have 42 days after birth to register your baby and their name.
With 9 weeks to go your partner is likely to be feeling tired and in need of extra rest. Now may be a good time to ask her how she is feeling and what support she needs from you in the lead up to the birth. You may want to give your partner a relaxing foot massage to help with swelling and water retention. Remind your partner to keep her feet up when she is sitting and to go for short walks, both of which also help with foot swelling during pregnancy.
By Lalita – mummy to a 3 year old girl and 2 week old boy