Your baby is now the size of a pineapple weighing in at around 1.9kg or 4.2lb. He is over 43.7cm (17.2in) from head to heel.
At 33 weeks you are one month away from being deemed full term and there continues to be many changes taking place with your baby.
Through the third trimester your baby’s brain develops very quickly and once he is born this will continue at a super fast rate due to his senses being stimulated by the outside world.
As your baby continues to plump up his skin becomes less wrinkled and smooths. It’s still covered in vernix which is the white greasy stuff that protects his skin and helps him travel through your birth canal. His arms and legs will become chubbier as the weeks pass and this is due to the white fat that is building under his skin.
The plates of bone that form your baby’s skull are not yet fused and are soft and flexible. During a vaginal birth your baby’s skull plates will glide over each other as he travels through the birth canal. You’ll be able to see and / or feel the gaps, also known as fontanelles, in your baby’s skull when he’s born. The fontanelles won’t close until he’s about 18 months old and continue to remain flexible until adulthood which is when they lock into place – this is to allow enough space and movement for the brain to grow.
At this stage in your pregnancy, if you’re having a boy, his testicles are likely to have descended into his scrotum by now. This being said it is perfectly normal for one or both of his testicles to descend after birth, something that is particularly common in babies who are born prematurely, or with a low birth weight. If your baby is born with undescended testicles they should move down into his scrotum by about three months after birth.
From about 14 weeks onwards you will have started making colostrum and milk and you may find that your breasts have started leaking – don’t worry as this is perfectly normal. It’s also perfectly normal if you aren’t leaking. If you are however you may be feeling somewhat uncomfortable or embarrassed if you find the milk is coming through your clothes. To help with this you may want to invest in some reusable breast pads. Throw away ones are also just as good.
A common question mums ask is if they should start expressing (or harvesting) colostrum. On the whole there is no need to do this if you are having a straightforward healthy pregnancy. Introducing your baby to your breast to breastfeed straight after the birth will give your baby all the nutrients he needs. However, if you’re having twins (or more babies), or you or your baby have had any complications, your midwife may suggest that you harvest your colostrum. Speak to your midwife about this to assess whether this is the right thing for you and also how to do it and how to store expressed colostrum.
Some mums find that they find it hard to sleep towards the end of their pregnancy with some even getting insomnia. This is common and is often down to hormonal changes, the increased need to go for a pee, heartburn and/or your belly growing in size – these factors certainly explain why sleep is hard to come by during this phase of your pregnancy. Worry and anxiety may also be a factor with thoughts about the birth, the baby’s arrival and the future racing around your mind. To help with the sleeplessness as well as anxiety try your best to get into a positive night-time routine. You may find a warm bath, a calming herbal tea, reduced screen time or a relaxing massage from your partner may help you get a better night sleep. Other things that may help include reading a book or listening to soothing music until you feel sleepy. A great resource to check out is the Sleepio app which looks at your lifestyle and provides access to a sleep expert who can give you advice on how to improve your sleep.
Another common (unwelcome) symptom that tends to creep up at this stage of pregnancy is indigestion and/or heartburn which often happens after eating or drinking. Youmay feel as though your chest is burning or perhaps have a bloated stomach. In other cases you may even feel nauseous. These digestive issues are usually the cause of your baby taking the space your stomach usually sits in. You can alleviate symptoms in the following ways but if you feel it’s getting particularly bad you should speak to your GP who may prescribe medicine to help you.
- Eat small meals, so you don’t feel stuffed afterwards.
- Eat healthily and avoid rich, spicy and fatty foods.
- Cut back on drinks with caffeine (eg tea, coffee, cola and energy drinks).
- Sit up straight when you eat.
- Give up alcohol and cigarettes. Ask your doctor or midwife to help you quit.
Things to think about this week
This is a good time to start collecting all the things you will need after birth – this helps reduce the worry around shopping for essentials when your baby arrives. Items you need could include breast pads, nappies, wipes and anything else you need for your baby.
You may also want to prepare freezable meals to save you needing to cook in the first few weeks after your new bundle arrives. Cooking up extra portions of meals you’re having in the moment is an easy way to do this too.
Your partner has a lot to think about at the moment and to help take the pressure off her a little it would be helpful if you could ensure that you have all the important numbers needed in your phone or to hand for example – your partner’s midwife, doctor and the labour ward or birth centre. If you have pets and older children now is a good time to plan how they will be cared for when your partner goes into labour.