At 31 weeks pregnant, you have entered the last phase of your journey to motherhood. You are very visibly pregnant, counting down the remaining nine or so weeks.
You might be feeling some discomfort due to the pressure that your uterus exerting on the organs around it. There are other changes as well that we are going to look at.
Your baby is also going through a lot of change, gearing up for life out of the comfort of your uterus. It’s packing on some weight and the brain is also developing quite quickly so that it can properly process the outside world.
So, let’s discover what both you and your baby look like and experience during this time of your pregnancy.
At this point in time, your baby is packing on the pounds quite quickly in preparation for life out of the womb.
There are also other developments taking place all over the baby’s body — both inside and outside.
How big is your baby at 31 weeks pregnant?
Your little one is not so little anymore when you’re 31 weeks pregnant. It is roughly the size of a coconut, weighing in at almost a kilo and a half or 3.3 pounds.
With the rapid growth, your baby is coming up to almost half a meter in length at 41cm or 16 inches.
As it’s growing taller, the baby’s development elsewhere also continues.
31 weeks pregnant baby position
When you start the eighth month of your pregnancy, your baby is in the middle of a growth spurt. He is packing on the pounds by accumulating fat under the skin, becoming a chubby baby more and more. He is also very active and you’ll feel a lot movement as he becomes more acquainted with limbs. At this stage, he is the size of a coconut — weighing in at three and a third pounds. From head to heel, he is around 16 inches long.
Regarding orientation, your baby should now be vertical – head down and feet towards your chest cavity. If he was in breech position, he should flip down into the cephalic presentation by this week.
Pregnancy week 31 fetal development
At week 31, the fine hairs —also known as lanugo— covering the body of the fetus begin to recede to give the baby a smoother outlook. To achieve this same goal, the wrinkles in the skin also begin to smooth out.
At his size, the fetus cannot fully somersault every which way in your uterus. However, it is still very much active and has control of its limbs. You will, therefore, feel plenty of kicks and bumps as it moves.
They can even suck their thumb, usually assuming the archetypal fetal position to do so.
With less than 10 weeks left till he can come out into the world, your baby needs the brain to be in top shape to handle all the environmental stimulation. The neurons in the brain develop at a rapid pace during this period to ensure that the baby’s brain is ready for the outside world.
This rapid development also leads to the development of the five senses. This means that your baby can taste and feel. He can even make out some of the diffuse light that makes it into the uterus.
As your baby grows within you, your body also experiences plenty of changes to accommodate it. Apart from your tummy getting bigger, there is a number of other changes that you will notice on your belly and other symptoms elsewhere.
31 weeks pregnant belly
With a baby the size of a coconut within your uterus, your belly is expanding. If the skin stretches out, you are likely to have stretch marks running down your belly.
By now, you should have plenty of comfortable maternity dresses and loose-fitting pants to choose from. Your belly button is also pushed out to the front and will likely cause a slight bulge in your clothing.
31 weeks pregnant symptoms
When you’re 31 weeks pregnant, you will experience a number of symptoms and some signs to let you know what’s going on.
- Fluid from breasts. You may notice some fluid leaking from your breasts every once in a while. This is colostrum (early breast milk) containing protein, fat, secretory IgA, and minerals. Don’t worry when you see it. It’s just the body preparing for nursing when you do have your baby.
- Back pain. When you enter your thirty-first week of pregnancy, you will likely notice that your back and legs ache quite a bit. This is because of the extra weight that they have to support as your near D day. If you feel that it’s becoming too much to bear, you can enlist the help of a parental massage therapist. They can relieve some of the pain with their specialist techniques.
- Breathlessness. After lugging around all that extra weight, you are bound to become exhausted and breathless. Also, the expanding uterus is pushing up against your diaphragm. This means your diaphragm cannot expand fully below to make room for the inflating lungs when you breathe in. That’s why you may quickly run out of breath even after minimal activity.
- Frequent urination. The uterus starts pressing down on your bladder. This leaves less space for it to store urine, leaving you to make frequent trips to the ladies room.
- Constipation. The large bowel also has decreased motility, which leads to increased water absorption and constipation. You might also be taking less fiber and fluid than recommended when you’re pregnant, leading to constipation. Congestion of the pelvic vessels combined with increased abdominal pressure with bowel movements secondary to constipation can lead to hemorrhoids.
- Heartburn. You might also experience heartburn during the latter stages of your pregnancy. There are plenty of things that might be the cause. For example, it could be the pressure of the uterus pushing the stomach contents up your esophagus. Progesterone also decreases the motility of the upper part of your gastrointestinal tract, making the sphincters less effective. This makes it easier for the ‘burning’ contents of the stomach to flow upwards, causing the heartburn.
- Braxton Hicks contractions.
During these last weeks leading up to the birth of your child, you might feel some slight tightening of your uterus. Five or six per hour may be a sign of preterm labor and should be assessed.
When you go in for your ultrasound at week 31, you will see what your baby will look like when it is born. You can clearly make out the face and all the different expressions that it has. You can also see the limbs and all the movements.
You will find that you’re a bit clumsy at week 31 of your pregnancy. The extended belly will have thrown off your center of gravity a bit, leading to this clumsiness. Your movements will, therefore, be a little bit restricted.
However, this shouldn’t stop you from doing some light exercise like short walks and yoga. You’ll actually find that the yoga is good for your back and leg pain.
Sex at week 31 of pregnancy
You can still have and enjoy sex with your partner at this stage. It has its benefits. If you’re not sure, you can ask your doctor to rule out any complications which can get worse due to the intercourse.
Remember to always use protection to limit the chance of passing on any infections to the unborn child.
At this point in time, if you haven’t yet completed the nursery, you should get to it. What you want is to get into the last weeks with a clear mind knowing that everything is in place.
During this week, you should also arrange to take your maternity leave. Get in touch with your employer and colleagues and get everything ready for when you leave.
You should also start to make a list of things that you’ll need to have in your bag when the big day finally arrives.
What to ask your doctor?
- Sudden headaches, blurred vision, and facial swelling, RUQ pain. If you experience any of these, it’s prudent to ask your doctor. These could be the signs of severe preeclampsia. This is a very serious complication that puts not only your pregnancy at risk but also your life.
- Long lasting Braxton Hicks contractions. If your Braxton Hicks contractions last longer than two minutes, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible. Do the same if they occur more frequently (> 5-6 per hour). This might be a sign that you’re getting into early labor — your baby might be making an early arrival.