Pregnancy week by week



Week 31 of Pregnancy

You may feel bored-you have been pregnant for a long time now! This is a good time to start preparing for what is to come. For instance, if you have decided to breast feed your baby, now is a great time to read more about breast feeding. Our section on breast feeding will guide you on how to get started, understand the different positions of breast feeding and possible problems you may face.

You may be experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions over the last few weeks. You will notice that during these contractions your whole bump goes hard and then relaxes. There is no need to panic as these are just practise runs for labour. You can use them to practise breathing and relaxation techniques that you have learned in your antenatal classes. As your bump goes hard, sigh out and then take steady deep breathes as it relaxes.

Your body

Your uterus is now about four inches above your belly button and most women have gained at least twenty pounds by this week. Remember to maintain a good posture to help relieve the stress on your spine. You will be able to feel your baby’s movements more clearly this week which will reassure you that everything is fine. At the same time your uterus will be pushing against your lungs making your breathless. Talk to your doctor if it becomes very bothersome. It may also be an indication that you haemoglobin levels are low. Your heartburn may worsen further as your growing uterus encroaches on all your other organs including stomach. Refer to our section on third trimester symptoms to learn more. Many women begin to develop varicose veins around this time. Wearing special support hose or support stockings or tights may help.

This week you are probably suffering from pregnancy insomnia. The aches and pains in your lower abdomen may be keeping you up at night. Also your baby may have a tendency to become more active when you lie down and want to get some rest. A pregnancy pillow can help you relax.

Apart from the usual symptoms of this trimester, many women will find that their mood swings are back. This can become worse with the added stress, anxiety, and excitement of your impending labour and delivery. Try to remember not to stress out to much. Be sure to make time both for yourself and for your hubby. This like all things will pass.

Your baby

Your baby kicks a lot some days, and not so much others. But if you feel the baby is moving much less than usual, contact our doctor immediately. Your baby can possibly tell light from dark, day from night. He won’t grow much more in length but will continue to put on weight. Your baby’s lungs and digestive tract are almost fully developed, although they will continue to mature. Each day that your baby spends inside is crucial. The longer he stays, the easier it will be for him to breath and survive unassisted after birth. Your baby’s sexual organs continue to grow and develop. If your baby is a boy, his testicles are descending into the scrotum.  Your baby now has a strong grip as his motor development is taking place. He may also start sucking his thumb around this time in preparation for nursing after birth. His head can move from side to side now as the spine has completed and his irises now contract and dilate in response to light.


Having a good posture can help ease your breathlessness as it gives your lungs more space to expand. It is easier to breathe while sitting upright than if you sit slumped in your seat. You can also slow down your exercise routines and take lots of breaks throughout your day so that your heart and lungs don’t have to work too hard. If you are not sleeping well because of shortness of breath, try sleeping in a little propped position with extra pillows. This may not be a good position if you are also having backaches but it will help your lungs to expand fully.


1) What tests can I expect to undergo during the third trimester?

You are probably visiting your doctor once every two weeks. Between 35 to 37 weeks, your doctor will take your vaginal swab for Group B streptococcus screening. Although Group B streptococcus can be present in 30% of all healthy women, it can cause serious infections in newborns. Women who test positive are treated with antibiotics during delivery to prevent the newborn from contracting infection at birth.

Sometime around 32 weeks, you will have an ultrasound to see if all is fine with your baby. The scan will also check the position of the placenta, the amount of amniotic fluid, baby’s weight and other parameters.

If you have a high risk pregnancy, such as twin pregnancy, pre-eclampsia, or gestational diabetes, you may have to undergo a nonstress test every week. This test involves using a fetal monitor to measure baby’s heart rate. In high risk pregnancies a biophysical profile is done that combines a nonstress test with an ultrasound for a more accurate evaluation of the baby.

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