What is it like?
Your baby is the length of a bok choy cabbage, and you are piling on the pounds at about 1 lb per week. Many of the familiar pregnancy symptoms are still with you – the edema, constipation, frequent urination, heartburn, fatigue, pregnancy brain and hemorrhoids. You may notice you have wrist pain and a pregnancy waddle too this week. On the bright side, you’ve only got a few weeks left, and your baby gains strength and weight every week.
Your baby’s growth
- Body size
In week 31 of your pregnancy your baby weighs about 4 pounds (1800 grams) and measures over 16 inches (400 millimeters) in length, or about the length of a bunch of bok choy (Chinese cabbage). He or she continues to gain weight at about 0.55 pounds (250 grams) per week.
- Head characteristics
His or her pupils are now well developed and they can contract, dilate and detect sources of light. Although your baby’s bones will start to harden, the skull will remain soft and malleable to allow her to grow, and to better fit through your uterus during birth. When born, you may notice two soft areas at the top of your baby’s head where the skull bones haven’t yet grown together. These spots, called fontanels, allow a baby’s relatively large head to move through the narrow birth canal.
- Body appearance
Your baby’s skin quickly loses its wrinkled appearance begins to become pink and soft as she gains fat. Your baby may shift into the heads down position in preparation for birth, although she’s still got several weeks, and she may change his or her position several times before the due date. When your baby shifts positions you may experience numbness in your legs or a sudden urge to use the bathroom.
- Internal organs
The lungs and digestive tract are almost fully developed and mature enough to support your baby’s body in the real world. If you have a boy, his testicles continue to descend towards the scrotum and if you have a girl, her clitoris is now visible.
What happens inside your body?
Things are getting a little crowded in there! Your internal organs are getting squashed by your growing uterus, and you may find you are a bit breathless as there is less room for your lungs to expand. And you may still have the frequent urination, edemas, fatigue, heartburn, constipation, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins. You may have developed the pregnant “waddle”—the loosening of your hips is caused by increased levels pregnancy hormones. These relax your ligaments especially those in your pelvis. Don’t worry, you’ll only walk like a goose for a few more weeks!
You might feel pain, itchiness or numbness in your fingers wrists or hands. This is a consequence of the extra fluid in your body – your body is carrying about 50 % more blood to support all the metabolic changes. The extra pressure can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. You can try wearing a wrist support, available over-the-counter, especially at night. Also, if your job involves using your hands, for example working on a computer and typing, you should take frequent short breaks and stretch your arms and wrists.
How different will you look?
You’ve probably gained a total of 21 to 27 lbs, and will continue to pack it on at the rate of about a pound a week. Now that your baby bump occupies much of your middle, you may find it hard to find a good sleeping position. Lying on your stomach obviously isn’t an option, and sleeping on your back might cause you to feel congested and it can worsen hemorrhoids. Also, the weight of your womb can put too much pressure on the blood vessels that run behind your abdomen, which can be bad for your body and the baby.
The best option is to sleep on your side, and even better to sleep on your left side. Keep your legs and knees bent and a pillow between your legs to support your hips and belly. Sleeping on your left side will increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby. And it will help your kidneys flush out waste and excess fluid, which can help lessen edema, varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
Tips for fathers – How can you care for both of your loved ones?
So your partner, once the pinnacle of organization, may be in a fog. She used to be the one to remember your mother’s birthday, your appointment with the real estate agent and the names of your second cousins. Now, with pregnancy brain, she can’t remember whether she’s wearing odd socks.
The best thing that you can do is to deal with the situation with humor, organization and a good helping of helpfulness. If she’s having trouble remembering her keys, find one central place – like a bowl or hook — where to keep them. If she can’t remember where she left her dry-cleaning, pick it up for her. If she used to be the one to organize birthdays, why don’t you try taking on that role? Support, rather than criticism is key at this stage of the pregnancy.
Tips for mothers – Tips to help you go through trimester
Cures for hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids, also called piles, are common during the later stages of the pregnancy. They are similar to varicose veins but they appear in the anal area. You may see blood during a bowel movement, or feel full, usually described as having to go to the bathroom, although there is no stool.
There are several ways to prevent or ease hemorrhoids:
- Add fiber to your diet: Hemorrhoids are worsened by constipation, a common condition during pregnancy. Keeping you regular will help ease the pressure on the affected area.
- Do Kegel exercises daily: Kegels increase circulation in the rectal area and strengthen the muscles around the anus, decreasing the chance of hemorrhoids. They also strengthen the muscles around the vagina and urethra, which will help you recover after the birth.
- Regular Exercise: exercise will help increase your circulation, and help lessen the blood pressure on the affected area. Aim for at least thirty minutes at least 3 times per week.
- Moistening the area: You may find that toilet paper irritates the area, and so many women try premoistened wipes are more comfortable. You can buy baby wipes or wipes medicated with witch hazel that are made specifically for people with hemorrhoids.
- Natural remedies:
1) Witch Hazel Compress or Cream: Made from the leaves and bark of a plant called Hamamelis virginiana, witch hazel is a natural anti-inflammatory. It should be applied topically to the affected area. It can be bought over-the-counter from most drug stores. Witch hazel is thought to decrease the bleeding of hemorrhoids by acting as an astringent. It may also relieve pain, itching and swelling associated with hemorrhoids.
2) Butcher’s broom (Ruscus aculeatus) is a shrubby European plant that is a member of the lily family. It is also known as sweet broom, knee holly, box holly, and sweet broom. Although there isn’t yet any scientific evidence for butcher’s boom, it has a long history as being used for hemorrhoids and varicose veins. The active ingredients are flavonoids and ruscogen, an anti-inflammatory that also constricts the veins. Butcher’s boom can be consumed in tea form or in capsules.
In the movies, there’s always a splash, followed by a large puddle on the floor. Then the woman looks up and screams, ‘My water has just broken!’ In reality, it can be dramatic, or it can be a slow drip. It may occur once you have already started. If you start to feel contractions, and aren’t sure if they are the Braxton-Hicks, false labor, or the real thing, see if they intensify over time. The Braxton-Hicks should ease when you move, but real contractions are rhythmic and regular, and last about 30-70 seconds. As time goes on, they get closer together and stronger.