Your pregnancy: 31 weeks

Your baby has been able to open her eyes in utero; now she can also distinguish light from dark.

Felt tub of ice cream used to show how big baby is at 31 weeks
Photo: Mandy Milks, Erik Putz, Anthony Swaneveld. Felt: thefeltstore.com

What’s going on in there: Fetal development at 31 weeks

This week is so sweet—and not just because your little one is now the size of a tub of ice cream: about 41 centimetres (16.2 inches long) and 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds). While you’re probably getting a little uncomfortable carrying all that extra weight around, your baby is getting cuter by the second: Her bones have nearly reached their full length, her skin isn’t so translucent anymore, and she is developing creases in her hands and wrists. Around 31 weeks pregnant, the irises in your baby’s eyes are forming and can react to light that reaches the uterus. She is getting stronger, too, so be prepared for her to be more active this week—especially since she isn’t out of room (or womb!) just yet. It will probably feel like she’s doing Zumba in there as she stretches and exercises her limbs. ( Apologize to your bladder in advance!)  

31 weeks pregnant symptoms

Protruding navel
If it hasn’t happened already, it’s coming (unless you’re lucky to have a very shallow or very deep belly button). The pressure of your expanding uterus on your abdominal wall will cause the protrusion of your umbilicus, the anatomical term for your belly button. (It will return to its pre-pregnancy state, albeit probably a bit saggier, after delivery.) Steel yourself for turkey-timer jokes because they’re pretty much guaranteed. If the arrival of your popped-out belly button bothers you, you can put a heavy-duty Band-Aid over it to lessen its appearance, but for the record, we think it’s adorable.

Heart palpitations
And we don’t mean just when you’re thinking about labour. Heart palpitations—when you’re acutely aware of a racing heart or your heart skipping a beat—are fairly common in late pregnancy. They are your body’s reaction to changes in circulation, to carrying around a bulge the size of a bowling ball and, sometimes, to a mother’s anxiety about the life changes ahead. Take a break and do some deep breathing until you feel your ticker stabilize, but get in touch with your doctor if the palpitations are accompanied by chest pain or shortness of breath or if you’re concerned that they’re happening too often.

sad pregnant womanWhy women develop depression during pregnancy

What’s on your mind this week

Antenatal anxiety
With a looming life change ahead, some mom-to-be worries are to be expected (NBD, you’ll just be completely responsible for another human being!). But for some expectant mamas, this anxiety crosses the line. If you find yourself sapped of the joy of pregnancy (or if you never had it to begin with) and you’re spending too much time dwelling on the what-if scenarios of pregnancy and childbirth, it’s time to talk to your doc. You can find more on antenatal (also referred to as prenatal) anxiety here, including symptoms and strategies for coping.

Sex and the pregnant girl
We’ve all heard the stories about women who have gone into labour after a good romp between the sheets. But fear not: An orgasm won’t kick-start premature labour. Even at full term, sex will only help get things going if they’re going to happen soon anyway. That said, don’t be surprised if you experience Braxton Hicks after intercourse because the oxytocin released during sexual arousal can cause the uterus to contract. For more on sex during pregnancy, go here.

One word of warning: If you experience any signs of premature labour or suspect that your water has broken, it’s best to avoid sex until your doctor has checked you over and given you the go-ahead.

Just for kicks

Forward this link to whichever well-meaning friend or relative is hosting your baby shower. No gross “what’s in the diaper?” squished chocolate-bar games for you, lady. Here are some baby shower games that won’t make you cringe.

And Bingo was his/her Name-o

Baby names

Are you a name nerd with a thing for history? We went way, way back to check out the most popular names over the decades. Take a look at 100 years of baby names.

Pregnancy to-do list: 31 weeks

Pack your hospital bag
It’s always a dramatic scene in movies: Woman goes into labour and partner freaks out and starts doing exaggerated Lamaze breaths (“hee, hee, hee, hooooo”) while yelling “We have to pack the bag!” Woman inevitably pulls already-perfectly-packed bag out of a closet and calmly replies, with a sigh, “I packed the bag weeks ago.” You, too, can be that super-prepared leading lady. Believe it or not, you should think about packing your hospital bag as early as 30 weeks. It’s just one less thing to worry about later in your pregnancy, and it means that you’re ready to roll if your baby decides to make her debut a few weeks early. For what to pack, check out our handy hospital checklist.

Don’t forget to include a few items for your partner, too (or, better still, make him pack his own bag). He is going to need a change of clothes, a few toiletries (toothbrush, deodorant) and his phone charger so that he has enough power to call and text all the friends and family awaiting your joyful news.

Read more:
What causes preterm labour?
Babyproofing: Should you do it?
Next up: 32 weeks pregnant

 

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