For your baby, this part of the third trimester is all about getting longer and filling out. For you, week 31 of your pregnancy comes with its own changes and developments. This is a great time to begin preparing for your baby's birth, which will happen in a few short weeks.
Your Baby's Development
Now measuring more than 16 inches from head to toe and weighing in at about 3.3 pounds, your little one is getting bigger all the time.
The Mayo Clinic reports that the big news for this week is the maturation of your baby's central nervous system. At this point in your pregnancy, your baby should now be able to control his body temperature. Up until recently, your baby has been relying on you for this important task. Now his central nervous system is developed enough to take over.
Your Changing Body
During the 31st week of your pregnancy, you're probably continuing to notice symptoms like sleep difficulties, constipation, hemorrhoids, and Braxton Hicks contractions. According to WebMD, you may have gained between 21 and 27 pounds by this point in your pregnancy. Your uterus has expanded to fill a large portion of your abdomen, and this, in combination with the pregnancy hormones, can result in acid reflux or heartburn.
There are few things you can do to help with the heartburn:
- Slow down as you eat. Take small bites, and chew food thoroughly.
- Try to eat a healthy snack between meals, and keep meals smaller than normal. Eating less food at one time can help.
- Choose maternity clothes that fit loosely, rather than tops that are tight around your abdomen.
- Avoid foods that can make heartburn worse, like spicy foods or high-acid beverages like orange juice and caffeine.
- Sleep with your head higher than your feet. Elevating your upper body puts gravity on your side.
- Wait at least an hour or two to go to bed after your last meal or snack.
If your heartburn is very severe, talk to your doctor or midwife about taking an over-the-counter medication to help. Always discuss medication with your healthcare provider.
More to Know About Week 31 of Your Pregnancy
As you approach your due date, you may be feeling nervous at the prospect of a possibly painful labor. You have options when it comes to managing the pain, and week 31 is a great time to get informed about your choices. Your healthcare provider can also help you understand your options for pain relief.
If you choose not to get pain medication during your labor or delivery, there are still a lot of things you can do to manage the pain. You should already be attending a childbirth class, such as Lamaze, which can teach you many excellent coping techniques.
These are a few of the ways you might manage pain during a drug-free labor and delivery:
- Breathing techniques
- Visualization exercises
- Water birth
- Walking or moving
These techniques can also help if you choose to have an epidural block, narcotics, or other pain-relief medications.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, about half of women choose to have an epidural for their delivery. This procedure involves inserting a catheter into the space near your spinal column, known as the epidural space. Through the catheter, you will receive medication that decreases sensation and pain from the waist down.
There are different types of epidurals, including a combined spinal epidural and a regular epidural. These vary in the duration of the pain relief and your ability to move around after the epidural is in place. You should discuss these options with your doctor to choose the best method for you.
There are several other medications that can be used to decrease pain during childbirth. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the following drugs are the most commonly prescribed:
Like the epidural, these drugs carry risks, benefits, and side effects that you should discuss with your doctor.
If you need help downloading the pregnancy calendar, check out these helpful tips.
It's important to remember that your pain relief preferences should be part of your birth plan, but that your birth plan may change during the actual delivery. Your baby's birthday is only a few weeks away, so it's a great idea to get informed about the options now.