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Pregnancy: Week 31

This is the first week in your second trimester, the one a lot of women find the most comfortable of the three. Hopefully, your nausea and tiredness aren’t so bad at 14 weeks pregnant and not so big you feel awkward and cumbersome. Expect a surge of energy in the next few weeks as your body really starts pumping out those feel good hormones. It is important that you start doing pelvic floor exercises now, which will help your body to support the increasing weight of your uterus. Many potential problems can be avoided by doing regular, daily repetitions which will strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

I feel blah!

If you're feeling a little ho hum why not indulge in a little self-care? So much focus can be on the baby that can mean that you’re not caring as much for yourself. Get a massage, take a trip to the salon, or just see a movie. Spending time with girlfriends and family can be incredibly restorative. Give yourself permission to spend some time on yourself and don’t feel guilty if you aren’t focusing on the baby every minute of the day. Baby’s time will come but for now, the best thing you can do is to care well for your baby’s mother—you!

Your physical changes this week

Your tummy is expanding more at 31 weeks, causing your skin to stretch a little more, and more and more. Many women develop stretch marks in the third trimester though little can be done to stop them from forming. Try to watch your weight gain and aim to stick within the total recommended 20 to 25 pound range. You’ll find it so much easier to return to your pre-pregnancy weight if you haven’t had an excessive pregnancy gain.

You could notice yourself becoming short of breath now, especially if you’re rushing about. Try to watch your posture and give your lungs as much room to inflate as they can. It's getting crowded in your belly now, but the simple act of sitting up straight and pulling back your shoulders can give you some much needed space.

Colostrum, the yellowish-clear early milk which is so ideal for newborns, could be leaking from your breasts this week. If you've had a baby before you could find you have more colostrum with your second child. Some women need to wear a nursing pad inside their bra to help with leakage.

Your body's iron stores could be depleting now, so it's very important that you do what you can to boost them. Your body also needs Vitamin C to help it absorb dietary iron. So have plenty of fresh fruits and juice when you are trying to increase your iron intake. Red meat, green leafy vegetables, good quality cereals, dried fruits, and legumes are all good sources of iron.

Your emotional changes this week

Birth is getting a little closer. A little apprehension is normal and healthy, but if you’re consumed by anxiety or dreading your delivery, consider speaking with a counselor or therapist. Fear causes a surge of cortisol, the stress hormone, to circulate within your body. A little is good, but too much, for too long can lead to stress-related health issues. Your pregnancy care provider will have suggestions you can try to reduce your anxiety.

Your baby seems to be very much a part of you by now and it's becoming harder to remember a time when you weren’t pregnant. When you’re 31 weeks pregnant, you’ll start to imagine what life will be like after the baby is born, build hopes for the sort of parent you want to be, and develop your own ideas on how you want to care for your baby.

Baby's changes this week

Your baby is getting longer with each passing day. Baby is around 18 inches this week, only 3 inches less than the average length of a baby born at term. Your baby is also gaining more weight. You’ll probably notice your baby's weight increases when you step on the scale at your prenatal appointments.

Your baby is spending long periods of time in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. This stage of sleep is so important that some researchers consider REM sleep a third stage of being along with awake and asleep.

More brain and complex nerve activity this week. The connections or synapses in your baby's brain are forming by the millions and are helped by the stimulation they receive in their insulated little world. Your voice, household noise, filtered light, movement, and music will all help these vital connections to form.

Hints for the week

Your prenatal appointments will increase in frequency from now on. It is likely you’ll need to see your provider twice monthly to assess your baby's growth and how you’re doing. These visits can be very exciting even if they may seem a little repetitive. Important information is gathered at every visit, and it’s important not have too much time between visits.

Aim to eat a handful of nuts every day and don’t shy away from butter, margarine, and even a little cream.

If you have a desk job or spend long hours sitting, make a plan to move every hour. Getting up and going for a walk will help your lower limbs push your blood back through your general circulation. Aim to walk for exercise every day as well. Try to include a hill or two and increase your pace to get your heart rate going a little higher.

Become aware of your baby's patterns of movements. Unless it's been recommended, you don’t need to keep a kick chart, but a general awareness of your baby's movements and activity is a good thing to have.

Week 32 follows.

For more information see Pregnancy or Week by Week.

The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.