Week 31 – your third trimester

This might be hard to believe, but you won't be pregnant forever! You're very unlikely to go beyond another 9 or 10 weeks. You could have your baby in just 6 weeks, and it wouldn't be considered to be early. Really, truly… the end is in sight now!

What's happening in my body?

Your baby and your bump are still growing. In a couple of weeks, you will both go through a final growth spurt. Your baby still has lots of fattening up to do before the big day arrives.

If this is your first baby, then your midwife or doctor will probably get out a measuring tape and check the size of your womb. This can be estimated by measuring up your stomach, from the top of your pubic bone, to the top of your bump.

They will also gently feel your pregnant belly to work out which way up your baby is positioned. Some babies will be head down, all ready for birth. You may have felt your baby move into place and seen your bump shift downwards.

If your baby is head up, then there's still plenty of time for your little one to do a big somersault and get into position. Some babies don't move down into the pelvis ('engage') until labour starts.

If your baby stays head up, in the 'breech' position, then that could affect the type of birth you are able to have. In some cases, if the baby is in an awkward position, or the placenta is blocking their way down, then a caesarean may be recommended. You will be able to talk through the risks and benefits with your midwife or doctor before making your decision.

Keeping abreast: the lowdown on breastfeeding

Right now, your baby will be practising sucking, which is a vital skill for feeding. Have you thought how you would like to feed your baby?

Breastfeeding gets your baby off to a flying start because…

  • breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight infections.

  • your baby is less likely to get stomach bugs and develop breathing problems.

  • it's a no-fuss solution, available on tap whenever your baby needs it.

It's win-win for you too, as it lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancers – and burns around 300 calories a day. Find out more about breastfeeding.

There are lots of ways your partner can support you, such as bringing you drinks while you feed your baby.

Unfortunately not every woman is able to breastfeed. There may be health reasons why you can't, for example if you are taking medication that could go into your breast milk, or if you're recovering from surgery. You can still get your baby off to a great start, with bottles of formula and lots of love and cuddles!

Birth horror stories

Around this time, something odd is likely to happen. Friends, family and even complete strangers will feel the need to tell you their childbirth horror stories in great detail.

Here's some good advice – don't listen to them!

You will be in capable hands. You will have access to pain medication. Your birth won't be the same as anyone else's.

So smile and move on!

Third trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 31 weeks)

Are you getting fake contractions? You may feel your bump tighten up for 20-30 seconds, then relax again. It shouldn't hurt. These are known as Braxton Hicks contractions and often referred to as 'practice contractions'. You can get them after sex and other vigorous activities, or if someone touches your bump. These are perfectly normal and harmless. However, if they're painful, or you start to get them at regular intervals, then it could be a sign of early labour, so contact your midwife or doctor.

Your signs of pregnancy could also include:

Tommy's the baby charity has produced a pregnancy guide with a further list of symptoms.

What does my baby look like?

Your baby, or foetus, is around 41.1cm long from head to heel, and weighs about 1.5kg. That's approximately the size and weight of a coconut.

Your baby is very active, moving around, sucking their fingers, and doing the odd somersault. Day by day, your baby is getting plumper and looking less wrinkled. The amount of amniotic fluid surrounding your baby is increasing – and that's due to your baby weeing into it!

Your baby will start to recognise voices outside the womb, so encourage your partner and any other children to talk to your bump, to help create a strong bond between them.

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Action stations

Have you got a baby bed yet? For the first few months, you'll need a crib, carrycot or Moses basket. If you're borrowing a cot, then ideally you'll need a new mattress. It should fit snugly with no gaps and be clean and waterproof. Don't buy pillows or duvets, as they could cause your baby to overheat or even suffocate. Instead, get a baby sleeping bag or layer up with light blankets.

Read more tips on what to buy.

This week you could also...

You have maternity rights and if you're worried about your safety at work, then talk to your employer. You shouldn't be lugging anything around, and you may need extra breaks and somewhere to sit. You can also attend antenatal appointments during paid work time.

It’s a good time to tone up those muscles ‘down under’. Gentle exercises can help to prevent leakage when you laugh, sneeze, cough or jump around on your future baby’s trampoline. Get the muscles going by pretending that you’re having a wee and then stop the ‘urine’ in midflow. Visit Tommys.org for more ideas.

Attend antenatal classes to prepare you for the birth and beyond. If possible, ask your partner to come with you. Even if you’ve had children before, and been there, done that, they’re still worth going to as you can meet other parents. Also don’t expect this pregnancy to be just like your others - your baby could have other plans.

Do your best to stop smoking, give up alcohol and go easy on the cappuccinos. We know that’s easy to say, but hard to do. Ask your midwife or GP for support.

During the winter, consider taking a daily dose of the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D. It’s recommended that you take 10 micrograms every day when you’re pregnant and breastfeeding. Find out if you’re entitled to free vitamins.

Get moving! It’s recommended that pregnant women do 150 minutes of exercise throughout the week. Perhaps take a brisk walk in the park, or go for a swim. If you start any classes, make sure the instructor knows that you’re pregnant. Don’t overdo it though - listen to your body.

Have a fit pregnancy and sign up for a free personal activity plan.

Don’t eat for two! Eat for you. Now you’re in the third trimester, you may need an extra 200 calories a day, but that’s not much. It’s about the same as two slices of wholemeal toast and margarine.

Try and eat healthily with plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and avoid processed, fatty and salty foods. You may be able to get free milk, fruit and veg through the Healthy Start scheme.

How are you today? If you’re feeling anxious or low, then talk to your midwife or doctor who can point you in the right direction to get all the support that you need. You could also discuss your worries with your partner, friends and family. You may be worried about your relationship, or money, or having somewhere permanent to live. Don’t bottle it up – you’re important, so ask for help if you need it!

Getting pregnant again is probably the last thing on your mind! However now is a good time to start planning what type of contraception you would like to use after your baby is born. Making this decision when you’re pregnant will give you one less thing to think about when you’re looking after a newborn baby. Getting pregnant again could happen sooner than you realise and too short a gap between babies is known to cause problems. Talk to your GP or midwife to help you decide and get everything in place.

This week's treat

Friends can be a brilliant support in pregnancy and beyond, so why not make a real effort to be sociable this week? You could invite a pal over for carrot and courgette muffins. Or you could even plan a baby shower! These parties are popular in many cultures, as a way of celebrating new life. The highlight is often a ceremonial cake cutting, where the baby's sex is revealed in the colour of the sponge - pink for a girl, blue for a boy!

Go back to week 30

Go to week 32

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