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31 Weeks Pregnant


Image: Fetal Development At 31 Weeks

Your bump is pretty big by now, but believe it or not your baby is going to grow a lot bigger still! If you’re pregnant with twins then as you’d expect, space is pretty limited so don’t be surprised if you feel a bit less movement.

From crown to toe, your little one is now about 39cm. You’ll be relieved to know his length growth will slow down soon but he will keep gaining weight until the birth. He’s likely to weight about 1.3kg now.

Baby’s digestive tract and lungs are almost fully developed. With eyes opening and shutting inside you, he can see inside your uterus and even tell light from dark! If you were to shine a light on your stomach, he might reach out a hand trying to touch the glow! Baby can now bat his eyelashes and even has eyebrows. If you’re expecting a boy then his testes are descending right now.

Some researchers think that you can help your little one’s visual development by baring your belly to light. But he still won’t see much as a newborn. In fact children with normal vision don’t develop 20/20 sight (that of an adult) until as old as eight. When you’re holding him in your arms on delivery day, he won’t be able to see further than about 20 or 30 centimetres. Just as long as he can see you and Dad, that’s the most important thing!

Right now your baby sits in about a litre of amniotic fluid but did you know it will decrease as he gets bigger and needs more room?

You’re gaining weight rapidly at the moment – probably at least a pound a week. You might find that your bump is making love-making a bit trickier but there are plenty of positions that are comfortable for your shape (read our sex in pregnancy article for some helpful tips). This week you will have another antenatal appointment so it’s a good time to talk to your midwife about any annoying late pregnancy symptoms like backache, insomnia or heartburn.
I can’t decide on pain relief for labour…
The first thing to remember is to be open-minded. Many women are committed to a natural birth and ending up seeing that through. Others are certain they will do it completely through breathing and hypnotherapy then when the big day comes they find they need pain relief.

None of the approaches to pain relief are right or wrong. It all depends on you and the circumstances of your birth.

Many women find a good approach is to put in place all the ‘self-help’ preparations they can first, such as to:

  • Learn about labour, which could make you more relaxed when the big event happens
  • Practice breathing techniques in your antenatal class and in between classes
  • Find out about hypnotherapy options (giving birth in water) which can help you to relax. You might also want to have a warm (but not hot!) bath in the early stages of labour
  • Figure out who your birth partner(s) will be. This can help you to feel more reassured and relaxed
  • Ask your birth partner to massage you (although some women find they don’t want to be touched)
  • Move around. Sometimes a change of position can help, for example rocking backwards and forwards, walking around or kneeling.

In addition to these measures, women may make different choices about pain relief. For example some women choose to have an epidural, which numbs the area for the birth. Others have injections such as pethidine or diamorphine, which can aid relaxation and ease pain.

Many mums-to-be find they can pull through labour with gas and air. Gas and air is a combination of oxygen and nitrous oxide gas. You can control it yourself manually, and many women prefer it for that reason. It won’t take all the pain away but it will make the birth more manageable.

Many hospitals have TENS machines and you might want to try this method. TENS is said to work by stimulating your own body’s ability to produce endorphins (natural painkillers). Electrodes taped to your back are connected by wires to a small hand-held stimulator. This means you can control the process; giving yourself safe amounts of current when you choose.

Still other women try complementary therapies like acupuncture or hypnosis to try to ease the pain and some have praised these methods.

Ultimately there are going to be pros and cons to any method of pain relief. The key is to think well beforehand but be preferred for any changes that may arise on the big day. Talk it through with your doctor or midwife. By all means chat to other mums about it but trust your own feelings and wishes.

Possible Scan at Week 31
A 3D Ultrasound is a special scan that shows the baby in three dimensions. This forms part of a 4D Scan. The 4D Scan has the additional dimension of time so that you see a moving image.

Many parents choose to have a scan in 3/4D because they’re curious to see their baby’s face and find that it really enhances the bond with their little one. Parents often find it reassuring, not to mention exciting – especially the prospect of showing their child a moving image of themselves in the womb in later years.

Possible Scan at Week 31
The purpose of a Well-being Scan is to check that the baby is growing well and that the pregnancy is developing normally. You may want to have this scan if your baby has been moving less, if you have had unusual tummy pains, light bleeding or if you have had some kind of accident (for example on the road or in a fall).

A Wellbeing Scan is particularly important if you have had pregnancy complications or problems in a previous pregnancy. This scan is usually only offered by the NHS if there is a complication with the pregnancy.

Possible Scan at Week 31
A Sexing Scan (also sometimes called a Gender Identification Scan) can be performed to find out the sex of your baby at this stage.

The baby will also be measured and your medical professional will assess his or her wellbeing. Sexing scans are highly reliable but can be more difficult if a woman is very overweight, or if the baby is in an unfavourable position.

Gender Scan or Sexing Scan

Gender Scan (Boy) Picture (Click image to enlarge)

Generally, if a healthcare professional is unsure about the sex of your baby they won’t guess. But thankfully it’s very unusual to be unable to determine the sex of the baby.