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32 Weeks Pregnant


Image: Fetal Development At 32 Weeks

More than ever, your baby looks like a newborn. If you were to have a 4D Scan now you could see her little face and movements and get a real sense of how she’ll look on the big day. Crown to toe she measures about 41cm. Her legs, body and arms are filling out and are now in proportion to her head, finally!

You might have noticed that your little one isn’t moving as much right now. That’s because space is at a premium inside you and long gone are the days when she could turn somersaults – although you should still feel her kicking and squirming.

This may make you gasp when you look at your already sizeable bump but she still has quite a lot of growing to do. She’ll probably gain about 900g before birth.
Baby’s organs are continuing to develop and she can even have a pee from her own bladder! Her bone marrow has now taken over the production of red blood cells from her liver.

This month you’ve gained a fair amount of weight – probably between 1.3kg and 1.8kg. Don’t worry, it will all be worth it in the end, and after pregnancy there’s always spinning class!
I’m getting really heavy now and my back is really hurting!
The dreaded backache. Sadly, back pain is all too common in pregnancy. It’s estimated that between half and three quarters of pregnant women have it at some point. But the good news is there’s plenty you can do to soothe it and prevent it becoming a long-term problem.

Occasionally, women who had back pain before pregnancy find it actually improves through pregnancy. With the right treatment and information, back pain normally won’t cause problems in labour.

What causes back pain in pregnancy?
There are two types of back pain that pregnant women may experience.

  • ‘True back pain’. This stems from the same factors as it does in non-pregnant women with back pain.
  • Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) which is back pain as a result of pregnancy. This needs to be treated very differently to normal back pain.

True back pain happens when your ligaments, discs, muscles and joints experience strain through bad posture, poor lifting techniques, tight or weak muscles or an injury. If this is the problem then you are likely to have had it prior to pregnancy. True back pain often worsens at the end of the day or if you have been on your feet for quite a while. The reason for this is that your muscles get fatigued and your ligaments stretch from the weight of your baby and your own body.

Some women (only about 1%) will experience sciatica while pregnant. This is brought on by pressure from the back causing the sciatic nerve (running from your lower back down to your feet) to become painful. Sometimes this also causes weakness or pain in your legs or even pins and needles.

Many people think sciatica in pregnancy is caused by the baby pressing on a nerve. This is not the cause and in fact if you do experience sciatica in pregnancy it most likely would have come on anyway.

Pelvic Girdle Pain is brought on by pregnancy and requires a very different response to true back pain. In fact standard back pain treatments are ineffective for PGP and can even worsen the pain.

What can I do to soothe my back pain?
There are some general suggestions that many women have found helpful for easing back pain in pregnancy. Fingers crossed!

  • Exercise: Tummy and pelvic floor exercises can relieve the strain on your back. Get on your hands and knees and flatten your back. Inhale, and then as you exhale squeeze in your pelvic floor muscles and draw your belly button up and in. Keep squeezing for 5-10 seconds but don’t hold your breath or move your back. Then slowly relax the muscles.
  • Massage: This can be really helpful for aching muscles and justifies some well-deserved attention (every cloud has a silver lining!). Lean forwards or lie on your side and ask your partner to massage your lower back (gently) and the muscles either side of your spine. You might also want to seek further help from a trained therapist, physiotherapist or your midwife.
  • The right posture: If you’re experiencing pain over your coccyx (tailbone), avoid slumping while seated and arch your back as much as is comfortably possible. You could also try sitting on a cushioned ring or a wedge-shaped or soft cushion.
  • Swimming: There’s a good chance your local pool offers aquanatal classes, which can be really helpful for back pain in pregnancy.
  • Acupuncture: Some women have found this to be very helpful but you must make sure you consult a practitioner who is properly trained and experienced in treating pregnant women.
  • Maternity pillows: Many women sleeping with a wedge-shaped pillow can help. It’s also important to adopt a good sleeping position to avoid unnecessary strain. See our article on sleep in pregnancy for more information.
  • Heat: A warm bath (but not hot, of course!) or a hot pack can help to soothe the pain. Some women find spraying their back with warm water from the shower head can help.
  • Support belts: Okay so these aren’t sexy but they can really make the difference for some women. They work by relieving some of the baby bump weight from your back and tummy muscles.

When should I seek help from a specialist for my back pain in pregnancy?
If you think you might have sciatica or PGP or you are experiencing back pain and these sorts of suggestions haven’t been effective, ask to be referred to a physiotherapist. Your doctor or in some cases your midwife can provide a referral. A qualified, registered osteopath or chiropractor can also sometimes help.

Possible Scan at Week 32
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 32
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 32
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.