31st Week Pregnancy: Symptoms, Baby Development And Body Changes

31st Week Pregnancy

Image: Shutterstock

How Many Months Pregnant Are You At 31 Weeks?

At 31 weeks, you are in the third trimester and a week short of ending the seventh month. You will soon be in the eighth month.

Here, MomJunction tells you about fetal development and the changes that you experience in the 31st week.

Back to top

How Big Is Your Baby In This Week?

At 31 weeks, your baby is about the size of a coconut (1). Your baby measures 16.18in (41.1cm) in length and weighs about 3.31lb (1.5kg) (2).

Back to top

Baby Development At 31 Weeks

Here is how the baby is developing in this week:

Baby Development At 31 Weeks

Body partsDevelopmental stage
Skin (3)Looks smooth and less wrinkled. Fats get deposited under the skin layer
Lungs (4)Still developing
BonesFully developed but are soft
Eyes (5)Are open, and the pupil can respond to light. Regular sleeping patterns are developed
EarsCould get startled by loud noises
BrainDeveloping faster and sending out a lot of signals
Heart (6)More than 40 million heartbeats have occurred by this time
Kidneys (7)Starts producing urine
MouthThe baby starts to suckle and swallow and can get hiccups
Senses (8)The baby can see, hear, taste, and feel the touch but cannot smell until delivery
Lanugo (9)Begins to disappear

Back to top

Pregnancy Symptoms You Experience In The 31st Week?

[ Read: Unborn Baby’s Development ]

Here are a few symptoms you may experience this week:

  1. Weight gain: By the 31st week, the weight gain should be as follows (10):
Body weightNormal weightOverweight Obese
Weight gain27-39lb22-35lb18-30lb
  1. Shortness of breath as the diaphragm is pushed upward by the growing uterus. Breathing exercises can help you get relief.
  1. Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular, less painful contractions that help the body prepare for labor. Drinking plenty of water and changing your positions can relieve the discomfort.
  1. Frequent urination due to the pressure exerted by the growing uterus on the bladder.
  1. Backaches because of the burden of carrying the extra weight of the baby.
  1. Headaches due to the hormonal fluctuations, stress, or dehydration.
  1. Diarrhea as the hormonal changes can slow down the digestion process. You could also become sensitive to certain foods, which can lead to diarrhea. In such a case, drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
  1. Clumsiness due to to the postural changes and a shift in the center of gravity of your body.
  1. Insomnia because of body aches, heartburn, and frequent urination.
  1. Forgetfulness due to stress and hormonal changes.
  1. Round ligament pain as the abdominal ligaments and muscles stretch.
  1. Edema of the feet and hands, which swell due to water retention in the body.
  1. Varicose veins because the growing uterus applies pressure on the on the veins that carry blood from your legs to the pelvic area, restricting proper flow.
  1. Hemorrhoids develop near the rectal area due to pressure exerted by the uterus on the veins. They are painful and itchy.
  1. Sciatica – when the growing uterus puts pressure on the sciatic nerves, you experience excruciating pain in the back and at the back of the legs.

While these are some of the health issues you might face in this week, there are also some other changes happening in your body and mind. Let’s see what they are.

Back to top

[ Read: 32nd Week Pregnant ]

Changes In The Body At 31 Weeks

Here are some physical and emotional changes that occur in your body:

Physical changes:

  • Due to the hormonal fluctuations, the nails become dry and brittle and could break easily.
  • Yellow liquid, called colostrum, starts leaking from the nipples.
  • The bump is bigger as the baby is growing in size. If you are carrying twins, then the belly looks more bulged. The linea nigra gets darker and prominent.
  • The areolas get darker, and the nipples become erect and hard.
  • The stretch marks are more prominent with the expanding belly.
  • The blue veins are visible around the breasts and the thighs, due to the increased supply of blood to these areas.

Emotional changes:

  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings

So, how is the baby doing this week?

Back to top

Fetal Movements And Position During The 31st Week Of Pregnancy

The baby movements will be strong this week, but the frequency of movements might reduce to some extent. Since the baby is growing, the space inside the uterus is not enough for the baby to move freely.

Back to top

Preterm Labor At 31 Weeks Of Pregnancy

Labor that starts between 20 and 37 weeks of pregnancy is termed as preterm or premature labor (11). Babies born between 29 and 34 weeks are considered very premature (12). The following symptoms could indicate preterm labor, which needs immediate medical attention (13):

  • One contraction every 10 minutes or more, often within one hour (five or more contractions in an hour)
  • Fluid leak from your vagina (rupture of the amniotic sac)
  • Period-like cramps
  • Low, dull backache
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea
  • An unusual or sudden increase of vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding

[ Read: 34th Week Pregnant ]

Risk factors for preterm labor include (14):

  • Previous preterm labor
  • Abnormalities of reproductive organs like short cervix
  • Pregnancy with multiple babies
  • Vaginal infections like bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis
  • High blood pressure
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Pregnancy resulting from in vitro fertilization
  • Not enough gap between pregnancies (less than six months)
  • Rupture of the uterus, if you have had a prior C-section or a uterine fibroid removed.
  • Being underweight or obese before pregnancy
  • Certain developmental abnormalities in the fetus
  • Age of the mother (less than 18 years and more than 35 years)
  • Blood clotting problems
  • Placenta previa
  • Diabetes (high blood sugar) and gestational diabetes (which occurs only during pregnancy)
  • African American ethnicity
  • External factors like exposure to certain environmental pollutants
  • Smoking, drinking alcohol, using illegal drugs
  • Stress
  • Lack of societal support
  • Domestic violence, including physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
  • Long working hours that involve hours of standing

If you are carrying twins and have any complications like high blood pressure or gestational diabetes, then the doctor might suggest early delivery. In some instances, the doctor will induce labor followed by a C-section.

Back to top

Other Symptoms To Look Out For

Call the doctor immediately in the case of:

  • Sudden swelling of hands and legs
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Dry mouth (increased thirst)
  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • A significant drop in the baby’s movements (moves less than ten times in two hours)

Otherwise, go for your regular prenatal checkup without fail.

Back to top

Your OB/GYN Visit

During your prenatal visit this week, the doctor will:

  • Advise a urine test to check the protein or sugar level
  • Check your blood pressure
  • Weight
  • Swelling of hands, feet and other parts of the body
  • Measure the size of the womb
  • Monitor the fetal heart rate

In case you have gestational diabetes, an ultrasound may be done to check the fetal position and the development of the baby.

[ Read: 33rd Week Pregnant ]

You are likely to have the below tests:

  • Fetal fibronectin (15): This test is performed to determine the possibility of a preterm. The cervical fluid is analyzed for a glycoprotein called fibronectin, which is found between the amniotic sac and the uterine lining. A positive test result can be an indication of preterm labor or any other complications. However, a negative result can avoid unnecessary hospitalization.

If the test results are normal and your doctor gives you a clean bill of health, all you need to do is follow a healthy diet and regimen for a smooth delivery.

Back to top

Tips For Mom-to-be

  • Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
  • Stick to a healthy lifestyle and eat home cooked food. Include fish like pollock, salmon, shrimp, catfish, anchovies, and cod that are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Avoid shark, tilefish, king mackerel and swordfish as they contain high levels of mercury.
  • Quit smoking, drinking alcohol and excess caffeine intake.
  • Continue taking prenatal vitamin supplements like folic acid and iron.
  • Engage in moderate physical activities like walking. You can also consider Pilates to strengthen your pelvic floor and back muscles.
  • Keep stress at bay.
  • Get enough rest.
  • Do not take any medication without the doctor’s permission.
  • Wear loose, breathable clothes.
  • Maintain oral hygiene.
  • Avoid exposure to toxic chemicals.
  • Avoid cleaning cat litter to avoid toxoplasmosis.
  • Avoid strenuous activity.
  • Always sleep on your side.
  • Attend childbirth classes to prepare yourself for labor and delivery.
  • Carry fruits and snacks with you, if you are working and want to eat healthy when outside.
  • Spend more time with family and friends.
  • Start looking for baby names.
  • Shop for cribs and other furniture for the baby’s room.
  • Read books, watch movies and do anything that makes you happy.

As you near the due date, handling everything on your own becomes difficult. When you need help, reach out to your partner.

Back to top

Tips For Dad-to-be

Here’s what your partner can do:

  • Help with household chores by sharing the responsibilities.
  • Create a good environment at home.
  • Attend all the prenatal visits with you.
  • Plan for maternal shopping and outings.
  • Give you a good neck and foot massage.

Back to top

[ Read: 14th Week Pregnant ]

As the baby grows and moves more, the feeling that you’re carrying a real person inside you becomes more evident to you. And before you know, your baby will be in your arms. Until then, stay healthy and safe.

Do you have any experience to share with us? Let us know in the comments section.

Recommended Articles:

Click
The following two tabs change content below.
Profile photo of shreeja pillai

shreeja pillai

Postgraduate in Chemistry and content writer. She has worked as a research analyst with a leading multinational pharmaceutical company and also holds a diploma in pharmaceutical regulatory affairs. Her interest in the field of medical research has developed her passion for writing research-based articles. She is a writer for MomJunction and aims at providing informative articles based on health and wellness. Apart from writing, she takes a great interest in music and traveling.
Featured Image