31st – Thirty-first week of pregnancy

31 week of pregnancy

Reaching week 31 of pregnancy means that you have already completed the first month of the third trimester , and are entering the eighth month of pregnancy.

After week 30, the chances of your baby surviving without pregnancy complications increase considerably from week to week .

If he were to be born now, he would have a more than 80% chance of surviving without having psychophysical abnormalities.

The choice of the hospital where to give birth

In view of the birth, you must bear in mind that birth centers in Italy are distinguished on the basis of the type of assistance they can offer. They are classified into,

  • first-level neonatology centres : these are those hospital structures where usually around 1,000 babies are born a year starting from 34 weeks of gestation, and which after birth are able to provide the newborn with basic care;
  • **second level neonatology centres: **these are hospital structures where more than 1,000 babies are born a year, and are organized to be able to manage a higher perinatal risk. For example, they manage an average of 50 newborns weighing less than 1.5 kg per year and also assist pathological newborns in need of intensive care.
  • tertiary-level neonatology centres : these are hospital facilities that assist high-risk pregnancies and deliveries,
    • have a catchment area of ​​at least 5,000 deliveries/year
    • they have a neonatal intensive care unit and a sub-intensive care unit;

In any case, keep the “birth bag” handy, especially if you are carrying twins, as after the 26th week , multiple pregnancies are always at a high risk of premature birth.

The essential things to include in the “birth bag”

When you have some free time, you can start buying at least the bare necessities for the baby as soon as it arrives home. Have you already decided where to put him to sleep, where to wash him and where to store his things?

The development of the child at the 31st week

The development of internal organs

The fetal lungs continue to mature, and are now able to function on their own; however in the case of a premature birth they would need medical assistance.

His kidneys and urinary tract are mature, and your baby passes about two cups of urine every day. In order to get rid of the waste materials of the fetus, your body changes the amniotic fluid many times a day

The development of the brain

These weeks ;finals; they are vital to the developing fetal brain, with trillions and trillions of neural connections forming, enabling your baby to use all five senses.

Brain scans being performed around this week show separate sleep cycles, indicating that your baby may already be dreaming about you.

At eight months of gestational age, infants may even be able to perceive – from the sound of voices – the emotions of the mother and those around her.

The outward appearance

With the layer of fat growing, the layer which has the task of keeping the baby warm in the uterus, the hair – called “lanugo” – which until now had performed this function, is falling out. However, when the baby is born, you may notice traces of this hair on its back and shoulders.

This layer of fat that surrounds him gives the baby a plumper appearance.

The development of the immune system

The last stage of pregnancy is crucial for the development of your immune system, which is preparing your baby for the outside world.

However, immediately after birth, the baby needs your colostrum and milk to strengthen its immune defenses and to fight infections and diseases.

The development of the reproductive organs

The thirty-first week is a significant milestone for the development of the reproductive system, as it is the week in which the testicles of the fetus move into the scrotum through the groin.

If you have a girl, her clitoris is almost fully developed, waiting to be covered by her vulva, which is still growing .

The development of the sensory organs

Now, the senses of sight and hearing are relatively mature.

The already developed neck and shoulders allow your baby to turn his head as a reaction to a sound or to light: now he could even “jump” (or make some spasmodic movement) in response to too loud and sudden noises, but also move rhythmically when he hears music he likes.

Although the fetus has a fairly developed sense of smell, it cannot smell anything as it is still immersed in the liquid.

Fetal movements

Your baby’s increased size is gradually limiting her space in the uterus and, therefore, she may not be able to kick and punch as she has in the past week.

During this time, your sleeping and waking times may become more defined.

If you should notice a rhythmic movement of hers that lasts a few minutes at a time, it is probably a fetal hiccup.

In many cases, the baby settles into the birth position (head down) by the 31st week; but it is also normal that he can still be in breech position (feet down) or transversal (lying on the side): however he still has time to rotate until he reaches the correct position.

Child size

The child is just over 40 centimeters long; it is the size of a pineapple, and weighs about 1.5 kilograms.

The twins in the 31st week of pregnancy

In twin pregnancies, the rate of growth slows slightly during this time as the babies are now competing for nutrients to gain enough weight before they are born, but this week the twins are as big as a single baby.

The changes in the woman’s body

The top of the uterus is now 10cm above your navel.

With an ideal weight gain – i.e. about half a kilo a week – in the third trimester you’ve already gained about 1-2 kilograms: your baby will still have another growth spurt before birth.

You may notice a thick yellowish fluid called colostrum leaking from your nipples as your body prepares to breastfeed.

However, it’s completely normal if this doesn’t happen, and you’ll still be able to breastfeed your baby once it’s born.

The ultrasound at the 31st week

Prenatal check-ups in week 31 consist of measuring blood pressure to assess the risks of hypertension and preeclampsia .

Your doctor may also order a urine test to check for the presence of protein.

An ultrasound this week shows that the baby is moving his hands and feet and turning his head, as well as having different facial expressions.

With a 3D ultrasound, you can see your baby as it will (almost) look when it is born.

The symptoms of the thirty-first week

In this period the most common symptoms consist of,

  • Braxton Hicks contractions;
  • shortness of breath with rib pain, as the uterus, which is growing, puts pressure on the lungs and rib cage (however, this does not harm the baby in any way, as he gets the oxygen he needs from the placenta) ;
  • indigestion and heartburn ;
  • bloating, bloating and constipation;
  • stretch marks;
  • itchy skin, especially of the abdomen, breasts and back;
  • varicose veins and hemorrhoids
  • insomnia and restless legs syndrome;
  • tiredness;
  • joint, hip and back pain;
  • pain in the round ligament of the uterus;
  • pelvic pain;
  • coccyx pain;
  • sciatica;
  • lack of coordination and pregnancy brain; (due, mainly, to changes in hormone levels);
  • mood swings and depression;
  • loss of appetite;
  • swelling of the hands and feet (due to increased blood flow and fluid retention);
  • leg cramps;
  • numbness or tingling in the hands (carpal tunnel syndrome);
  • linea nigra.

When to call the doctor

Contact your doctor in the following cases:

  • if you notice a decrease in fetal movements when you count the kicks (your baby should do 10 movements in 2 hours in his active periods), or any other change in his usual movement pattern;
  • contractions that become close together over time, along with sharp pain in the lower back, pressure in the pelvic area, flu-like symptoms (diarrhea, vomiting), vaginal bleeding, pinkish mucous discharge or mucus plug loss, clear fluid discharge and cramps (could be signs of premature birth);
  • increased thirst, dry mouth and frequent urination, together with tiredness or dizziness, sudden blurring of vision and recurring vaginal infections such as thrush (could indicate gestational diabetes )
  • pain or burning when urinating, dark or cloudy urine, thick and white or gelatinous and yellowish discharge, pain in the lower back (often around one of the kidneys) and nausea (symptoms that could indicate urinary tract infections or candidiasis;
  • sudden swelling of the face and hands, together with rapid weight gain, persistent headache , lightheadedness, shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, stomach pain, and sudden changes in vision (could indicate high blood pressure or preeclampsia);
  • copious watery straw-colored discharge (may be amniotic fluid leakage);
  • one-sided swelling of one foot (may indicate a blood clotting disorder).

Some useful tips for a healthy pregnancy and baby

Some useful tips for you, who are pregnant:

  • eat small and frequent meals, rather than three more abundant meals a day: this in order to facilitate digestion (in an already confined space) and to prevent indigestion and heartburn ;
  • Incorporate plenty of iron-rich foods into your daily diet, such as green leafy vegetables, red meat, nuts, grains and legumes, so that your body has enough iron for you and your baby (as he is storing iron which will help him grow after birth);
  • get enough vitamin C (fresh fruits and juices) to facilitate iron absorption;
  • take a warm (not too hot) bath with baking soda to better manage hemorrhoids;
  • avoid drinking water or fruit juices during meals, because they reduce the space for solid food;
  • do light physical activity, such as swimming or taking short walks twice a day, as advised by your doctor.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform, Maternicity.com.

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