Labor, Delivery & Life Beyond

Pregnancy Health & Complications

Preparing For Your Baby

Stages of Your Pregnancy


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Podcast Details:

4.40 MB | 6:20 Min

Experts In This Episode:

This is your Pea in the Podcast for week 31 of your pregnancy. I’m Bonnie Petrie joined by Dr. Laurie Swaim, an obstetrician with Houston Women’s Care Associates in Houston, Texas.

Well you have made into the single digits when it comes to weeks remaining in your pregnancy, woohoo! You and your OB or midwife, well you’re getting quite cozy indeed with your appointments every other week. So what happens during these appointments? “You come in and you pee, the nurse dips your urine for protein, you have your blood pressure checked and your weight. The nursing assistant usually listens to the baby’s heartbeat and then although I always measure the fundal height, look at the vitals and kind of look the ankles, that kind of stuff. Most of our visit is really just discussion, we ask you ‘how are you, baby moving okay?’ and sometimes people don’t have much to say, and frankly I don’t have much to say. If she’s doing well, she’s doing well. Typically I’ll pick a subject to talk about, if I haven’t already broached the subject of pediatricians with them then we’ll talk about pediatricians and how to help her find one for example. If we haven’t discussed how they’re going to feed the baby, then we do that. If they want to talk about cord blood banking, so I try and sort of pick one subject each visit.”

Now if you have an appointment and get weighed this week, how much will you have gained? “Probably somewhere around 20 or 25 pounds, somewhere around 20 pounds, but once again it’s a huge wide range, I don’t want to give anyone the impression that they’re supposed to have gained a certain exact poundage because remember we talked about over the entire pregnancy. So if a woman’s only gained 15 pounds but her baby’s growing fine then we’re okay. If she’s gained 45 pounds then so be it.” At this point your weight gain should stabilize to about a pound a week, you may be experiencing those Braxton Hicks practice contractions these days too, they’re the ones that are irregular and unpredictable and usually not painful but if you’re having four or more an hour you should let your doctor know. In addition to protein, which can be a sign of preecalmpsia, your urine will be checked for sugar and infection at your appointments. When your doc checks for the location of your uterus it should be able five fingers below the point where your ribs meet right now. Your doctor will also be checking to see if your baby’s turning toward a head down position in preparation for birth.

Now you may have expected pregnancy symptoms like swelling and back aches and the constant need to pee but your mother may not have prepared you for some other common pregnancy symptoms like vivid dreams. “It’s not really something that my patients have discussed much with me but yes very vivid dreams and some of them involve sexual exploits.” Now some moms admit that their possibly hormone driven dreams can get quite x-rated and odd too. Sometimes though they’re disturbing dreams, even nightmares. You may dream that you dropped your baby or even intentionally harmed it, these dreams are likely related to your absolutely normal anxiety about the pending birth. Now moms who have opted not to learn their baby’s gender will sometimes dream about it, others will dream that their baby tells them their name. Dr. Patricia Garfield, the author of the book Creative Dreaming says a woman has more dreams when she’s pregnant than any other time in her life.

Now you may expect this symptom during menopause but not necessarily during your pregnancy; Dr. Swaim says you may feel hot, “It’s funny because sometimes our exam room is freezing and I’ll walk in and I’m like ‘it’s so cold’ and they’re like ‘I’m fine’. So yeah, I mean they have two 98.6s instead of one and much greater blood flow, etc. So definitely.” You may also start to get spider veins on your face, neck, upper chest and arms; they’ll just be tiny red blooms of blood vessels. You may also get varicose veins, blue or reddish lines beneath the surface of the skin there. Kind of unsightly and you may not like them, they’re most likely to appear on your legs, they can appear in other places like your labia, and hemorrhoids are really nothing more than varicose veins in your rectum. About 10% of moms get them; they should though, thankfully, go away after birth. Talk to your doctor about tem if they hurt, compression stocking, for the ones on your legs, may help.

A mom to be may also be concerned right now; she doesn’t yet feel awash in maternal feelings. She may feel deficient in some ways and not all warm and fuzzy about her life and her little one on the way but rest assured that is completely normal too and not any indication at all that you’re going to be an unfit mother. Some women won’t feel that special bond with their baby until birth and for some it takes even longer. If you’re anxious about this at all please talk to your doctor or midwife.

Now back to the symptoms that you might expect but may not like. Your uterus may be aching quite a bit as this expansion continues. Your rib cage and pelvis may also be sore as baby begins to take up every last inch of space in there. You may find yourself breathless more often than you had at any other point in your pregnancy but you want to remain active. Your activity may have to become somewhat gentler, leisurely walks and the careful stretching that comes with prenatal yoga practice may be very beneficial to you now without adding any strain to your already straining body.

How about the baby? Well their brain is going through another rapid phase in development; nerve cells are connecting like crazy. Your baby can now make out voices rather than just vibration. Their eyesight is sharpening, they may track moving objects with their eyes now and when they blink their iris responds to light and dark. Their lungs and digestive track are very nearly mature now. They’re packing on white fat and no longer appear red; they’re lightening up to pink. They’re starting to fill out and they’re getting cuter every minute. This week your baby will weigh almost three and half pounds and will be about 18 inches long. You’re now 31 weeks pregnant; you have nine weeks to go until week 40.

That’s your Pea in the Podcast for week 31 of your pregnancy. Dr. Swaim and I look forward to talking to you again next week. Enjoy this week. For a transcript of any of our Pea in the Podcasts go to our website For Pea in the Podcast, I’m Bonnie Petrie, thanks for listening.