Week 31 of Your Pregnancy

A look at your body, your baby, and more

Welcome to week 31 of your pregnancy. You body and mind are both getting ready for baby’s arrival. If you haven’t experienced them yet, Braxton Hicks contractions may kick in this week.

week 31 pregnancy highlights
Illustration by Verywell 

Your Trimester: Third trimester

Weeks to Go: 9

You This Week

Whether you are planning to breastfeed or not, at 31 weeks pregnant, your breasts are getting ready. In fact, you may have even noticed either a creamy, yellowish or a thin, watery substance occasionally leaking from your nipples. This is the first sign of colostrum, or the premilk your body produces before both transitional breast milk and mature breast milk. If you decide to nurse your baby, colostrum will provide your baby with all of the calories and nutrients he or she requires for the first few days of life.

About half of all pregnant women will experience this type of leakage in the third trimester, notes Allison Hill, M.D., an OB-GYN in private practice in Los Angeles. Whether your breasts leak colostrum or not in no way reflects your body’s ability to produce breast milk.

While some women have already experienced Braxton Hicks, others will only begin to feel these practice contractions now. Unlike honest-to-goodness contractions, Braxton Hicks are brief (lasting from 30 seconds to up to two minutes); they do not move closer together or increase in intensity. Take these dry runs as opportunities to practice some of the breathing and coping mechanisms you’ve learned in birthing class.

If by chance your water breaks this week and you go into early labor, you’ll likely be given magnesium sulfate and corticosteroids. The former greatly reduce your baby’s risk of cerebral palsy and other brain development issues, and the latter speed baby’s lung development.

Your Baby This Week

Your baby-to-be is busily getting ready for the outside world by rapidly developing that all-important layer of fat under his or her skin. Not only does this fatty tissue insulate baby, it smooths out wrinkles, giving babies that fresh newborn look. (The fat also tamps down the red tint of baby’s skin, making way for newborn pink.)

By week’s close, your baby will likely weigh up to 4 pounds, which is only 3½ pounds shy of an average newborn’s weight. At the same time, your baby is more than 15½ inches long. (The typical newborn stretches between 19 and 21 inches at birth.)

At Your Doctor’s Office

In all likelihood, you have this week off from visiting your OB-GYN or midwife. However, if you are carrying multiples or experiencing complications, your healthcare provider may have you come in for an ultrasound.

Special Considerations

If your bump—or your baby—appears smaller than expected at this stage of your pregnancy, your healthcare provider may suspect oligohydramnios, which is presenting with the less-than-optimal amount of amniotic fluid. (Approximately 4 percent of pregnant women experience this.)

In order to properly diagnose oligohydramnios, your healthcare provider will measure the amount of amniotic fluid via ultrasound. While low fluid can be a sign of fetal distress, it does not impact fetal outcomes in the majority of cases.

That said, because you are not yet considered full-term until 39 weeks, your healthcare provider will likely monitor your amniotic fluid levels closely. You may also be given a non-stress test to monitor baby’s heart rate and/or a contraction stress test, which assesses heart rate and uterine contractions.

On the opposite end of the amniotic fluid spectrum is polyhydramnios, which is an excess of amniotic fluid that occurs in fewer than 1 percent of all pregnancies. As with oligohydramnios, this condition most often occurs in the last trimester and generally results in no harm to a mother or her baby. If it’s a concern for you, your healthcare provider will likely just have you come in more often for monitoring. 

Upcoming Doctor’s Visits

You’ll be back at your OB-GYN or midwife's office again next week for another prenatal checkup. For the most part, it will be the same old routine. However, if you have moderate to severe asthma, poorly controlled asthma, or if you’ve recently had a severe asthma attack, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests that your healthcare provider start regular ultrasounds to monitor fetal activity and growth. Bring up any of these issues during your visit.

Taking Care

It’s a good bet that you’ve been mulling over your baby-feeding options for a long while now. In addition to reading up on breast and bottle feeding, ask your healthcare provider, a lactation consultant, and friends and family who are seasoned moms lots of questions:

Hearing a wide range of perspectives and experiences can help you determine what you’d like to do. Also:

  • Find out what lactation services your insurance provider covers, if any.
  • Review your birthing plan to ensure that it supports breastfeeding, if that’s what you are planning on doing.
  • Research lactation consultants and breastfeeding classes in your neighborhood now. (Your healthcare provider and your pediatrician can point you in the right direction, as can other moms.)
  • Talk with your partner about your feeding plans and goals, so you are on the same page and can be properly supported.

For Partners

Exploring feeding options with your partner can be one of the more stressful aspects of transitioning to parenthood. “When considering feeding options, it's important for you both to assess, in an ongoing way, what you each expect to do, and, ultimately, what is realistic for you and your new baby,” says Shara Marrero Brofman, PsyD, a reproductive and perinatal psychologist at the Seleni Institute, a nonprofit organization that specializes in women’s maternal and reproductive mental health. “Often, parental stress happens when there’s a gap between expectations and reality.”

When talking everything over with mom-to-be, use your words wisely. “Even a simple, well-intended question, like, Are you planning on breastfeeding? can be a loaded one and send your partner into tears,” says Dr. Brofman. Instead, ask questions like, How do you think we should feed the baby?

Verywell Checklist

  • Continue taking prenatal vitamins.
  • Continue drinking about eight to 12 glasses of water a day.
  • Continue doing your Kegel exercises daily.
  • Reach out to lactation professional and moms to learn more about feeding options and support.
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