Week 32 of Your Pregnancy

Pregnancy Week by Week: Week 32

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

At 32 weeks pregnant, it's highly likely that your baby has already turned head-down in your uterus preparing for birth. Baby is also getting better at regulating their body temperature, an important development for life outside the womb. Meanwhile, you may notice a change in your baby's movements as they have less room to move around.

32 Weeks Pregnant Is How Many Months? 8 months

Which Trimester? Third trimester

How Many Weeks to Go? 8 weeks

Your Baby's Development at 32 Weeks

At 32 weeks, a baby is over 11 1/2 inches (29.3 centimeters) from the top of their head to the bottom of their buttocks (known as the crown-rump length), and baby's height is about 16 1/4 inches (41.6 centimeters) from the top of their head to their heel (crown-heel length). This week, baby weighs over 4 pounds (1,901 grams).

Upside Down

About 97% of babies are born head first. So, as babies get closer to their birthday, they tend to turn upside down in the uterus to prepare. By 32 weeks, 85% of babies are in the head-down position.

But, don't worry if your baby hasn't turned yet. There's still time. Some babies wait a little longer. In fact, it can take up to 37 weeks for the full 97% to turn into position. Your provider will continue to monitor your baby's position with every prenatal visit.

Body Temperature

Your baby started putting on brown fat (the type of fat needed to keep warm after leaving the womb) in the middle of the second trimester. Now, at 32 weeks, baby's body has seen an increase in the production of a protein and an enzyme that are also necessary for generating body heat, which means they can now regulate their body temperature better.

Startle Reflex

Most babies display the startle or moro reflex by 32 weeks. A loud noise or a movement can cause the baby to suddenly throw their arms and legs away from their body then bring them back in. The baby also looks startled. Babies are born with the startle reflex, but it disappears a few months after birth.

Sleep Cycle

Your baby is also showing evidence of cycling through stages of sleep and awake times, and their brain activity now shows active sleep.

Survival Outside the Womb

At 32 weeks, babies reach a mini-milestone and move from the very preterm category to the moderate preterm category. Babies' lungs are continuing to develop at this stage, and they still need several more weeks to reach maturity.

Aside from this, babies are very much in the finishing-touches stage of development. A baby born at 32 weeks still needs a few weeks of care in a special care nursery or NICU, but the survival rate is 99%.

Explore a few of your baby's week 32 milestones in this interactive experience.

Your Common Symptoms This Week

As your baby is getting closer to maxing out the space in your growing uterus, you may notice some changes in the way they move. You may also find that symptoms related to the size of your bump like aches and pains and heartburn get a little worse.

Change in Movement

As your baby gets bigger, there's less room to move inside your uterus. So as the weeks go on, you may notice the formerly bold kicks becoming replaced wiggles, squirms, knocks, and nudges. The type of movement you feel is not as important as feeling it. If you notice a decrease in your baby's activity in general or during your daily kick counts, however, be sure to contact your doctor right away.

Heartburn

If you haven't experienced heartburn yet, it can still pop up. And, if you've been having it all along, it can get worse in the third trimester. On top of pregnancy hormones that slow down digestion and make it easier for food to back up into the esophagus, your uterus is now so big and heavy that it's putting a lot of pressure on your stomach. Heartburn affects about 22% of pregnancies in the first trimester, 39% in the second trimester, and up to 72% in the third trimester.

Self-Care Tips

At this point in pregnancy, you're likely splitting your time between managing discomforts and preparing for baby's arrival. This week, you might want to start thinking about what you'd like to bring with you to the hospital on delivery day.

Dealing With Heartburn

Heartburn can be painful and just plain uncomfortable. While you might not be able to avoid it entirely during pregnancy, thankfully, diet and lifestyle changes may help. If you're suffering from heartburn, try to:

  • Eat frequent, small meals instead of three large ones.
  • Eat more slowly and chew your food well.
  • Avoid lying down right after a meal.
  • Avoid eating before bed.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
  • Use alternative treatments such as acupuncture.
  • Talk to your doctor about safe treatment options, including safe over-the-counter medications like antacids.

Packing Your Hospital Bag

There’s nothing like packing your hospital or birthing center bag to feel a smidge more prepared for baby’s arrival. You may also want to include some items for the new person you will be taking home. (Note: Though you may want to dress your baby in items from home during your stay, some hospitals do not permit this, so it’s worth an ask before packing.)

Here are a few things to think about gathering and organizing ahead of time depending on what your hospital or birth center provides:

  • Health insurance card and identification
  • Pre-registration forms for the hospital (Bring an extra set, even if you already submitted one.)
  • Copy of your birth plan
  • Cord blood kit, if privately banking
  • Toiletries such as deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo, soap, hairbrush, hair ties, lotion, contact lenses and solution, glasses, lip balm, etc.
  • Medications (Bring anything you take regularly, but talk to your care team before taking them once admitted; you may need to get prescribed by on-site practitioners.)
  • Robe and nightgown (Make it an open-in-the-front nursing nightgown if you’re planning on breastfeeding.)
  • Slippers for safer walking during labor and extra socks
  • Mints, lollipops, or other hard candies
  • Snacks that are easy on your digestion like crackers
  • Pillow from home in a colored pillowcase to distinguish it from hospital or birthing center pillows
  • Phone charger; battery pack; and any photo or video must-haves on your list
  • Nursing pillow
  • Going-home outfit for you (Choose something comfortable that you wore when you were around six months pregnant.)
  • Two easy-to-put-on going-home outfits for baby (just in case), booties, and baby hats (Many moms like kimono-style onesies, which go on like jackets instead of shirts.)
  • Newborn mittens to prevent scratches
  • Swaddling blankets
  • Heavy-flow sanitary pads
  • Newborn diapers and wipes

Your Week 32 Checklist

Advice for Partners

While it’s a no-brainer that your partner will need to pack an overnight bag before heading to the hospital or birthing center, don’t forget to pack your bag, too. Even if you don’t plan to stay overnight, you may be there longer than you expect. Grab a duffle and think about adding the following for delivery day:

  • Toiletries, prescription eyewear, any medications you might need
  • Change of clothes, plus a bathing suit if a water birth is planned
  • Phone charger; battery pack; and any photo or video must-haves
  • If smartphone-free, a watch with a second hand (for contraction timing)
  • List of everyone you’re supposed to call or text once labor kicks in and/or baby arrives (if applicable)
  • Snacks, as well as change for the vending machines
  • Any labor support tools that you and your partner discuss, such as speakers, massage oil, or stress balls
  • Any handouts or notes from childbirth class that you might want to reference

At Your Doctor’s Office

You may be back at your doctor's office for another regular visit this week. You know the prenatal visit routine pretty well by now, which will include:

  • Weight check
  • Blood pressure check
  • Urine test
  • Swelling check
  • Fundal height measurement (now around 32 centimeters, give or take a centimeter or two)
  • Listening to baby's heartbeat
  • Discussion of symptoms
  • Answers to your questions

Weight Gain

Just as your baby continues to grow late into your pregnancy, so do you. The recommended weight gain for those with a normal body mass index (BMI: 18.5—24.9) at the start of pregnancy is 25 to 35 pounds.

In most cases, you should be gaining roughly a pound a week. Based on this loose guideline, you may have gained approximately 23 pounds from the start of your pregnancy to now. Of course, every pregnancy is different, so talk to your doctor about how much weight you have gained to be sure you're on the right track for your health.

Position of the Baby

Your provider may also feel your belly to check the position of your baby. As you get closer to your due date, baby should turn to the head-down position.

Upcoming Doctor’s Visits

You will likely continue the every other week visit schedule until you reach 36 weeks, at which point, most providers will want to see you every week until you deliver. Your next routine prenatal visit will likely be around 34 weeks.

A test for a bacteria called group B strep (GBS) is recommended between 36 and 38 weeks.

Special Considerations

If your pregnancy is considered high-risk, you are carrying more than one baby, or your doctor wants to check on your baby's well-being, you may be scheduled for a few additional tests beginning at week 32.

Fetal Non-Stress Test

The fetal non-stress test (NST) monitors the baby's heart rate as they move. For this test, you are hooked up to an external fetal monitor. The baby's heart rate should go up when they move, but sometimes it takes a while to observe this pattern if the baby is sleeping.

When the test is reactive or shows two or more increases in heart rate in 20 to 40 minutes, it is a good sign that the baby is doing well. If the baby's heart rate doesn't go up or it goes down during the test, your doctor will likely order additional testing.

Biophysical Profile

The biophysical profile (BPP) is offered after 32 weeks for high-risk pregnancies and those experiencing complications. (It’s also sometimes given to women who’ve passed their due date.)

BPP is painless and begins with a detailed ultrasound during which the technician assesses your amniotic fluid levels, baby’s muscle tone, and baby’s body and breathing movements. Since digestion can stimulate these movements, you may be advised to eat a meal prior to coming in.

The ultrasound is generally followed by a non-stress test, where the baby's heart rate and possible uterine contractions are monitored. For this portion, you’ll be asked to lay on your side while two monitoring belts are secured around your abdomen.

Your doctor may instead call for a "modified biophysical profile," which is a combination of the non-stress test (NST) and a measurement of the amniotic fluid. After your physician or midwife reviews the results of the BPP or modified BPP, they will determine if it’s in your baby’s best interest to deliver earlier than planned.

Contraction Stress Test

The contraction stress test monitors how well your baby handles contractions. For this test, you are hooked up to a fetal monitor. If you aren't having contractions on your own, you may be asked to stimulate your nipples to induce contractions or you may be given a medication to start contractions. Depending on the baby's response to your contractions, the doctor will determine if the baby can stay healthy and get enough oxygen during labor.

Doppler of Umbilical Artery

The doppler of the umbilical artery is an ultrasound of the umbilical cord to check the blood flowing to the baby. This umbilical artery brings oxygen to nutrients to the baby. If there is an issue with the flow of blood, it could indicate a problem with the pregnancy or the baby's growth.

A Word From Verywell

With just eight weeks to go before your expected due date, time may feel like it's simultaneously speeding up and slowing down. By now, hopefully you've become a pro at listening to your body—don't stop now. Take your body's cues for when to slow down or power through and remember that in a few short weeks, you'll be nearing the finish line.

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