Welcome to Scary Mommy’s pregnancy week by week guide! We’re here to give you all the info about what to expect when you’re expecting: be it week by week symptoms, your baby’s development, your changing body, or ultrasounds and appointments. Here’s everything you need to know about week 31.
Your Body at Week 31 Pregnant
Thought Leaking Only Happened After Birth? Think Again
Everyone tells you about the possibility of your breasts springing a leak after your baby is born, but you may notice a sticky, yellowish substance oozing from your breasts around 31 weeks pregnant. This is your colostrum, or pre-milk — the first stage of breast milk that comes in during pregnancy. This superfood for your newborn will only last for a few days after birth but is packed with everything your baby needs to transition to life post-womb.
The leaking at this stage should be minimal but, if it bothers you, you can always stock up on nursing pads. They could prove particularly useful once your milk fully comes in after birth.
Your Cups Runneth Over
Speaking of breasts, you may notice that yours are feeling noticeably heavier. As your body grows, so do your breasts. Every woman is different, meaning you could experience rapid breast growth early on, or it may be more gradual. Per Medela, though, your breasts are likely to be nearly one-and-a-half times bigger by the time your milk comes in than they were before pregnancy. If you haven’t already invested in a maternity bra, now’s the time.
Have the Sex Talk
With so much extra blood coursing through your bod, you might feel super-frisky. Make sure both your partner and your OB are comfortable with bedroom shenanigans at this stage of the pregnancy.
Your Hands (& Other Stuff) Might Hurt
You’re probably getting used to your pregnant body’s aches and pains by now. But you know how that goes, right? The minute you think you have it all figured out, Mother Nature throws you another curveball — and at 31 weeks pregnant, it could be hand pain in the form of carpal tunnel syndrome. The hand pain could also be localized to your thumb thanks to a little-known cousin of carpal tunnel called de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, also known as “baby wrist” or “new mom thumb.” Fluid retention during pregnancy is suspected to be the cause of both conditions in expectant mothers.
If you’re noticing your stomach hurts now too, it isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. It could be due to gas and bloating, Braxton Hicks, or round ligament pain. But if your stomach pain feels severe or persistent, or you experience spotting or bleeding, fever, chills, lightheadedness, burning when you pee, nausea, or vomiting, check in with your OB-GYN.
Your Baby at Week 31 Pregnant
The UFO (unidentifiable fetus object) you spotted during your first ultrasound is starting to look more and more like a newborn. As they continue to gain weight, fat accumulates under their skin, giving them that sweet and squishy baby look we all love. At 31 weeks pregnant, your baby is over 15.5 inches in length and weighs from 3 ½ to 4 pounds. So, the size of a personal pizza. As space closes in on your cute little extra cheese and basil pie, they’ll start to snuggle into the fetal position and (hopefully) prepare to assume the ideal head-down birth position.
Baby is Starting to Use Their Senses
Major brain and nerve development continues for baby during this week. In fact, your baby’s brain will double in weight from now to 40 weeks. Plus, it’s processing information and perceiving signals from all five senses. Baby can now taste, hear, see, and feel. Their brain is perceiving signals from their sense of smell, but that won’t come until after birth (amniotic fluid makes sniffing tricky!).
Your Symptoms and Health at Week 31 Pregnant
Your Back Still Hurts
In news that will likely shock no pregnant woman at 31 weeks, your back probably still hurts. It makes sense that it would, considering it’s having to curve to accommodate your ever-burgeoning belly. Still, that pain could be one of the many contributing factors to the restless nights you’ve been having. To alleviate tension, consider prenatal yoga to stretch out those muscles (always consult with your doctor before introducing any new exercise, though).
Like back pain, many of the symptoms you experienced at 30 weeks pregnant have carried over to 31 weeks — think frequent urination, increased clumsiness, shortness of breath, heartburn, and maybe even pregnancy-induced sciatica.
Brace Yourself for Braxton Hicks
While Braxton Hicks contractions can start as early as the second trimester, the third trimester may see an uptick in these “practice contractions” as your body prepares for childbirth. When they occur, the muscles of your uterus will typically tighten for 30 to 60 seconds, although these contractions can last as long as two minutes.
Pregnancy Brain Will, Wait, What Was I Saying?
Yep, this phenomenon is the real deal. Per the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a 2016 study out of Leiden University in the Netherlands showed that pregnancy actually changes the architecture of a woman’s brain in ways that last for at least two years. This includes shrinking brain cell volume, which affects processing and responding to social signals. Don’t worry; your missing gray matter will return a few days after delivery. It’s these brain changes’ side effects — forgetfulness, spacing out, inability to focus, mental fogginess — that stick around for a bit longer.
Hemorrhoids May Rear Their Ugly Head
As much as you don’t want to hear it and we don’t want to say it, we have to — this week could also bring about hemorrhoids. Unfortunately, these are caused by another pesky pregnancy prob: constipation. That, plus increased pressure on your rectum and perineum, can lead to these literal pains in the butt. The issue should resolve after delivery, but you can help relieve hemorrhoids by taking warm baths with baking soda or using witch hazel to reduce swelling and bleeding.
Now that your twins are well over 3 pounds, is it any wonder your hips and pelvis are aching as much as they are? Your body is getting ready for the pair’s arrival. Speaking of, Braxton Hicks contractions might be in full swing this week as your expected due date inches closer and closer. Unless contractions are severe and persistent, it’s probably just your body practicing for the real deal. If they keep up, contact your healthcare provider in case it’s a sign of preterm labour (which is more common with twin pregnancies).
Your heart rate and blood flow are also off the charts, so you can expect to feel short of breath pretty regularly now. Stop to take a breather and don’t push yourself too hard in your work and planning for after delivery.
The contents of this article have been medically reviewed by Ruth A. Tessler, M.D. in July, 2019.
Written by Julie Sprankles.
Follow Preggo Nancy’s pregnancy journey week-by-week and share in her joy, her symptoms, and even her pregnancy cravings.