31 Weeks Pregnant
Fetal development in week 31
This week, your amazing growing baby is around 3 pounds and 17 inches tall.
With each added layer of baby fat, your baby's wrinkly raisin skin starts to look more and more like it will when they're born.
The heavy news: you can expect your miracle-gro muffin to gain about a half a pound of weight per week from now until about two weeks before birth.
Your baby's developing immune system has made some serious gains over the past weeks getting them in full gear to face our disease-ridden world o’ wonders.
Even so, a large majority of your child’s immune strength will need to come from your milk in the first year.
Their cute little noggin’ (which could already be covered with luscious locks or just purty peach fuzz), is still soft because the skull bones have not yet fused together.
As disturbing as having an infant with a soft cracked skull sounds, it's pretty much a necessity for passage through the birth canal during labor.
If your baby is in your birth canal for an extended period, they'll come out with a bit of a cone head, as a result of their skull plates being compressed while in your rather snug birth canal. It's normal, harmless and their skull will even out into a more round, less cone-heady shape in the next few weeks.
Oh, and FYI: your baby may have that “soft spot” on their head for up to eighteen months after birth.
And how's mom doing?
Here’s a good way to deal with your mounting impatience (and distract you from your discomfort): map out your plan of action for the big day.
It’s an important and necessary step that’s both soothing and fun.
If you think about it, planning all the details of your labor now can be a real saving grace once the chaos and intensity of labor kicks in.
Planning a hospital birth:
*These guidelines also apply for a birthing center birth*
Pack a bag with a couple of changes of loose comfortable clothes (bikinis if you want to be hopping in and out of the shower/bath), reading material, music that you think would inspire/relax you during labor, and a camera.
Have an infant car seat, blankets, newborn diapers, wipes and a going-home outfit ready for your brand new baby's journey home.
If you haven't yet, choose who you want present during labor and whether you're going to have a doula/midwife who will mediate potentially pushy medical staff on your behalf - in order to support you and uphold your birth plan throughout labor.
Get to know your driving route to the hospital or birthing center like the back of your hand.
Make a list of typical medical procedures you're comfortable with and which ones you'd like to avoid during labor and birth. Type it up and print out the list to give it to your medical caregiver as soon as possible.
Start researching your pain management options. Read weeks 35, 36 and 37 for more detailed information and labor tips.
Include a post-birth plan to prevent your baby from being taken away from you, ensure that they're not given formula or a bottle, which can induce "nipple confusion" and make breastfeeding more difficult.
Planning a home birth
Make sure your midwife is available for the weeks around your due date.
Decide whether or not you want to rent a birthing tub!
Get the delivery room ready. Your midwife will provide you with a list of necessary equipment to buy and bring the rest herself.
Choose who will be present while you labor, and don't let anyone guilt you into including them if you're not sure they're the kind of person you'll want around when you're in the throes of labor.
Make sure you've got all the necessary infant supplies: newborn diapers and wipes, swaddling blankets, newborn clothes and a safe sleep space (whether in a protected co-sleeping area or crib/bassinet).
Make a go-to-hospital contingency plan with your midwife in the event something goes seriously wrong and medical intervention becomes necessary.
Start planning your pain management options and prepping yourself mentally for labor.
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The Sarcastic Journalist is a freelance writer and mother of two living near Houston, Texas. She has a degree in journalism and an addiction to magazines. Here, she recounts the 40 not-so-glowing but hilarious weeks of her pregnancy!
Sarcastic Journalist ?
It's my labor and I'll cry if I want to
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about (I guess you’ve been staying away from those pregnancy message boards like I told you to!) a birth plan is basically self-explanatory. It is a plan on how you want to give birth.
The births of my two children couldn’t have been any more different. When my daughter was born in July of 2004, I had suffered through a long and stressful pregnancy. My plan was this: Have a baby with the least amount of pain possible. In fact, if I could have the baby while asleep, that would be great.
I did no research on the topic of baby-having. Why would I? I wanted to have an epidural the first second I felt any discomfort. Needless to say, when I did start having contractions, I totally freaked out.
With my second child, I tried more advance planning. I researched things on the Internet. I read books and went to message boards where women discussed the pros and cons of having epidurals. I learned about the types of drugs available. I listened to Hypnobirthing CDs and tried to put myself in a good frame of mind.
I even wrote a birth plan. Basically it went like this: I want to do what I want to do and you can’t stop me!
I know of many women that were a little uptight with the planning of their births. They wanted copies printed out and handed off to nurses at the hospital. They drilled their doctors during checkups on what was and wasn’t allowed.
Here’s what it boils down to, especially if this is your first child: It is good to have wishes. It is GREAT to educate yourself on the process of birth and what is or isn’t available. But, when a human being is coming out of your “va***jay,” things get messy. You might want drugs. You may decide you want to squat on all fours and bark like a dog. You may decide to denounce all men for their ability to produce s***m.
When you are down on all fours, barking like a dog, handing out said birth plan will probably be one of the last things on your mind. And? That’s okay. Just bark at anyone who doesn’t do things the way you like. You might get known as the “Crazy in room 203,” but heck, at least you’ll get things done the way you want.