Pregnancy Calendar: 31 Weeks Pregnant

How big is baby? Baby is weighing in at about 3.33 pounds (1.5 kg) and measuring about 16 inches (41 cm) in length!

What’s new this week? If you have not yet already, it is time to start thinking about which child birthing method (if any) you would like to use. Once you decide, you will want to spend time getting comfortable with it.

What’s next? While baby will likely wait several more weeks to make his or her debut, many moms like to have their hospital bags packed just in case. Learn the essentials you should have in yours below.

Up until this point, your focus has been on helping your baby grow and develop. While that is not going away anytime soon (or maybe ever!), this week you may want to start focusing on delivering baby. There are several philosophies for bringing baby into the world. Additionally, you will want to start thinking about what to take to the hospital with you when your little one is ready to finally meet you.

What’s happening with my baby?

At each prenatal visit, your physician has been measuring your uterus to track how you and baby are progressing. If your baby’s size falls below the 10 percentile (9 out of 10 babies of the same age measure bigger than him or her), your healthcare provider may talk to you about intrauterine-growth restriction (IUGR).

Growth-restricted babies may experience problems, including the need to be delivered early via Cesarean delivery (he or she may not tolerate labor well) or death before delivery.

Many factors contribute to a woman’s potential for IUGR. Smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy increase risk, and low or poor food intake (1,500 calories or less for an extended period of time) will certainly affect baby’s ability to absorb nutrients. Other causes include: anemia, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, living at higher altitudes and carrying multiples.

IUGR is an important reason to keep all of your prenatal doctor visits, eat a healthful diet, avoid smoke and alcohol and seek treatment if you become ill. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any concerns regarding your baby’s size or health.

How big is my belly?

While every woman’s body is different—and every pregnancy is unique—your uterus may have expanded about 4.5 inches (11 cm) above your bellybutton by now. Women within normal BMI range should have gained between 21 and 27 pounds (9.45 to 12.15 kg) total by week 31 of pregnancy. Your uterus now fills the majority of your abdomen.

Natural Childbirth Methods

While the idea of “natural childbirth” may vary from woman to woman, most agree that it is delivering baby with as little intervention (pain medications, artificial procedures) as possible. Many women choose to prepare the body and mind using a certain philosophy. Three major philosophies include:

Lamaze: This method is the most traditional. It uses breathing and relaxation techniques to make labor efforts more productive.

Bradley Method: Classes for this method teach women relaxation and inward focus. It focuses on deep abdominal breathing to make labor more comfortable. Prior to delivery, the Bradley Method relies on good nutrition, exercise and lifestyle choices to produce a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Thus, women who choose this method often begin classes at the beginning of pregnancy.

Grantly Dick-Read: This method is based on the belief that fear and tension is the cause for pain during childbirth and works to break the fear-tension-pain cycle.

If you would like to use one of these methods, or another natural childbirth method, you will want to spend time practicing and becoming comfortable with it. Include your partner in these “rehearsals” so he or she can help guide you during labor and delivery.

Packing Your Hospital Bag

Packing your hospital (or birthing center) bag for delivery can be exciting for many pregnant women because it means baby is almost here! Try not to overpack, as many women report not using hardly anything in their bags. Here is a list of essentials and a few nice-to-have items for your stay at the hospital.

For You:

  • Paperwork including your ID, insurance card and hospital registration, if necessary
  • Your birthing plan, if you have one
  • Slippers
  • Items to help you relax: a musical playlist, imagery for visualization or meditation, scented oils
  • Two comfortable outfits including nursing tops or bras if you plan to nurse
  • Robe
  • An outfit to wear home
  • Toiletries
  • Entertainment in case labor is slow (book, magazine, etc.)
  • Phone battery
  • Glasses, if necessary

(You may want to consider leaving jewelry at home so you don’t have to worry about keeping track of it during your hospital stay.)

For Your Partner:

  • Toiletries
  • Phone charger
  • Money and change for vending machine
  • Comfortable outfit if he or she plans to stay the night (layers are recommended since you may be hot and want the AC on high)
  • Snacks
  • Entertainment

For Baby:

  • Soft onesies and pajamas
  • Receiving blankets
  • An outfit to wear home

The hospital will provide you with diapers and blankets for baby. They will also supply you with mesh underwear, sanitary pads and any medications you need. Ask your medical care team if you have any questions regarding what you should pack for your hospital stay.

Tip: Partners, while mom-to-be is packing her hospital bag, it may be helpful for you to make sure you have a safety-approved car seat ready and installed. Many hospitals will not allow you to take baby home without the right gear.

Retinoids During Pregnancy

Important: Do not take oral retinoids during pregnancy. It is also recommended that pregnant women avoid topical retinoids. Here’s the breakdown:

Retinoids are a type of Vitamin A often found in anti-aging and acne treatments. The ingredient is known to speed up cell division, preventing skin collagen from breaking down. For non-pregnant women, this can be a miracle worker. However, high doses of Vitamin A can be dangerous for babies as they grow. Some oral retinoids have also been known to cause birth defects.

Medications and topical solutions that contain these ingredients should not be used while pregnant:

  • Tazarotene
  • Tretinoin
  • Adapelene
  • Alitretinoin
  • Tretinoin
  • Bexarotene
  • Retinol

While topical treatments have not been known to cause birth defects, doctors prefer you to be extra safe during pregnancy. If you have been using them, don’t panic. Simply find a replacement for the rest of your pregnancy.