32 Weeks Pregnant

Staying comfortable in the final weeks

32 weeks pregnant:

What's happening with you:

As your baby grows and your belly expands before your eyes, you may have trouble focusing on anything other than your abdomen. In fact, you may have trouble focusing, period. You can attribute some of your absentmindedness to your hormones, but it's not unusual to divide all of your attention between labor worries and the health of your growing baby at 32 weeks pregnant. Finish up your birth plan and discuss labor pain management options with your doctor at your next prenatal visit to give yourself some peace of mind.

A shifting center of gravity and loosening ligaments means you may be a little wobbly on your swollen feet, and you're probably noticing Braxton Hicks contractions more often. The top of your uterus is almost five inches above your bellybutton, pushing against your diaphragm and lungs to leave you short of breath now and then. With your physical discomforts, labor anxiety, fatigue and busy preparations, it's no wonder that you're beginning to pine for delivery day. Luckily, you only have a couple more months to wait, and in just a few weeks your baby will drop into your pelvis (an event known as "lightening") to prepare for birth, which will relieve some of the pressure and discomfort under your rib cage.

What's happening with your baby:

Your baby has working organs, muscles and bones, and he can demonstrate his mobility by moving his head from side to side. Measuring 11 ½ inches (29 cm) from crown to rump and around 4 pounds, a 32 week fetus is practicing hard for life outside your belly, breathing in and swallowing amniotic fluid to help strengthen his lungs and digestive system. He opens and closes his eyes, but they stay closed most of the time -- he sleeps about 90% of the day.

The lungs are almost mature now, and your baby would have an excellent chance of survival if you were to go into preterm labor this week. Of course, every day he stays in the womb is another day he has to fatten up and gain strength, so you should be aware of any preterm labor signs and call your caregiver if you suspect your baby is on the way.


Things to do this week:

If empire waists and flowing fabrics got you through your first two trimesters, you may be tempted to forego maternity clothes altogether. Keep in mind that you're not finished growing -- in fact, you're putting on weight faster that at any other time in your pregnancy. In addition to a few quality nursing bras and some maternity underwear, you'll want to get comfortable maternity clothing that will both grow with you for the next few weeks and shrink with you as you enter postpartum life.

By the third trimester, your wardrobe may begin to feel less comfortable than it used to. Bra straps can cut into the shoulder, artificial fabrics turn into stifling blankets and the clothing you simply bought in a larger size to avoid maternity wear styles and prices may be lifting in the front to show off your belly. You need to do what you can to counteract third trimester discomforts, and stylish comfort is one great way to make you feel your best. Opt for stretchy garments that will house your belly now, but also fit well as you recover after delivery and start to regain your old form. One of the best styles for casual comfort and flattering coverage is a wrap shirt, so invest in a cardigan or short-sleeve blouse with ties to let you adjust the waistline. On that note, wrap skirts are cost-effective, perfectly fitted and easy to put on, too!


Medical musts:

It can be scary to think of delivering a preterm baby, but take comfort in the fact that the vast majority of babies born at week 32 will not only survive, they will be perfectly strong and healthy after spending some time in an incubator. Most women won't begin to dilate this early, but it is possible for the cervix to start opening in preparation for labor, and there are some complications that could come with that.

One fairly rare but very serious issue connected to preterm labor is cord prolapse. In the event of your cord slipping down into your vagina when the amniotic membranes rupture, your baby's lifeline could be compressed and, in turn, cut off the oxygen supply to your baby. If you can see or feel the cord inside your vagina, you will need to act quickly: get on all fours to relieve the pressure on the cord, and then call an ambulance. Although it is an emergency, you have a good chance of delivering a healthy baby if you remain calm and get treatment as soon as possible.

Tips for your partner:

Are you worried that you're not bonding enough with your baby? It's pretty much a given that the mom-to-be has had more frequent and intimate time with your baby, but that doesn't mean you need to accept a less familiar role. While your partner goes through her third trimester, try to take time every day to talk to your baby, and offer your partner your opinion on the birth plan and nursery decorations. There are plenty of ways to become involved in the pregnancy, so take the opportunity when it presents itself.

Of course, those first post-pregnancy weeks will bring an excellent opportunity to make up for lost time. Think about adding some of your own childhood to the nursery: a favorite picture book, a treasured stuffed animal or a familiar painting can connect your world to your baby's world. If you talk to your baby often, he'll recognize your voice when he's born and you'll be better able to keep his attention, calm him and bond with him in his early days.

This week's FAQS:

  • I'm having trouble with cramps and aching in my legs at night. Is there any way to relieve this?

    Between hormones, your increased blood volume and the pressure of your uterus, your legs can really suffer in the later stages of pregnancy. Leg cramps get worse when you're dehydrated or on your feet for too long, so try to stay active and rest with your feet up when possible. As for that deep, tingling ache that's known as restless leg syndrome (or RLS), altering your diet and nighttime routine may bring an end to the discomfort. Exercise early in the day so your muscles aren't trying to recover as you're trying to fall asleep, avoid caffeine (which will cause blood vessels to constrict) and gently massage your calf muscles to take care of any tightness that could get worse during the night.

    On the other hand, massage isn't always the best course of action. If your varicose veins are responsible for the pain, massage can damage the veins and could even lead to a blood clot. The best path to relief in this case is elevation and perhaps an ice pack to reduce inflammation. Witch hazel is another natural remedy for inflammation, so dabbing a bit on the affected areas can help (best to get the OK from your doctor first, though).

  • I feel more irritable than excited these days. Is it normal to be this tired and grumpy?

    As your body gets heavier and your mind wanders through a variety of scenarios, you may start to feel a bit rundown, almost like you did in your first trimester. This is perfectly natural and even expected, so give in to your urge to relax instead of fighting through full work days in your final weeks, if that's what you need to do. On the brighter side, you may soon experience what experts term the "nesting instinct": as labor approaches, the body receives a surge of energy, perhaps to ensure all the last minute things get done in time for baby's arrival.

    While some fatigue is to be expected, severe fatigue and apathy in your third trimester could signal depression. Not only is it extremely worrying to feel less excited as your delivery approaches, it can affect your health and your baby's health. Any major changes in mood or energy should be reported to your doctor right away, but you should also know that you're not alone. Feeling blue in pregnancy and during the weeks following delivery is more common than you think, and often the support of understanding friends and peers will help significantly.

Helpful hint:

If you're feeling particularly achy and heavy, why not take a dip? Swimming is an ideal activity for your third trimester, as it provides the perfect resistance for gently toning muscles, and nothing quite compares to bobbing in warm water when you need to relax. Your baby may appreciate the swim, too -- you might find that he moves around as you move through the water.

Pregnancy Timeline

Third trimester fitness and yoga videos - Childbirth Preparation

Third trimester cooking and nutrition videos - Pregnancy Cravings

Third trimester lifestyle videos - Prenatal Massage

Preparing for labor and birth videos - Delivering Baby