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31 Weeks Pregnant

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Your Baby

Check out what happened with your baby's development last week.

Counting to 10. Many health care providers recommend that their patients monitor their baby's movements once they're well into the third trimester. Here's the drill: At roughly the same time each day (if possible, the time when your baby is most active), lie down and keep track of how long it takes to feel 10 kicks, rolls, or flutters—any type of movement. Ideally, this should be less than an hour. Many women find it takes only a few minutes, depending on the time of day. If an hour passes without any movement, eat a light snack, lie back down, and try again. If you still don't feel anything, call your health care provider.

Slow down. "It's pretty crowded in here." Don't worry, however, if your baby seems less active as the weeks progress. In fact, less-frequent movement now means she's right on track (assuming you are counting 10 movements in an hour each day). Her movements are simply becoming less erratic and more organized; also, there's not as much room in your uterus as there was just a few weeks ago.

Measuring up. Your baby is about 11.2 inches long from crown to rump (17 inches stretched out) and weighs about 3.3 pounds. She's been in the fetal position, with her legs tucked, for a few weeks now. She still has lots of growing to do—she won't get much taller, but she'll put on another 2 pounds this month. In nine more weeks, she'll be ready to greet you!

Your Pregnancy

Out of breath. You may have begun to feel breathless a few months ago; now you're probably having a tougher time getting enough air. That's because your ever-expanding uterus is pushing your diaphragm into your lungs. If you're carrying low, consider yourself lucky—women who carry high have an even harder time breathing. If you find yourself huffing and puffing, slow down and take a few deep breaths (as deep as you can). Toward the end of your pregnancy (around week 37 or 38), you may get a break as your baby drops down into your pelvis, easing up on your diaphragm and lungs.

Choosing child care. It's not too early to think about your child care options, especially if you plan on working after your baby is born. Whether you're considering a nanny, day care, or a relative, start researching and interviewing prospective choices now. Even if you're not going to need full-time care, you'll probably want to gather a few babysitter recommendations for special occasions. Tackle this now and it's one less thing to do when you're busy with a newborn.

Preterm labor or Braxton Hicks? You've probably been on the lookout for preterm labor symptoms since the middle of your second trimester. Now that you're in your third trimester, your body may begin to practice for labor. These practice contractions are called Braxton Hicks contractions. They are different from preterm labor contractions and are no cause for alarm. How do you know the difference? If the contractions are irregular and go away when you change positions or walk around, you are probably experiencing Braxton Hicks.

From the experts. Moms aren't the only ones who worry about pregnancy and go through changes. Dads do too. "Researchers say that up to 60 percent of men experience some sort of physical symptoms when their wives are pregnant," says Lawrence Kutner, Ph.D. "These changes are most likely the result of men's desire to be a part of the pregnancy, which will, after all, transform their life." Click here to read more from Dr. Kutner on coping with the physical and emotional changes of becoming a father.


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