31 Weeks Pregnant: Your Pregnancy Week by Week

Yah! You are thirty-one weeks now. You may be ready to be done with this whole pregnancy thing, but your baby still needs a little more time in the womb before she will be ready to leave. You may be anxious to have your pre-pregnant body back, but it is early in your third trimester. You should still have time to prepare for your baby and read up on childbirth. In this week’s newsletter we are going to be discussing water births and birth positions. Water births are becoming very common and a popular birth choice for moms. Water can make labor more comfortable and ease the pain during contractions. Some moms choose to labor in the tub but don’t feel comfortable or do not have the option to give birth in the water.

What is going on with mom & baby

Baby: Baby’s crown to rump length is around 29 cm (11.4 inches). Your baby weighs about 1700-1800 grams ( 3.75-4 pounds). Your baby is beginning to store iron, calcium and phosphorous now. If you have a baby boy, his testicles may be located in the scrotal sac now. Your baby will be putting on weight at a faster rate now in preparation for his entrance to the world.

Mom: As your belly gets bigger, you may be even more uncomfortable. The third trimester is infamous for it’s aches and pains. Have your partner give you a massage or better yet go in for a professional massage. You can arrange a session with a qualified massage therapist for as little as $30 depending on what part of the country you live in.

This week’s Pregnancy Checklist

  Purchase a labor ease kit (comes with oils, teas or massage products)
  Purchase a bath robe or pajamas to wear at the hospital.
  Start setting aside cash in case you need it at the hospital or after birth.
  Make sure you have a watch to time contractions.
  Purchase a nursing bra and nursing pads. (You may need as much as a size larger once your milk comes in)
  Take a new belly picture for your scrapbook or journal.

Thinking of Having a Water Birth?

Water births are becoming more common than ever before. What is a water birth? During a water birth, mom will labor inside a large tub filled with water that is between 95 and 100 degrees FE. Some moms may choose to labor in the tub but give birth outside of the tub and others will give birth to their babies inside the tub. If you are planning to give birth in a hospital you will need to discuss your options with your physician. You will also need to contact your hospital to see what their procedures are for renting a birthing tub and if they allow water births where you plan to give birth. Some hospitals now have birthing pools available for rental. If your hospital does not, you can rent an inflatable birthing pool for around $375. Check online or in the phone book for rental providers.

Water birth benefits

  • Warm water is relaxing. Tensing up during contractions can make the contractions more painful. Water helps mom to relax making contractions more bearable.
  • Warm water softens the vaginal area, helping it to be more elastic and stretch easier. This may help to prevent tearing of the perineum and also may help mom to push more effectively.
  • You are more buoyant in the water making it easier to change positions during labor.
  • Giving birth in the water gives mom a little more privacy. Because you are in the tub, there won’t be nurses and medical staff peering directly at your intimate anatomy the entire time you are trying to give birth.
  • Baby is surrounded by water inside the womb your entire pregnancy. Giving birth in the water may provide baby with a more gentle transition into the world.

Water birth risks

  • Even though water births are becoming more common, the ACOG does not feel there is enough information on water birth to call the practice safe. Talk with your physician about any of your questions or concerns regarding water birth.

Birth Positions

We are going to cover some of the birth positions you might want to try during labor. One of the most common positions is the semi-sitting position. If you are giving birth at a hospital this may be the only position that will be suggested to you; however, there are many different positions you can try. Be sure to let your doctor or hospital staff know if you would like to try your own birth positions.

Here are some common birth positions.

  • Semi-sitting:  The semi-sitting position is a comfortable position for mom. There is some use of gravity with this position. It is a convenient position for hospital staff and can be used in a hospital bed. This is also a good position for moms that have an epidural.

  • Lithotomy position:  This position, not as popular as it used to be, has mom lying on her back with her buttocks close to the edge of the bed and her legs in stirrups. The lithotomy position used to be the standard position for childbirth and in some hospitals it still is. However, this is not the best position for giving birth. Mom is working against gravity. Tearing is more common, as well as the need for episiotomies. Also with mom lying on her back all of the major blood vessels are compressed. As you know from earlier in your pregnancy, lying on your back for too long can decrease circulation to your heart and baby.

  • Standing or leaning:  Standing or leaning position uses gravity to help baby descend in the birth canal. Using this position along with walking may help speed up labor. Leaning against something may make this position more comfortable. You can also have your partner massage your back using this position which may help ease some of the pain or comfort you during contractions. This position may be more challenging for hospital staff. Because you are standing, it is difficult to check your progress or to see baby’s head crowning, for example. If you are giving birth at a hospital, your doctor or midwife may prefer this position for labor but not for actual birth.

  • Sitting or sitting backwards in a chair:  Sitting, sitting backwards, or sitting on the toilet can be good positions to use during labor. The sitting position works with gravity and is comfortable for mom. Sitting on the toilet is also good. Sitting on the toilet is familiar to mom and may feel more natural to mom. Mom can also use a birth ball in this position and her partner can massage her back to help comfort her while she is sitting.

  • Squatting: Squatting also uses gravity. Squatting is a natural position and it helps to open your pelvis as you squat. With your pelvis more open, it may be easier to push baby out. Squatting requires some balance and may be easier to do with support. If you get tired using this position you can rotate to the leaning/standing position to rest.
  • Kneeling on all fours:  This position is comfortable for mom. This position is good for back labor as it takes pressure off of your back. You may also be moved to this position if your baby has bradycardia (low heart rate) because this position increases placental and umbilical blood flow. This is also a good position for delivering a big baby.

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