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Pregnancy Week by Week : Week 31 (part 1) - How Your Baby Is Growing and Developing

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1. How Big Is Your Baby?

Your baby weighs about 3⅓ pounds (1.5kg), and crown-to-rump length is 11¾ inches (28cm). Its total length is nearly 16 inches (41cm).

2. How Big Are You?

It is now a little more than 12 inches (31cm) from the pubic symphysis to the top of the uterus. From your bellybutton, it is almost 4½ inches (11cm). Your total pregnancy weight gain should be between 21 and 27 pounds (9.45 and 12.15kg).

3. How Your Baby Is Growing and Developing

Intrauterine-growth restriction (IUGR) indicates a fetus is small for its gestational age. Weight is below the 10th percentile (in the lowest 10%) for the baby’s gestational age. This means 9 out of 10 babies of normal growth are larger.

When dates are correct and the pregnancy is as far along as expected and weight falls below the 10th percentile, it’s cause for concern. Growth-restricted babies can have problems.

Your healthcare provider measures you at each visit to see how your uterus and baby are growing. A problem is usually found by measuring the uterus over a period of time and finding little or no change. If you measured 10¾ inches (27cm) at 27 weeks gestation and at 31 weeks you measure only 11 inches (28cm), there might be concern about IUGR, and tests may be ordered.

What causes IUGR? Many conditions can raise the risk of IUGR. We know a woman who has delivered a growth-restricted baby may be more likely to do so again.

Anything that results in baby receiving less nutrition can be a factor. Lifestyle choices can cause IUGR, such as smoking. The more cigarettes smoked, the smaller the baby. Alcohol and drug use can also restrict growth.

A woman who doesn’t gain enough weight may have a growth-restricted baby. When you eat fewer than 1500 calories a day for an extended time, IUGR may result. So eat a healthful diet during pregnancy. Don’t restrict normal weight gain.

Pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure can have an effect on baby’s growth. Some infections in mom may restrict growth. Anemia may also be a cause.

Women who live at high altitudes are more likely to have babies who weigh less. Carrying more than one baby may also cause smaller-than-normal babies.

Other reasons for a small baby, unrelated to IUGR, include the fact a woman who is small might have a small baby. In addition, an overdue pregnancy can lead to a smaller baby. A baby with birth defects may be smaller.

Detecting IUGR is one important reason to keep all your prenatal appointments. You may not like being measured and weighed at every appointment, but it helps your healthcare provider see if your pregnancy is growing and baby is getting bigger.

IUGR can be diagnosed or confirmed by ultrasound. Ultrasound may also be used to assure baby is healthy and no malformations exist that must be dealt with at birth.

When IUGR is diagnosed, avoid doing anything that could make it worse. Bed rest is one treatment. Resting on your side allows the baby to receive the best blood flow, and better blood flow is the best chance it has to improve growth. If maternal disease causes IUGR, you need to be treated to improve your health.

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Comparative size of the uterus at 31 weeks of pregnancy (fetal age—29 weeks). The uterus can be felt about 4½ inches (11cm) above the bellybutton.

An infant with IUGR is at risk of dying before delivery. Baby may need to be delivered before it is full term. Infants with IUGR may not tolerate labor well; a Cesarean delivery may be necessary. The baby may be safer outside the uterus than inside of it.

Dad Tip

It’s time to start looking for baby equipment, such as cribs, car seats and layette items. You’ll need to make some of these purchases before baby’s birth. Most hospitals or birthing centers won’t let you take baby home without an approved car seat.

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