You are 32 Weeks and 2 Days 54 days to go…

Every 40 minutes, your baby swallows enough amniotic fluid to fill his stomach, before emptying it back into the amniotic sac.

Your baby today

During this week your baby’s fingernails have become fully developed and now approach the tips of the fingers. Bathed in amniotic fluid, the nails are kept very soft: it’s only after birth that your baby might tend to scratch and need to wear mittens.

Your baby is swallowing and recycling almost half a liter of amniotic fluid each day. In addition to providing him with nutrients, especially proteins, this fluid is important for the healthy development of the gut. Your baby’s sense of taste is thought to have developed to such an extent now that if you have eaten spiced food he can distinguish this in the fluid he drinks.

Amniotic fluid does not enter the lungs but travels down the esophagus into the stomach where it is stored for a short time. At this stage, the stomach fills every 40 minutes, but, from 35 weeks, as the stomach enlarges, this rate slows down to every 80 minutes. Muscle contractions move the fluid in waves into the small and then large bowel. As it travels along the bowel, water is reabsorbed so that only waste material or “meconium,” enters the colon, the final section of the large bowel. This meconium accumulates in the large bowel, which is completely full by the time your baby is born. Babies don’t usually pass meconium before the birth but do so soon after. Meconium consists mainly of skin cells, lanugo hairs, and vernix. It has a greenish color due to the presence of bilirubin, a breakdown product from red blood cells.

… The birth
False alarms

In the next few weeks, as you and your partner await your baby’s arrival, you may experience one or two false alarms, especially if it’s your first baby. A false alarm can come at any time of the day or night and it won’t respect important meetings or deadlines.

It can help if you—as well as your partner—familiarize yourself with all the signs that indicate labor may be starting . If, however, you’re ever in doubt, do contact your doctor to ascertain that labor has not started, rather than assuming that this is the case. She will be very experienced in dealing with false alarms and won’t mind you contacting her.

Itchy skin

Having itchy skin on your belly is common: as the skin there stretches and thins, it can become dry. You could try using a moisturizing lotion to soothe this.

If, however, you have severe itching on your abdomen, or on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet, see your doctor. This itching can be a sign of obstetric cholestasis, a rare pregnancy condition involving the liver, which causes bile salts to enter the bloodstream, making the skin (especially on the hands and feet) itchy, although there is no rash. The condition may also cause a vitamin K deficiency. Vitamin K helps the blood to clot, so a deficiency increases the risk of bleeding for both mother and baby. Medication to bind the bile salts and vitamin K supplements are effective treatments. Some studies suggest early induction of labor (at around 37 weeks) helps avoid complications. The condition resolves after delivery, usually without any long-term liver damage.

You are 32 Weeks and 3 Days 53 days to go…

As your belly grows, it’s normal to feel you want to support it when you’re walking around.

Your baby today

Your baby’s position in the uterus is influenced by your own posture. Gravity has some effect on your baby, so whether you are standing or sitting, and which side you lie down on affects the way your baby’s back is turned and which side he rolls onto.

You’ve probably had to change the way that you exercise by now due to your growing abdomen. You may well have had to replace jogging on the treadmill, for example, with going for long, brisk (or not so brisk!) walks. If you find that even walking makes your belly and pelvis sore or uncomfortable, you may find you naturally hold up your belly with your hands to try to give it some extra support and to give your pelvis and back a break. Some women say it feels as if the baby “might fall out.”

You might want to invest in a pregnancy support band; made of stretchy fabric, this useful item supports the belly and can help prevent lower back pain.

Walking at a comfortable pace when you are heavily pregnant will cause your belly to shift around and your instinct may be to support your baby with your hands.

Buying a baby monitor

There are hundreds of monitors on the market, so choosing one can be daunting. Although monitors vary, they have the same basic components—a minimum of two units: one to transmit your baby’s sounds, and one that stays with you so that you can hear if your baby is crying or fussing.

Additional features include: video screens, a moving lights-sound display, low power and out-of-range warnings, the option to use electricity or batteries, a talk-back function, and a temperature sensor. Some have a night-light function. With all these features available, your choice largely depends on your personal preferences and your budget. If your house is small, you don’t necessarily need one.

… Your baby
Repositioning your baby

Your movements during late pregnancy can affect the position of your baby. Ideally, he’ll lie head down, facing your back, with his chin tucked into his chest. You can encourage this optimum fetal position by:

  • Spending time on all fours, wiggling your hips from side to side; or arch your back, then drop your spine down.

  • Sitting with your knees lower than your pelvis, and your body tilted slightly forward.

  • Kneeling on the floor, leaning over a beanbag, cushions, or birth ball.

  • Sitting on a birth ball, with your legs positioned slightly apart and knees lower than your hips, then rocking your pelvis.

  • Assuming the tailor pose: sit on the floor with your back straight and the soles of your feet together. Let your knees fall to the side and rest your elbows on your inner thighs.

  • Swimming: breaststroke helps to open the pelvis.

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