You might feel a little bit cumbersome now. Water could be your saving grace during the next few weeks: swimming can give you a tremendously liberating feeling of buoyancy and weightlessness; warm (not hot) baths can help to relieve aching feet, legs and back and put you in touch with your unborn baby, who may respond to your own relaxation and the warmth of the bath water by moving about inside you; spritzing yourself with a cooling water spray can help you to cool down when you're feeling hot and bothered; and drinking plenty of water will not only help to keep you hydrated, but can also help reduce fluid retention.
Your baby this week weighs around 6lb (2.75kg) – a pretty good weight. Although your baby would still be considered premature if born this week, next week takes you to what's regarded as full term. In fact, a birth is considered full term if it takes place any time between weeks 37 and 42.
Your baby's crown-to-rump length is around 34cm (about 13.5in), and the rate of weight gain is slowing now, although there's still a bit more to gain before birth. Your baby continues to drink and excrete amniotic fluid, and your body starts to reabsorb the excess. The space inside your uterus is so small now that movements might be felt more as nudges, bumps – rumbles rather than tumbles!
On the outside
Your uterus is currently around 14cm (5.5in) from your belly button. Thankfully for most mums-to-be, this is the week when the baby 'engages' - drops head-down into the pelvis in preparation for delivery. You'll feel this benefit as the pressure is taken back off your organs and you'll feel freer to breathe, move about, eat larger amounts of food at a time and, hopefully, sleep more easily too.
The relief can be enormous, but the pay-off might be discomfort when walking. Some mums-to-be describe the new pressure in their pelvis as feeling as though their babies might literally drop out of them at any moment.
Some mums continue to feel full and bloated as their babies don't engage labour itself – if at all. Some babies will remain head up (breech), head down but facing the wrong way (posterior lie) or in a sideways position (transverse lie) until delivery itself, in which case a Caesarean may have to be performed – although, in some cases, health professionals manage to turn babies by external manipulation.
Things to think about
Good nutrition is important throughout pregnancy, but equally so after the birth, especially if you're breastfeeding. You're very likely to have your hands full once your baby arrives and for many new mums healthy eating goes out the window as they put themselves and their own needs to one side.
One way of making sure you don't suffer nutritionally after the birth is to cook some wholesome meals ahead of time and put them in the freezer. If your freezer is groaning with frozen food, take the time to defrosting and eating the existing supplies.
If you are short on freezer space in any case, you can cook and freeze healthy pasta sauces and soups in 'zip lock' freezer bags. Keep a loaf or two of wholemeal or wholegrain bread in the freezer, too: you can defrost a couple of slices in a matter of half an hour, or even more quickly if there's a 'defrost' button on your toaster, and knock up a quick sandwich or just enjoy a couple of slices with your soup. Cooking for the freezer will also mean you don't have to feel guilty if you don't have the time or energy for whipping up a tasty dinner every night.
Other shortcuts to quick, healthy meals include:
- Buying fresh pasta rather than dried (it cooks in 5 minutes rather than the usual 10-15, so won't need watching)
- Omelette with cheese, mushrooms, peppers, cooked meats with a salad makes a quick and nutritious meal
- Mixing ready-bagged salads with chopped, cooked meats, cheese, olives and dressing
- Eating jacket potatoes (start them off for 5 minutes in the microwave then finish off for half an hour in the oven)
- Buying the odd takeaway (concentrating on boiled, not fried rice; steamed vegetables; tomato-based rather than creamy sauces and supplementing with salad rather than Asian breads, crisps and chips.)
See next week: 37 weeks pregnant