Guide to Being 32 Weeks Pregnant

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Feel like you just might burst? Hang in there: At week 32, you've got as little as five weeks until you're full-term, and just eight until you enter "overdue." You're nearing the end. And the beginning. And that baby is huge.

OK, maybe not huge, but remarkably bigger than just seven days ago, and chances are you're feeling every half-pound-per-week that little munchkin is putting on.

Here, what you may be feeling, thinking, needing and doing at 32 weeks along. To begin with, you might be feeling a bit tired from those all-nighters, which are probably getting more frequent …

What You Might Be Feeling

You may spend a lot of time this week looking up your myriad symptoms.
You may spend a lot of time this week looking up your myriad symptoms.
©iStockphoto.com/ebstock

Sleep is probably getting tougher, even tougher than it was just last week. Not only is your belly nearing downright unmanageable, but your joints are continuing to loosen up, your pelvis may be shifting slightly out of position, and shooting sciatica pains and baby boxing might be waking you every couple of hours during the night.

Yes, your body is conspiring to keep you up, and that's not all. In week 32, you may also be experiencing:

  • Continuing breast growth, and possible leaking of colostrum
  • Skin changes, including increased pigment, itchy tummy and skin tags
  • Digestive issues, including heartburn, bloating and constipation
  • Hemorrhoids and occasional headaches, dizziness and forgetfulness
  • Braxton-Hicks contractions, or "false labor"

Those "false labor" contractions can feel like a mild tightening of your uterus, perhaps 30 seconds to a minute in duration. If you don't feel them, though, that doesn't mean they're not happening. They sometimes slip by unnoticed. It's important to note that if you have contractions that hurt and/or last more than a minute or two, this is cause to contact your doctor, since it may indicate preterm labor.

But while you may not feel the contractions, there's somebody who most certainly does …

What's Going on In Your Body

By this point, the baby in your belly is clearly recognizable as a newborn!
By this point, the baby in your belly is clearly recognizable as a newborn!
©iStockphoto.com/aldomurillo

Length: Almost 19 inches (head to toe). Weight: Almost 4 pounds. Quarters: Cramped.

A practice contraction that you may not even notice is probably pretty obvious to your little one, who now takes up most of the available space in your uterus. With the crowding in there, you may notice a slight decrease in activity, since there's not much room to move.

Size isn't the only notable trait in week 32. Other developments can include:

  • Lung development -- They're not quite ready for show time, but they're close. Your baby is breathing all the time now (amniotic fluid instead of air), practicing for that first breath.
  • Brain development -- Connections are forming at a rapid pace, and your baby is reacting to sensory input now (from all five senses). He or she may even recognize your voice.
  • Sucking and swallowing -- It's all practice for drinking and eating once he or she leaves the womb. (It's also, incidentally, helping to strengthen facial muscles.)
  • Fat accumulation -- From now to delivery, your baby is going to put on weight at the most rapid pace, bulking up with the baby fat that will provide warmth and cushioning (and cuteness) once he or she leaves your comfy-cozy uterus.
  • Skin appearance -- It's finally a bit opaque, with that fat filling in, and getting smoother with the added bulk.

With less-visible veins and de-wrinkling skin, if you could look inside your belly you would clearly recognize your baby as a newborn. It's that close, which means your partner is about to enter the world of "all baby, all the time," too. And with that in mind …

What Your Partner Should Know

By week 32, the pregnant lady will need a lighter load for sure.
By week 32, the pregnant lady will need a lighter load for sure.
©iStockphoto.com/aldomurillo

Partners, your time is coming. You may feel a bit sidelined right now, but you're about to share the spotlight with mommy.

As you and your lady near parenthood, you may want to be aware of:

  • Increasing frequency of check-ups -- The doctor probably wants to check on things about every two weeks now, which gives you plenty of opportunities to get in on the action, asking questions, hearing heartbeats and getting glimpses of the baby via ultrasound.
  • Your lady's physical needs -- As she gets bigger, her back, hips and sense of balance are probably suffering. She would no doubt appreciate some help with her usual chores, especially where lifting is involved.
  • The importance of intimacy -- Some couples have sex until the big day, while others prefer to hold off. Either way, closeness is more important than ever now, since you'll have your hands full come delivery. Snuggle up with a good movie, or massage shea butter on her itchy belly. You may find it eases everyone's nerves a bit, if in fact there are some nervous near-parents in the house.

Intimacy through massage is an excellent choice; combine it with talking, and it can be downright ideal. Consider some interesting (and practical) talking points …

Some Things to Consider

As the day gets closer, you may find yourself lost in thought. What kind of parents will you be? Will there be 10 little fingers and 10 little toes? How much will it hurt, really?

Be sure to share at least some (preferably lots) of those thoughts with your partner, especially in areas of practical concern, like:

  • Getting off your feet -- This final stretch can be quite demanding, physically. Can you reassign chores and activities so the pregnant lady can rest more (and stand less)?
  • Labor -- Once things get going, it can get pretty intense, so talk about important decisions now: Will anyone besides you two be in the labor room? Will you choose natural or medical pain management? Will you draw up a birth plan, or wing it?
  • Help at home -- Many couples find it beneficial to have someone helping out when they first bring the baby home. If that's something you're interested in, who will it be? A relative, a doula or a friend?
  • Returning to work -- Will someone stay at home? If so, who? And have you looked into leave policies at work? If both will be working, have you lined up daycare?

These are all points to discuss, perhaps over body butter, before you go into labor. Some others, however, you can firmly put out of your mind…

Don't Worry If…

So many concerns, so little time left with that baby on board. One thing you needn't agonize about? Other people's expectations about how your delivery will go down.

Many people have definite opinions on how a birth is supposed to unfold. Your partner's entire extended family might intend to camp out in the waiting room. Your best friend might insist that natural is the only way to go. Your mom might want to be in the labor room holding your hand.

If the idea of giving birth without your mom holding your hand is unthinkable, invite her to share the experience with you. If you want tons of visitors, super. If you want to go natural, do it.

But if you want an epidural and your doctor's on board, go for it. If you don't want anyone in the labor room except your partner and the medical staff, or you don't want any visitors until after you leave the hospital, there's nothing wrong with that. Hospital staff will even help you enforce visiting restrictions.

Remember, you're the one giving birth, so you get to decide how it unfolds. Try not to worry too much about hurting anyone's feelings. It's up to you and your partner to choreograph the scene. So start planning now. You've still got several weeks to work out the details.

For more information on pregnancy, parenting and related topics, check out the links on the next page.

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More Great Links

Sources

  • 32nd Week of Pregnancy. Similac. (June 10, 2011) http://similac.com/pregnancy/32-weeks-pregnant-baby-growth-development
  • Week 32 of Pregnancy. What to Expect. (June 10, 2011) http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/week-by-week/week-32.aspx
  • Your Pregnancy: 32 Weeks. Baby Center. (June 10, 2011) http://www.babycenter.com/6_your-pregnancy-32-weeks_1121.bc
  • Your Pregnancy Week by Week: Weeks 31-34. (June 10, 2011) http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/your-pregnancy-week-by-week-weeks-31-34