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32 weeks pregnant

You’re at T minus eight weeks now and probably starting to feel the strain a bit. You might be looking at your last few weeks of work before going on maternity leave, but your body (as well as your mind) will already be planning ahead to after your baby is born.

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated Jul 14, 2021

Your bump at 32 weeks

Your belly has now grown into a nearly full-size bump. You may find that your belly button 'pops' outwards as your bump expands – but don't worry, it will go back to normal after birth.

What size is the baby at 32 weeks?

This week your baby is about 42cm long – about the same length as a bunch of leeks.

How is your body changing at 32 weeks pregnant?

At this stage of pregnancy it can feel a little as though you are leaking from every available orifice, with your boobs gearing up for breastfeeding, and you might find you start to leak urine if you cough or laugh, too. This isn’t really surprising, since you have a baby pressing on your bladder, and it's another reason to be religious about doing your pelvic floor exercises throughout your pregnancy, as this makes it more likely you will be able to hold onto your urine (always a bonus).

However, it can be hard to distinguish between this and leaking amniotic fluid, which is clearly more of a concern. If you think there is a chance the fluid could be from your waters rather than wee, you need to see your antenatal team who can look to see if there is any fluid in the vagina.

They may measure the pH of the fluid in the vagina to see if it is amniotic fluid, which is less acidic than urine. Amniotic fluid has a straw-like colour (similar to but lighter than urine) and a very slightly more viscous feel but it can be really hard to tell, which is why they do the pH test. If you’re brave enough, you can have a bit of a sniff for an ammonia-type smell, which suggests urine but this is not always a reliable test.

Your baby at 32 weeks

There’s much less room in there now and you may notice that your baby moves a little differently. It’s actually a myth that babies move less at this stage. She shouldn’t make fewer movements but they may be less of the somersault variety and more of the firm nudge, on account of not having enough space, so it can feel as though she’s not quite so active.

She will also have longer periods of napping where you may not feel her moving much, although you should be able to wake her up by jumping up and down, clapping your hands, slamming a door or drinking a cold glass of water.

If you are ever worried about how much your baby is moving, see your antenatal team straight away. The overwhelming likelihood is that your baby is fine but it’s not a risk worth taking.

And never worry that you’re making a fuss about nothing – the nurse or doctor who hears her heartbeat or sees her leaping around on a scan will be delighted – they definitely won't tell you off for bothering them.

Here’s what she’s up to this week while she’s taking those long naps…

  • Your baby is developing some delicious creases at the tops of her thighs and on her arms – all that laying down of fat is starting to pay off.
  • Most babies are head down by this stage, but if yours hasn’t headed for the exit yet, fear not – there’s still time for her to do the decent thing. About a quarter of babies are breech at 32 weeks, but this number falls to less than 5% by week 38.
  • Your baby will be having her first rapid eye movements around now. Every 20 to 40 minutes her brain will be going from REM sleep, in which brain activity rivals that of consciousness, and non-REM sleep, during which the brain rests.
  • At week 32 she snoozes for most of the day. Some of these hours are spent in deep sleep, some in REM sleep and some in a half-asleep, half-awake state. You’re probably thinking you know just how she feels some nights when a combination of the baby and your bladder are disturbing your sleep.
  • During REM sleep, her eyes move back and forth just as an adult's eyes do and many researchers believe that it this is caused by dreaming. What on earth they find to dream about in there is anybody’s guess.
  • Her movements are much more refined now – she is stretching out her body and examining it with her hands. She might touch her foot with her hand or use her fingers to grab her umbilical cord.
  • Very sweetly, she’s already starting to show off to you. Research shows that when babies are watched on scans at this age, they bounce up and down more when their mothers laugh.
  • Your baby's heart rate will also slow when you are talking to her as she is more relaxed.

Pregnancy niggles in week 32

As if you didn’t feel humungous enough carrying around a 4lb baby, you might find you get bit bloated as well around this time.

Bloating in pregnancy

The slower movement of food through your digestive system can make you feel bloated and full of wind. To counteract this, eat small meals and get plenty of fibre and fruit to avoid constipation. Try to avoid foods that create gas, such as beans, broccoli, rich sauces, or carbonated liquids, including fizzy water.

Shortness of breath

At this stage in pregnancy, you might find you get out of breath more quickly than you usually would. You're bound to get a bit, or a lot, out of puff when you're carting round another human being who's insistent pressing up against your diaphragm and lungs. Don't worry, though, your baby is still getting all the oxygen it needs…lucky for some.

Things to think about during week 32 of pregnancy

Now might be the time to plan a last-minute getaway. If this is your first baby, it could be your last chance for a quiet holiday as a couple – at least for the next 18 years – so make the most of it. Choose somewhere you might not be able to go with children and make sure you pack a good stack of books and enjoy every moment of the peace and quiet.

Before you go, have a read through the list of pregnancy dos and don’ts for an idea of anything you should avoid, such as sunbathing and being careless with a buffet that’s been left out in the heat too long.

If you’re planning an active holiday it’s also worth checking which forms of exercise are safe in pregnancy, as things like scuba diving are a no-no. But otherwise, get out there and make the most of it. This time next year you will almost certainly ‘wish you were here’ at some point.

Is it safe to fly at 32 weeks pregnant?

  • Airlines vary in their willingness to take you, but the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says it is safe to fly before 37 weeks if you are only carrying one baby.
  • There may also be medical reasons why you should avoid a plane trip, such as if you're anaemic or have had a previous premature birth, so check with your doctor if you have any concerns.
  • There's no evidence that the change in air pressure or humidity will harm you or your baby.
  • If you are more than 28 weeks, most airlines ask for a letter from your doctor saying it's safe for you to travel.
  • You may find your legs swell more and the lower air pressure can increase the likelihood of you getting a nosebleed (since your nose is already congested in pregnancy).
  • There is a risk, especially with flights over four hours long, of developing a blood clot in your leg so you should discuss this with your midwife.

Choosing a birthing partner

If you haven't already, you'll need to decide on a birthing partner in preparation for labour. A birth partner is someone you know and trust who will remain by your side throughout your labour. They will support you when the going gets tough (because let's face it, this birthing business ain't no walk in the park) and can be anyone you choose – such as the father of your child, your mum, a good friend or a doula. Many women do choose their partner to be their birth partner, but there is no pressure to do so – if you want your mum/aunty/best friend there instead, that's absolutely fine.

You can pop your birth partner information on your birth plan. It's also worth thinking about a back-up birth partner for the unlikely scenario of your chosen partner being unavailable on the day (we're talking for emergency reasons, here).

Safe sleep in pregnancy

The advice is that you should sleep on your side during pregnancy. This is because the risk of stillbirth is increased if you sleep on your back. You may find that sleeping on your back feels quite unnatural and uncomfortable at this stage of your pregnancy, anyway, so sleeping on your side has the benefit of being more comfortable, too.

If you find that you are finding it difficult to sleep at 32 weeks, you're not alone. You'll probably be kept awake by an active baby, labour nerves, a full/compressed bladder and other things. If you're suffering from insomnia during your pregnancy, try these tips for improving your chances of getting your full forty winks.

Eating well in the third trimester

Whether you’re in foreign climes or having a holiday with your feet up on the sofa, now your baby is laying down fat and gaining weight fast, these are the weeks when you do need a few extra calories. However, this is not the klaxon for you to start mainlining Hobnobs before getting out of bed.

You want to keep your pregnancy weight gain steady – about an extra 200 calories a day is enough to fuel your baby’s growth from now until birth and steady weight gain will help you avoid stretch marks.

It’s all about quality rather than quantity, so try to get a balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruit and veg, as well as protein-rich foods and slow-energy-release wholegrains to give you a slow burn of energy throughout the day. Keep in mind the foods to avoid as well – you might be nearing the finishing line now but a dose of listeria is very much not what you need right before labour.

All that said, if anyone deserves a treat right now it’s you, so while a healthy diet is important, it’s even more important to stay happy and relaxed – and if a packet of Giant Buttons is going to do it, no one will stand in your way at this stage.

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