30 weeks pregnant

30 weeks pregnant

Suddenly telling people you’re 30 weeks makes birth seem terrifyingly close. While you may be starting to feel the strain, your baby is gearing up for life outside the womb in a variety of ways.

Your baby at 30 weeks

This week your baby will be practising how to suck on her fingers and thumbs ready for breastfeeding. She won't be able to suck properly until around week 35, so premature babies born before then often need help with feeding until they are able to suck independently.

As well as getting ready for her first lunch, here’s what else your baby is up to in week 30:

  • She will be able to move her eyeballs. There isn't much to see in your womb but if she sees a bright light she will have what's called a pupillary light reflex where the pupil (the dark bit in the centre of her eye) will get smaller. Even though your baby has the right nerve cells to distinguish colours, they won't work until she is born, so to her everything in the womb looks black and white.
  • As well as having proper sight now, all five of her baby senses will be in full working order.
  • Her fingernails reach the end of her fingertips this week but her toenails will take a little longer to grow. Sometimes babies are born with slightly disturbingly long fingernails. You can carefully nibble them or use baby nail clippers when she’s born to trim them down. Put some scratch mitts in your hospital bag so you can pop them on your tiny Nosferatu, if needs be, to prevent her scratching her face accidentally.
  • She's gaining weight rapidly – about 500g between week 28 and week 32 and then she will continue to pile on about 250g a week until she is 35 weeks old.
  • She will be developing her memory. Researchers from the Netherlands (reported in the journal Child Development) watched on an ultrasound scan how babies responded to the same stimulus if it was repeated and calculated that at 30 weeks a baby had 10 minutes of short-term memory. They also found that at 34 weeks foetuses can store information and then use that same information four weeks later. We’re not totally sure how they discovered that either, but maybe your foetus could be your secret weapon at the pub quiz this week?
week 30 the baby is the size of a cabbage

What size is the baby at 30 weeks?

This week, your baby is about 39.9cm long – about the size of a cabbage.

How is your body changing at 30 weeks pregnant?

The rise in your blood volume hasn't quite peaked at 30 weeks but you will almost certainly feel the increased blood flow to your skin and mucous membranes (nosebleed anyone?) and can't fail to notice the red soles of your feet and palms. development in the womb during week 30

This is your body's attempt to get rid of the excess heat but it makes your soles and palms itchy. All you can do it try to keep cool, especially if you’re heavily pregnant during a spell of hot weather. Take cool showers and wear loose, cotton clothing to try and keep comfortable – and definitely stick to the shade.

Pregnancy niggles in week 30

The glamour just never starts does it? Be on the lookout for vaginal infections and restless legs around this time.

Vaginal infections

It's normal to experience an increase in vaginal discharge during pregnancy but it should not smell, be green or hurt when you pass urine. Any of these symptoms should have you ringing your doctor.

It is common to get a cottage cheesey-type discharge, which for many women is a sign of thrush – a yeast infection that's associated with being a bit run down (sometimes from taking antibiotics or anything that reduces the acid environment in the vagina) and is a regular unwelcome visitor during pregnancy.

Yeast is present in the vagina anyway but pregnancy encourages it to grow. It is not sexually transmitted and won't harm your baby but you will want to scratch yourself to smithereens, so treat it with an over-the-counter cream or pessary. Tell the pharmacist you are pregnant so you can ensure anything you use is safe.

If you are not sure that what you have is thrush, you should see your doctor and in the meantime, do not wear tights, keep your vaginal area clean and avoid using any scented products in the bath or shower – just good old plain water.

Restless legs

It might seem ironic that, just at the point at which you’d quite like to sit down with your feet up for the next 10 weeks, you can suffer with restless anything. If you develop restless legs you will feel an overwhelming need to move your legs and may also feel as though you have insects crawling under the skin.

Up to a quarter of pregnant women get restless legs (it's not clear why but it usually goes four weeks after giving birth). It’s also known as Ekborn's disease, after the doctor who first described it in 1945, and it's diagnosed by four criteria:

  • An urge to move your legs
  • Unpleasant ‘crawling’ sensations (and burning or aching)
  • The urge comes on when you're resting
  • The feeling is relieved by moving and is usually worse at night.

If your symptoms are severe, ruin most evenings and disrupt your sleep, you can speak to your doctor. Some people who have restless legs say they drive them mad but for others it is only a mild annoyance.

Some people jerk their legs while they're asleep, which can upset their partner if he’s getting a boot up the backside several times a night. Since you can feel it lying in bed it can also disrupt sleep and increase tiredness in the daytime.

It can be linked to iron-deficiency anaemia, which is not uncommon in pregnancy, so it’s worth seeing your doctor as there’s a blood test that can check for this. It's also worth asking if any treatment can relieve your symptoms.

Moving your legs can help, as can distracting yourself by watching TV or getting up and doing something (anything). Regular daytime exercise may improve things, too.

Try to avoid coffee and alcohol in the evenings as they will keep you awake, and gradually wind down before turning the light off. There are drugs that can help, but these won't be offered in pregnancy.

Things to think about during week 30 of pregnancy

Your skin needs a little extra care throughout pregnancy as it’s generally more sensitive, and also being stretched in several directions at once. By the end of your pregnancy, your skin will have stretched enormously over your stomach and is likely to get dry and itchy.

You can use E45 or cheap moisturisers to stop the itchiness – do not use posh creams as they usually contain ingredients that can make itching worse.

If you find the itching is severe – and particularly if it’s on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet rather than on your bump, speak to your midwives straight away as just occasionally this can be a sign of a serious liver condition called obstetric cholestasis, which can be dangerous for both you and the baby.

What's next: 31 weeks pregnant