33 weeks pregnant
Seven weeks to go and
we're sure you're counting. At 33 weeks pregnant the end is definitely in sight, but there’s still lots going on inside the womb, and your baby is hitting some interesting milestones this week.
Your baby at 33 weeks
Even before he’s made landfall, your baby is becoming a social being and this week he’s developing a firm handshake and getting ready to look you in the eye when he's born. His vision is limited at first because he has to learn how to adjust the lenses in his eyes to focus on objects both close by and far away.
- He's still putting on weight, but not so rapidly as space is at a bit of a premium now.
- By week 33 your baby is likely to have shifted so that he's lying in the head-down position with his head in your pelvis and his legs up against your ribs. In first pregnancies this happens earlier – because you still have abdominal muscles to direct your baby – in later pregnancies, your baby may be swimming around a while longer. This head-down position gives you more room to breathe as there is less pressure on your diaphragm, so you may suddenly feel a bit more comfortable.
- The amniotic fluid your baby swallows helps develop his gut and bowels: it contains up 10-15% of the protein your baby needs for growing them. Your baby's bowels will take a while to develop fully – they’re pretty complicated to make.
- Other organs like the liver also take a while to mature. At birth, your baby's liver may struggle to break down a substance called bilirubin, some of which the body makes naturally. This is the stuff that, in high levels, makes babies look a bit yellow (known as jaundice). This is particularly common in premature babies, who may be given light therapy to improve this.
- One of the most important milestones this week is that your baby’s immune system is complete and he’ll already be receiving antibodies from you to protect him from all sorts of nasties out in the big wide world. After he’s born he can continue to receive your antibodies during breastfeeding – particularly from the very first milk you produce, called colostrum.
- His heart rate has been slowing down from its original gallop you’ll have seen at the 20-week scan to a more sedate average of 142 beats a minute. It speeds up when he moves his arms or legs and seems to peak between 8am and 10am and slow down between 2am and 6am.
- He may be developing a taste for specific foods. During this last trimester he will be swallowing up to a litre of amniotic fluid a day and the flavour of the foods you eat can be passed into the fluid. So if you want to share a curry with him sooner rather than later, you can! There’s some evidence to show that once you’re full term, a curry can also help get labour started due to the way it stimulates the bowel. It’s not scientifically proven but there are definitely less enjoyable ways to get things going, so it’s worth a try!
What size is the baby at 33 weeks?
By week 33, your baby’s size and weight will differ quite wildly from any other baby of the same gestation, but broadly speaking he’ll weigh just under 2 kilos and will be about the size of a pineapple.
How is your body changing at 33 weeks pregnant?
It’s around this time that the amount of amniotic fluid is at its lowest level so you might find that you are feeling your baby’s movements a bit more sharply than previously.
The levels of amniotic fluid rise and fall constantly so if you happen to have a scan around this time and they look high or low, don’t panic just yet. The doctors may want to keep an eye on things as the wrong levels can cause problems, but you may find you have a scan a couple of days later and levels are back to normal.
You can feel like you’re losing your mind a bit during pregnancy but it’s worth remembering that a lot of the emotional ‘stuff’ you deal with has a physical cause. Most women tend to feel on a slightly more even keel after the first trimester but there’s no doubt that hormones continue to rage throughout pregnancy and you may still find you cry at the slightest thing.
A news item about a cat stuck up a tree will make you sob uncontrollably and any sad stories about sick babies or starving children will likely have a real impact. Pregnancy seems to trigger a deeper response to these things and to preserve your sanity you may want to avoid tragic stories and give the news a miss for a bit.
If hormones are leaving you feeling a bit wrung out and anxious at this stage, you might find antenatal classes are helpful. There’s nothing quite like being armed with all the facts as well as some peer support to help you get things into perspective. You might also want to connect with other mums at the same stage of pregnancy on the Mumsnet Talk boards.
Pregnancy niggles in week 33
As you approach the final furlong, you’ll be starting to feel well and truly ready for maternity leave. It’s a pretty exhausting few weeks, with your baby growing fast and the extra weight you’re carrying making everyday tasks feel that bit more arduous.
Late pregnancy insomnia
Just as you get comfortable you'll find your baby will shift position and you'll have to start all over again. Then your bladder will feel full and you'll be waddling off to the toilet. You may also find that when you're quiet and in bed your mind is working overtime rather than relaxing.
If circumstances allow for it, have a nap or just a proper lie-down for an hour in the day whenever you can. Some workplaces might have a first aid room or similar where you can do this if you’re still at work, but otherwise just make the most of your weekends and tell family and your partner you are OFF duty for this time.
At night, try to gradually relax before you go to bed – have a milky drink and read a book and just slowly wind down, rather than going at it full pelt before flinging yourself exhausted into bed.
Make sure your room is as comfortable, dark and quiet as possible – and don’t lie in bed staring at your smartphone. Much smarter to turn out the light and let your eyes and brain have a breather.
In a few short weeks you’ll be up several times a night to your baby so bank as many eight-hour nights as you can now.
Things to think about during week 33 of pregnancy
Keep calm and carry on growing a baby. Worry can do funny things to your mind so try to channel your inner earth mother (it’s in there somewhere – dig really deep!) and remain as zen as you’re able to with puffy ankles, an achy back and constipation.
Stress and work in pregnancy
At some point some well-meaning but interfering individual will tell you about how harmful stress is to unborn babies. It is true that stress hormones can cross over to the placenta and some studies also find work can affect babies in utero. One research study showed that teachers and others who stand a lot at work had babies who weighed on average 500g less than women who did not have these types of job.
If you're stressed or have a job that means you stand a great deal, there may be little you can do about it. But any effect on your baby will be small and if you can compensate by sitting down with your feet up whenever you can and trying to avoid letting stressful situations get to you, then this will help. You should also tell your antenatal team if you're worried or finding work too much.
Whatever you do though, don’t let worry about being stressed stress you out. That would be ridiculous.
It's common to have strange and very vivid dreams in pregnancy that can be upsetting and feel incredibly real. It’s quite common that they involve the death or illness of children or babies – really horrible things – but they don't mean anything. It’s the fact that your sleep is interrupted that means you are more likely to recall them so vividly, so try not to let them affect you and bear in mind that they’re very common.
On the plus side, lots of women also have enormously vivid raunchy dreams about Tom Hardy, so you might get lucky and have one of those instead!