At week 32 of pregnancy, your baby is about 42cm (16-17 inches) long from crown to heel and weighs about 1.7kg (3.5 – 5 lbs). They are about the size of a napa cabbage (also known as Chinese cabbage).
Should your baby be born any time from this week onwards, they would have every chance of being healthy, as most of their major organs are fully developed.
Your baby at 32 weeks
The baby’s digestive tract is functional, and the baby is sucking its thumb and learning to swallow. It’s also moving about a little more erratically, as it manoeuvres for a comfortable position.
It spends its time curled up tightly. There isn’t that much space to work with anymore, after all. That said, unborn babies at 32 weeks move in a way that feels more like jabs and kicks, as opposed to gentle movements.
Most organs are fully formed
Only the lungs are not quite completely functional yet. But the baby is actually learning to inhale amniotic fluid, which is giving the lungs some much-needed conditioning and practice. As for the rest of the organs, all the systems should be fully developed and ready to function.
Fingernails are growing
Amazingly, babies are born with fingernails, and you can see them growing from this point.
Continue talking to the baby, and encourage family and your partner to do the same. Studies show that babies actually recognize familiar voices once they are born. It’s a great bonding exercise for a partner, but also for other children in the family.
Your baby is ready to move into the delivery position from this point. That is head down and bottom up, which does make birth a little easier. Some do choose to move later than others, so don’t be concerned if yours hasn’t positioned yet.
Your body: What to expect at 32 weeks
If you’ve been feeling out of breath and tired, remember that you’re carrying another person around and essentially doing the work for two. Your baby’s size is impacting your lungs, reducing their capacity.
You may also notice a change to your belly button. Some begin to stick out, while others flatten out. Either way, if you haven’t already removed any jewellery or piercings from this area, now would be the time.
- Braxton Hicks contractions. These ‘practise contractions’ are likely continuing and are just your body getting ready for labour. First-time moms do not usually experience them as much, but previous moms will likely get them earlier and more intensely.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome. Tingling in the fingers and hands – a sort of carpal tunnel syndrome – is common in pregnant moms-to-be. Try to shake it out as often as necessary, and remember to take breaks from hand-intensive work.
- Constipation. Your hormones are a little amok, naturally. One unfortunate side-effect is a disruption to your normal bodily functions. Constipation symptoms are common at this stage of pregnancy, also in part due to the changing shape of your body’s internal organs.
- Leg cramps. You might be experiencing cramps in your calves and thighs. Sometimes they can be quite painful. Try to gently stretch out when you can.
It’s also better to stand up. Sometimes you can alleviate a spasm by standing barefoot on a cold surface or using an ice pack.
- Colostrum. Your breasts may now be producing a substance called colostrum. It’s a sort of precursor to mother’s milk and is packed with essential nutrients and proteins that your baby will need in the first few days after birth. This fluid is usually sticky and slightly yellow.
- Itchy belly. Your itchy belly is continuing as the skin continues to stretch. Keep on using moisturizers and creams to reduce scratching, and take care of the dry skin.
Taking care of yourself during week 32 of pregnancy
Remember that you are just as important as the baby when it comes to taking care of. Managing your changing body, fluctuating hormones, and stress levels are key to enjoying the entire experience. So here’s what you can do, and what to expect at 32 weeks.
- Prepare your hospital bag. At close to 8 months pregnant, this may be the moment it all gets real! Time to pack that bag for a hospital stay, as the moment could hit at any time. There a couple of things to remember:
You’ll need extra underwear, socks, pyjamas, and some personal care items. Don’t forget a few items you don’t mind getting all sweaty during labour.
The baby will also need clothes, comfy wraps, and several receiving blankets. If you anticipate needing special post-birth items (maternity bra and/or breast pads) pack these, too. And don’t forget the paperwork.
- Light exercises will benefit your body. If you can maintain some sort of light exercise, you definitely should. Aside from the physical leg-up, so to speak, you’ll also feel better mentally and emotionally.
- Drink lots of water. Not only will this help with those constipation symptoms, but it will keep a good dilution balance for your urine, too.
- Eat… but don’t eat everything all at once. Try to manage your drive to eat. Chances are your body will be demanding all kinds of sustenance. Concentrate on eating small amounts more often, as opposed to large meals.
- Pelvic tilts and Kegel exercises. If you are able, try light pelvic tilts. It will strengthen the muscles you’ll need during birth. Also, remember to keep up those Kegels.