You’ve almost reached the home stretch! At 32 weeks pregnant, you’re nearing the end of your third trimester. Here’s a look at what you can expect during this exciting stage as you prepare to meet your baby.
Key Takeaways When 32 Weeks Pregnant
- Your baby is around the size of a jicama or head of cauliflower and weighs 3-4 pounds.
- Common symptoms include back pain, trouble sleeping, leg cramps, swelling, and stretch marks.
- The baby has likely turned head down in preparation for birth.
- Your prenatal visits may start to include pelvic exams and tests for group B strep.
- Focus on completing tasks like installing the car seat, packing your hospital bag, and taking childbirth and breastfeeding classes.
- While still considered early term, babies born at 32 weeks have a high chance of survival with a low risk of long-term health issues.
Baby’s Development at 32 Weeks
At 32 weeks pregnant, your baby is around 16-17 inches long and weighs approximately 3-4 pounds. The average length and weight at this stage is similar to that of a jicama or cauliflower head. Their bones are fully developed but still soft and pliable.
Your baby’s eyelids are open more often now, so they may be able to detect changes in light. Their irises can now constrict and dilate. Your baby’s pupils may react to light even though their eyes remain closed.
Your baby’s toenails and fingernails have grown in! Their skin is also less wrinkly as a layer of fat starts to develop underneath. This “baby fat” helps regulate body temperature once your little one arrives.
Your baby’s brain and nervous system continue maturing. New brain cells are developing at a rapid pace. The nerves in their ears start working around 32 weeks, so your baby may be able to hear noises while in the womb. Their lungs are developing surfactant, a substance that keeps the air sacs in the lungs from collapsing. This aids breathing once your baby is born.
Common Symptoms at 32 Weeks Pregnant
You may experience the following common symptoms when you are 32 weeks pregnant:
- Back pain: Your growing belly shifts your center of gravity, strains muscles, and places stress on your lower back. Consider seeing a physical therapist or chiropractor for help relieving back pain. Also focus on posture, wear supportive shoes, and avoid lifting heavy objects.
- Sleep problems: It may be difficult to get comfortable enough to sleep well at this stage. Try using pillows for support. Sleeping on your left side with a pillow between your legs may help take pressure off your back. Avoid screens before bed and soak in a warm bath to promote sleep.
- Leg cramps: Muscle cramps in your calves or thighs are common as weight gain puts pressure on nerves and blood vessels. Stretching, massage, warm baths, magnesium supplements, and increased calcium and potassium intake can provide relief.
- Swelling: Your ankles, feet, legs, hands, and face may swell due to water retention and increased blood flow. Elevate your feet, avoid tight clothing and socks, drink plenty of water, and limit sodium to reduce swelling. Notify your doctor about sudden or severe swelling.
- Stretch marks: Your growing belly may cause reddish or purplish stretch marks on the abdomen, breasts, thighs, or buttocks. Moisturizing daily and staying hydrated may minimize them. Most will fade after delivery.
Baby’s Position and Engaging at 32 Weeks
At 32 weeks, your baby should be settling into the head down position in preparation for birth. This is known as the vertex position. Their head may be pressing against your pelvis as they start engaging and dropping lower into your pelvis. You may feel increased pelvic pressure and notice it’s easier to breathe as your baby drops down.
Your doctor will check the baby’s position at your prenatal visits. If your baby is still in the breech (bottom-first) or transverse (sideways) position closer to your due date, your provider may recommend techniques to encourage turning head down before attempting external cephalic version, a procedure to manually flip the baby.
Rarely, a baby will stay in the breech position up until labor begins. This may require a planned C-section birth if your baby does not flip over naturally as labor progresses.
Prenatal Care and Testing at 32 Weeks
During the 32nd week of pregnancy, your prenatal checkups may start to include the following:
- Pelvic exams: Pelvic exams allow your provider to assess changes in the cervix and baby’s position in late pregnancy. External exams press on the abdomen, while internal exams use gloved fingers to check the cervix’s softness, dilation, and effacement. These get you used to the sensation in preparation for labor.
- Group B strep test: This simple test screens for group B streptococcus, a bacteria commonly found in the vagina or rectum. Left untreated, GBS infection in newborors can cause infant pneumonia, sepsis, and meningitis. Women are tested around weeks 35-37. If positive, IV antibiotics during labor prevent transmission to the baby.
- Additional tests: Your provider may order follow-up ultrasounds or bloodwork if issues like high blood pressure or gestational diabetes arise. Nonstress tests can check on the baby’s heart rate in response to movement.
- Discussion of labor plans: Your provider will discuss preferences for labor induction or cesarean if you go past your due date. Let them know your wishes regarding pain management, labor positions, episiotomy, and other interventions. Birth plans can evolve based on circumstances.
Healthy Lifestyle and Preparing for Baby at 32 Weeks
Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and preparing for your baby’s arrival during your 32nd week of pregnancy:
- Continue getting moderate exercise like brisk walking. This prepares your body for labor and delivery. Do kegels to strengthen your pelvic floor. Practice squats to open up your hips.
- Eat plenty of fiber and drink lots of water to avoid constipation. Increase protein and iron intake to support your growing baby. Take your prenatal vitamins.
- Attend breastfeeding and childbirth education classes. Learn about what to expect during labor and how to feed and care for your newborn.
- Install the car seat base in your vehicle. Infant car seats must be rear-facing starting on the ride home from the hospital.
- Pack your hospital bag with clothes, toiletries, and electronics. Don’t forget your partner’s things too. Also prepare any items needed when you get home.
- Set up the crib, change table, and other nursery furniture. Wash all newborn clothes, sheets, and blankets so everything is ready.
- Sit down and rest whenever possible. Take breaks and put your feet up. Sleep and nap as much as you can.
- Avoid environmental toxins and chemicals like cat litter, paint fumes, and harsh cleaning products. Steer clear of hot tubs and saunas which may be dangerous.
Preparing for Early Labor at 32 Weeks
At 32 weeks pregnant, your baby still has over a month to go until full term, which is around 39-40 weeks. But labor might start on its own even closer to the end of your third trimester. Here’s what to know if you were to go into premature labor and give birth this early:
- Babies born at 32 weeks are considered early term rather than premature. The chances for survival are very good, around 98-99%.
- With medical care in the NICU, babies at 32 weeks are likely to have good long-term health and development outcomes.
- Steroid shots can speed up fetal lung development if you show signs of early labor before 34 weeks. This improves breathing if born prematurely.
- Babies this early may have initial trouble regulating body temperature, feeding, and blood sugar levels. Breastfeeding helps stabilize these.
- Your baby would need to stay in the NICU until they can maintain body heat and eat well on their own without breathing issues, often around the original due date.
- Make sure your hospital bag has NICU items like premie diapers, small blankets, and an outfit to bring your baby home.
- Don’t panic if early labor starts. Focus on staying calm and getting to the hospital. The chances are excellent your baby will do well even if born closer to 32 weeks.
FAQs: 32 Weeks Pregnant
What size is the baby at 32 weeks pregnant?
At 32 weeks, your baby is around 1.5-2 pounds and 16-17 inches long from head to toe. This is about the size of a large jicama or cauliflower head.
How much weight should I have gained at 32 weeks pregnant?
The recommended weight gain by 32 weeks is around 22-28 pounds if you started at a normal BMI. It’s important not to gain too little or too much weight at this stage. Discuss your weight gain with your doctor.
What common symptoms may occur at 32 weeks pregnant?
Frequent symptoms in the 32nd week include back pain, trouble sleeping, leg cramps, swelling in the hands and feet, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, shortness of breath, fatigue, and stretch marks as your belly expands.
What tests may happen at 32 weeks pregnant?
Your provider may begin performing pelvic exams to check the baby’s position. They may also test for group B strep around weeks 35-37. Additional ultrasounds or nonstress tests can check the baby’s growth and wellbeing if complications arise.
How can I prepare for birth and baby’s arrival at 32 weeks?
Ways to prepare include taking childbirth classes, practicing breathing and relaxation techniques, choosing your pediatrician, installing the car seat properly, packing a hospital bag, stocking up on postpartum supplies, babyproofing your home, and making meal and childcare plans for after delivery.
What if I go into labor at 32 weeks pregnant?
While still considered early term, the chances for a healthy outcome are very high if born at 32 weeks. Your baby may just need some extra time and support with breathing, feeding, and temperature regulation in the NICU before coming home by the original due date.
In summary, the 32nd week of pregnancy marks a major milestone before birth as your baby’s development ramps up and preparations shift into high gear. Fully term is still over a month away, but know that even if baby arrives early the odds are strongly in their favor. Focus on nourishment, rest, comfort and staying connected to your little one. You’ve made it through another milestone, and the finish line is getting closer every day!