WEEK 32: Loading up on the cortisol
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32 weeks pregnant: baby gets ready for their ‘birth’ day

In week 32 your baby will produce larger than usual amounts of cortisol during pregnancy in preparation for labour. Pregnancy hormones like this may make your digestive system slow, but there are ways you can cope.

In Pregnancy

    4-minutes read

    At a glance

    Eat fibre-rich food, such as dried fruit, and drink lots of fluids to encourage your digestion

    Eat colourful, natural fruits and vegetables to get the daily vitamins you need

     

    Baby shower time? Most mums-to-be have theirs 4-8 weeks before baby arrives

    Have an antenatal check-up this week – then again on weeks 36, 38 and 40

    Baby's development at 32 weeks pregnant

    The size of your baby at 32 weeks is about the size of a honeydew melon. Although their ‘birth’ day is still some weeks away your baby is looking more and more like a proper little human now. Their skin is starting to lose its redness and become less transparent thanks to fat accumulating underneath. The adrenal glands are disproportionately big at the moment as they prep baby for labour – they’re small glands on top of each kidney that produce hormones, including cortisol. Cortisol helps baby respond to stress, and even helps induce labour when the time is right. It also lets organs like the lungs mature.

    Right now, baby is producing ten times more cortisol than a normal adult, but once born the adrenal glands will shrink until they’re in proportion.

    Changes in you and your body at 32 weeks pregnant

    Weirdly, getting kicked should be a thing to look forward to right now. Kick-counting apps are worth downloading since it’s important to monitor your baby’s movement. If they have reduced movement you’ll want to be seen by the hospital right away.

    Is your itchy belly feeling itchier? Not surprising with the final stretch upon you. If your moisturising cream isn’t soothing enough try calamine lotion. There are even over-the-counter anti-itch creams available these days. Oats are known to soothe so you could always add them to your warm-ish bath for extra relief. While itching is very common, it’s best to tell your midwife or GP in case it requires a closer look.

    Nutrition at 32 weeks pregnant

    By now your uterus is so big it’s crowding your insides and you might have that ‘always full feeling’. Your appetite may decrease rather than increase, so try to eat regular healthy snacks rather than big meals — even half a banana counts.

    Has your digestive system been a bit slow lately? It’s just those hormone levels, like your ‘stress hormone’ (cortisol), rising during pregnancy. On that note, too much cortisol in mum isn’t great for baby. So, if you can’t stand the heat, get someone else in the kitchen while you put your mind at ease and your feet up.

    Now, back to the food. Try eating fibre-rich food to help your bowels function better and improve your feeling of wellbeing. If you’re not used to eating a lot of fibre it’s best to increase your intake gradually to avoid bloating and diarrhoea. Remember, drink lots of water to keep the fibre moving through your digestive tract.

    Here’s a few easy ways to up your fibre intake:

    • Eat the skin on washed fruit and veg, that’s where most of the fibre is

    • Choose wholegrain instead of white: bread, rice, crackers and cereals

    • Add beans or lentils to your soups and salads – they are so high in fibre

    • Berries, pears, melons and oranges are among the highest fibre fruits

    • Did you know artichokes are one of the most fibrous vegetables?

    Pregnancy tips

    There are so many lovely baby things available these days. But what do you actually need? Here’s a handy baby wardrobe starter-pack:

    • Five to seven bodysuits, tops and sleep-suits.

    • One or two little cotton caps.

    • A couple of giant swaddle blankets (after a few views of ‘how to swaddle a baby’ videos on YouTube).

    • A sleep bag for when they are a little older.

    • Cardigans, rain/snowsuits if the weather calls for it.

    • Sun or wool hats according to the season.

    Babies outgrow their clothes really quickly – they don’t stay tiny for long! So, don’t buy too much. And don’t forget a baby-seat for the car. You’ll need one to get home from the hospital. Read more about baby’s first clothes

    You can find everything you need to help you prepare for baby’s arrival here. On top of this, you’ll need equipment for sleeping, bathing, changing nappies, eating and playing.

    On the subject of fun and games, have you thought about a baby shower? Some people arrange one before the baby arrives, when they are more able to mingle. This also helps as people often bring gifts so you can cross some of your shopping list off before baby arrives. No one needs five baby bouncers, unless you’re the proud carrier of quintuplets. You may prefer to save celebrations until after baby’s grand entrance and host a meet-the-baby kind of event once you’re a bit more settled. Be prepared for baby to be passed around a lot.

    One more thing to prepare now, is your hospital bags. Three is the magic number. One for labour, one for afterwards and one for the baby. Your partner should pack a bag too. If you suddenly go into labour, the last thing you’ll want to deal with is packing.

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    Important advice to mothers

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. SMA® Nutrition fully supports this and continued breastfeeding, along with the introduction of complementary foods as advised by your healthcare professional.