Your baby is now about 11 and a half inches long from the top of his head to his bottom (about 18 inches from head to toe) and weighs about 3 and a half pounds.
In week 31, his sleep patterns are becoming more regular. He's fully awake about 10 percent of the time. This is when he does his best kicking. It's also his time for yawning, blinking, sucking, and all of his other basic hobbies.
He spends about 60 percent of his time in active sleep, also called REM sleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement, but his eyes aren't the only things moving. He'll squirm every once in a while, and his heartbeat will pick up speed. In children and adults, REM sleep is the time for dreams.
At about this time, your breasts may start to fill with creamy, yellowish milk (colostrum). If you decide to breastfeed your baby, this will be his diet for his first few days after he's born. Colostrum is full of nutrients and antibodies, an ideal package for someone just entering the real world. You might notice your breasts leaking this yellowish milk, especially when you hear a baby crying in the grocery store. This is no cause for concern; using disposable breast pads can protect your clothing. It's also just one more reminder that your baby's on his way.
It's also one more reminder that you have a decision to make: Will you breastfeed or bottlefeed? If you're choosing on the basis of health and nutrition, it's really no contest. Breast milk contains the perfect balance of nutrients. It also contains antibodies that strengthen a baby's immune system.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, breast milk is the only food your baby needs for the first six months. Researchers have found that breastfeeding helps protect babies against allergies, asthma, anemia, and even sudden infant death syndrome. Breastfed babies may also be less likely to get colds and other infections later in life.
If you are unable to breastfeed or choose to feed your baby with a bottle, be sure to use an iron-fortified formula; one that contains both added iron and omega-3 fatty acids may be even better. Your pediatrician or family doctor can help you choose a type that's right for your baby.
American Academy of Family Physicians. Pregnancy Calendar. http://kidshealth.org/
Campbell, Stuart, MD. Watch Me Grow. St. Martins Griffin.
Curtis, Glade, MD. Your Pregnancy Week by Week, 5th edition. Da Capo Press.
La Leche League. FAQ: What is colostrum? Does it benefit my baby? http://www.lalecheleague.org/FAQ/colostrum.html
American Academy of Family Physicians. Tips for breastfeeding success. http://www.aafp.org/afp/20010915/991ph.html
Shanahan, M. Kelly, MD. Your Over-35 Week-by-Week Pregnancy Guide. Prima Press.
Stronghealth/University of Rochester Medical Center. Breastfeeding. http://www.stronghealth.com/services/womenshealth/maternity/breastfeedingbasics.cfm