Your baby is now 11 and three quarters inches long from head to rump (nearly 19 inches from head to toe) and weighs almost 4 pounds. She looks like a slightly scaled-down version of a healthy full-term baby. The rest of her body is catching up with her large head, making her better proportioned.
Even the smallest details are just about finished in week 32. Her toenails and fingernails are complete, and she has eyelashes and eyebrows.
She's making the most of her last few weeks of aquatic life. She continues to swallow amniotic fluid, and she can now fill and empty her bladder. She breathes a lot, too, letting the fluid give her lungs a good workout.
By now, she's probably settled into her birth position. Ideally, that means she's head down. But you may be noticing signs that she isn't following the rules. If your baby is head up -- the breech position -- you may feel kicks at the bottom of your abdomen, or you may even feel her head at the top of your belly. Your doctor or midwife might be able to tell how your baby is lying just by feeling your abdomen. Of course, an ultrasound will settle the matter.
If your baby is in a breech position, you may need to rethink your birth plan. Because normal labor and delivery can be dangerous for breech babies, they are usually delivered via cesarean section.
It's possible for a breech baby to be born vaginally, but most providers will permit the attempt only if both you and your baby meet a long list of criteria. (For example, your baby needs to weigh between 5 and 8 pounds, and she must be coming out bottom first instead of feet first.) If you had been planning on a home birth, you should rethink those plans. Most midwives advise women with breech babies to give birth in a hospital in case a cesarean section becomes necessary.
But even if your baby is breech now, she may not stay that way. Your doctor or midwife may be able to gently turn her into the proper position. Your baby may even change position on her own. If she does, be sure to thank her later for her cooperation.
American Academy of Family Physicians. Pregnancy Calendar. http://kidshealth.org/small>
Campbell, Stuart, MD. Watch Me Grow. St. Martins Griffin. small>
Curtis, Glade, MD. Your Pregnancy Week by Week, 5th edition. Da Capo Press. small>
University of Michigan Health System. Vaginal delivery of breech babies. http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/wha/wha_vagbree_crs.htm
American College of Nurse-Midwives. The trial of a midwife in Illinois. http://www.acnm.org/press/print.cfm?id=282
Shanahan, M. Kelly, MD. Your Over-35 Week-by-Week Pregnancy Guide. Prima Publishing.
American Family Physician. Breech Babies: What Can I Do if My Baby Is Breech? http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/women/pregnancy/labor/310.html