29 weeks pregnant: baby's development, common symptoms and sleeping on your side

Your baby is about 33cm from head to bottom and about the size of a butternut squash.

Your baby’s development this week

The soft lanugo hair that used to cover your baby is starting to reduce around this week. Soon there will be just a few patches over the back and shoulders.

Your baby is still covered in vernix, which is a white sticky substance that acts as a natural moisturiser in the womb. This may still be there after your baby is born and can protect against infection in the first few days. 

Your pregnancy symptoms in week 29

Pregnancy heartburn

Your baby and womb have grown to the point that they are pushing into your stomach, which can give you heartburn. This is when the stomach acids that are normally used in the stomach to digest food are pushed upwards out of the stomach and into your throat.

Try to eat little and often, cut out caffeine and avoid fatty and spicy foods, which can make heartburn worse. 

If this doesn’t work, your midwife or doctor will be able to prescribe you something, which is suitable in pregnancy.

Here’s our guide to 10 common pregnancy complaints (and how to avoid them).

Varicose veins

Varicose veins are veins that have become swollen. The most common place to get them is in the legs. They may be blue or dark purple, and are often lumpy, bulging or twisted in appearance. They can be uncomfortable but aren’t harmful.

Varicose veins are rarely a serious condition and they do not usually require treatment. But speak to a GP if they are causing any pain, discomfort or irritation.

Some people get varicose veins in and around their vagina. This should not affect how you give birth but tell your doctor or midwife if you have them.

Belly button

Your belly button might start sticking out a bit now. It will go back in after your baby is born.

Symptoms to be aware of

Tell your midwife or doctor if you have any symptoms that you're worried about. Do not worry if you've talked about it before and don't be concerned about whether you're wasting anyone's time. This is your pregnancy and it's important to trust your own instincts if you feel something isn't right.

Signs of premature labour

If you have any of the following symptoms, call the hospital or midwife straight away, because you could be in premature labour:

  • regular contractions or tightenings
  • period-type pains or pressure in your vaginal area
  • a "show" – which is when the plug of mucus that has sealed the cervix during pregnancy comes away and out of the vagina
  • a gush or trickle of fluid from your vagina – this could be your waters breaking
  • backache that's unusual for you.

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What to do in week 29

Start going to sleep on your side

Research has shown that going to sleep on your back is linked to an increased risk of stillbirth, so it is important to remember to go to sleep on your side in the third trimester of pregnancy. You can read more about the best sleep positions in the third trimester.

Maternity leave

Week 29 is the earliest you can start your maternity leave. But many people prefer to work for longer and save their maternity leave for after they have the baby. Find out more about maternity and shared paternity leave.

Slow down but don’t give up

As your bump gets bigger, you may start to feel more easily out of breath, especially when you’re climbing stairs.

It’s ok to slow down and adjust your pace to a speed that your body can handle. But try to continue to be active as it is healthier than being sedentary (sitting down a lot).

Find out more about how active you should be during your pregnancy.

Pain relief in labour

Do you know much about pain relief in labour and birth? It’s worth reading about the pros and cons of all your options, so you can go in to labour feeling prepared.

Feeling nervous about labour

You might start to feel a bit anxious about giving birth as your pregnancy progresses. This is very common, especially in first-time parents. 
Tell your midwife or doctor how you feel. There are things you can do to ease your mind and more support is available if you need it. 

Find out more about the fear of giving birth.

1.  Regan, Lesley (2019) Your pregnancy week by week, Penguin Random House, London

2.  NHS. Your newborn baby. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/labour-and-birth/after-the-birth/getting-to-know-your-newborn/ (Page last reviewed: 15 March 2021 Next review due: 15 March 2024)

3.  NHS. Indigestion and heartburn in pregnancy. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/labour-and-birth/after-the-birth/getting-to-know-your-newborn/ (Page last reviewed: 2 December 2020 Next review due: 2 December 2023)

4.  NHS. Varicose veins. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/varicose-veins/ (Page last reviewed: 07 May 2020. Next review due: 07 May 2023) 

5.  Furuta N, et al (2013) Vaginal delivery in the presence of huge vulvar varicosities: a case report with MRI evaluation. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 167(2):127-131. https://repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/2433/173408/1/j.ejogrb.2012.11.024.pdf

6.  NHS Choices. Premature labour and birth. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/premature-early-labour/ (page last reviewed 04/11/2019 Next review due 04/11/2022)

7.  Heazell AEP et all. Association between maternal sleep practices and late stillbirth – findings from a stillbirth case-control study. BJOG2017

8.  Hofberg K and Ward M R (2003) Fear of pregnancy and childbirth Postgraduate Medical Journal 2003;79:505-510 doi:10.1136/pmj.79.935.50 https://pmj.bmj.com/content/79/935/505

Review dates
Reviewed: 11 July 2022
Next review: 11 July 2025