31 weeks pregnant: baby's development, Braxton Hicks and your baby's movements

Your baby is now about the size of a coconut!

Your baby’s development this week

Your baby is still growing in length, but they are gaining a lot of weight too. Their skin looks less wrinkled, and their face is starting to look smooth and chubby.

Your pregnancy symptoms in week 31

What are Braxton Hicks?

Braxton Hicks are when the womb contracts and relaxes. Sometimes they are known as practice labour pains. Not everyone will have Braxton Hicks contractions. If you do, you’ll usually feel them during the second or third trimester.

Braxton Hicks contractions may be uncomfortable, but they are not painful. Many describe them as feeling like mild period pain that comes and goes.

Call your midwife if your contractions become painful or regular.

Find out about 4 ways your body gets ready for labour.

My fingers hurt and keep going numb. Why is this?

Tingling, numbness and pain in your hands and fingers may be a sign of carpal tunnel syndrome. 

Carpal tunnel syndrome is pressure on a nerve in your wrist. Pregnant people are at high risk of developing it.

Sometimes it gets better by itself in a few months, particularly if you have it because you're pregnant. Speak to your midwife or doctor if it’s very painful.


Itching is common in pregnancy. But sometimes this can also be a sign of a serious liver condition called intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) or obstetric cholestasis (OC). 

Symptoms of ICP typically start from around 30 weeks of pregnancy. They include itching:

  • usually without a rash
  • that is more noticeable on the hands and feet
  • that is worse at night.
  • Talk to your midwife if you have any concerns about itching or any other symptoms. 

Feeling clumsy?

As your bump gets bigger you might feel clumsy and off-balance. Take care if you’re riding a bicycle (although the stationary ones in the gym are fine) or stepping on or off a bus or train.

Any falls or hard knocks to your bump need to be checked out by a midwife.

What to do in week 31

Go to sleep on your side

When you reach your third trimester, the advice is to go to sleep on your side. Research has shown that going to sleep on your back is linked to an increased risk of stillbirth. This advice includes daytime napping and night sleeping. Read more about safe sleep positions in pregnancy.

Your antenatal care

Your midwife or GP will measure the size of your womb and check which way up the baby is at the appointment you should have around now. 
The ideal position for birth is head down towards your stomach. Some babies may be bottom or feet first in the womb, which is known as the breech position. If your baby hasn’t turned by 36 weeks your midwife or doctor will talk to you about your options.

“I didn’t realise how late babies could keep moving until I was pregnant with my now 4 year old - he turned breech at 37 weeks (it was noticed on a growth scan) then turned head down again at 39 weeks.”

They will also take your blood pressure, test your urine for protein and discuss the results of any screening tests from your last appointment.
Find out more about your antenatal appointment schedule.


Pilates helps strengthen your pelvic floor, tummy and back muscles - not only good for preparing your body for labour, but also to help you cope with carrying your growing bump, and then lifting your baby after the birth.

Don’t worry if you can’t make it to a class. Just going for a walk can be beneficial.

Having more than 1 baby?

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that all women carrying multiple babies should plan to give birth earlier than women carrying single babies. This helps to reduce the risk of complications.  Your midwife and doctor will discuss this with you in more detail.

Find out more about giving birth to multiple babies

Should I be eating for 2?

Did you know that ‘eating for 2’ is a myth? You only need to consume an extra 200 calories in the third trimester.

Here are some 200-calorie pregnancy snack ideas to get you started!

Your baby’s movements

It is not true that babies move less towards the end of pregnancy. You should continue to feel your baby move right up to the time you go into labour and during labour.

Contact your midwife or maternity unit immediately if you think your baby’s movements have slowed down, stopped or changed. Do not wait – it’s always best to get checked out.

After your baby is born

You may have been thinking so much about your pregnancy, that you haven’t even thought about what happens after your baby arrives. Nothing can fully prepare you for parenthood, but it’s worth finding out a little more about what to expect. 

You may also find our pregnancy and post-birth wellbeing plan useful. It can help you to think ahead to make sure you have support for after the birth and have ideas for self-care.

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

2. Raines DA, Cooper DB. Braxton Hicks Contractions. 2021 Dec 16. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan–. PMID: 29262073.

3. NHS. Carpal tunnel syndrome. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/carpal-tunnel-syndrome/ (Page last reviewed: 16 February 2021 Next review due: 16 February 2024)

4. Heazell AEP, Li M, Budd J, Thompson JMD, Stacey T, Cronin RS, Martin B, Roberts D, Mitchell EA, McCowan LME. Association between maternal sleep practices and late stillbirth – findings from a stillbirth case-control study. BJOG2017; https://doi.org/10.1111/1471-0528.14967.

5. NICE (2019). Twin and triplet pregnancy. National Institute for health and care excellence https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng137

6. NICE (2015). Weight management before, during and after pregnancy. National Institute for health and care excellence https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ph27 

7. NHS. Your baby’s movements. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/your-babys-movements/ (Page last reviewed: 12 October 2021. Next review due: 12 October 2024) 

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