32 weeks pregnant: baby's development, discharge and making a birth plan

Your baby is about the size of a squash.

Your baby’s development this week 

Your baby’s eyes will start opening and closing as they start learning to focus. Their brain and nervous system are almost fully developed too.

Your pregnancy symptoms in week 32

How much discharge is normal?

It’s normal to have more vaginal discharge in pregnancy. Healthy vaginal discharge is usually thin, clear or milky white, and should not smell unpleasant. Find out more about vaginal discharge in pregnancy. 

Call your maternity unit straight away if you have leaking or gushing liquid. This may be your waters breaking early.

Tell your midwife or the maternity unit immediately if the waters are smelly or coloured or you're losing blood. This could mean that you and your baby need urgent attention.

Breathlessness and heart palpitations

Mild breathlessness is common in pregnancy. At this point, it may be because your growing uterus is putting pressure on your diaphragm. It’s important to listen to your body and rest when you need to.

Some people get heart palpitations in pregnancy. Heart palpitations are heartbeats that suddenly become more noticeable. Your heart may feel like it’s pounding or fluttering.

Talk to your midwife or doctor if you have any concerns about your heart or breathing. Call 999 for an ambulance or go to your nearest A&E if you have heart palpitations and any of the following symptoms:

  • severe shortness of breath
  • chest pain or tightness
  • dizziness or light-headedness
  • fainting or blackouts.

Things to do in week 32

Have your whooping cough vaccine

Young babies that get whooping cough can get very ill. All pregnant women are offered a vaccination to protect their baby in the first few weeks of life. 

It’s best to do this before 32 weeks of pregnancy, but it’s not too late. You can still have the vaccine until you go into labour.

Protect yourself from infections

Getting an infection in pregnancy is not likely to harm your baby. But it is important to be aware of the infections that can cause complications and do what you can to avoid them.

Simple things such as washing your hands regularly and avoiding certain foods can help.

Find out more about infections in pregnancy.

Practise your breathing

If you haven’t already, now’s the time to start practising your breathing. Slow rhythmic breathing will put you into a more relaxed state that should help you cope better in labour. If you are interested in hypnobirthing, we have more information you can read.

Find out about classes that can teach you breathing techniques before the birth. Your hospital will usually run free antenatal classes that tell you all about what happens during labour and birth.

“I found breathing was the best form of pain relief throughout my labour. My husband counted me through the breaths. I couldn’t have done it without him.”
Louise, mum of 2

Read more about what happens during labour and birth.

Your birth plan

It’s not too early to start thinking about making your birth plan. This helps everyone know what you want during labour and birth. It also helps you (and your birth partner) feel better prepared for labour and birth. 

It can include information about:

  • your birth partner
  • what kind of pain relief you want
  • whether you want an injection to help you deliver the placenta
  • whether you want to leave cutting the cord (delayed cord clamping) until all the blood in it has been transferred to your baby.

Your midwife can go through your options with you and help you write the plan if you want.

Try to remember that birth plans need to be flexible. Your plan may need to be changed for your or your baby’s safety and wellbeing. Any change will be discussed and explained to you by your midwife.

Also remember that you might change your mind on the day about how you would like things to happen – and that’s fine too!

We also have a pregnancy and post-birth wellbeing plan, which is like a birth plan but for your mental wellbeing. It can help you think ahead to make sure you are supported after the birth. You can complete the wellbeing plan at any point during your pregnancy.

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

2. NHS. Vaginal discharge. https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/pregnancy-symptom-checker/discharge-pregnancy (Page last reviewed: 31 March 2021 Next review due: 31 March 2024)

3. Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (2019) When your waters break prematurely https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/patients/patient-leaflets/when-your-waters-break-prematurely/

4. NHS. Heart palpitations. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heart-palpitations/ (Page last reviewed: 7 June 2022 Next review due: 7 June 2025)

5. NHS. Whooping cough vaccination in pregnancy. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/whooping-cough-vaccination/ (Page last reviewed: 17 October 2019 Next review due: 17 October 2022)

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