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33 weeks pregnant - all you need to know

Wow, your baby has reached the size of a pineapple! (or thereabouts).

33 weeks infographic.

What does my baby look like in week 33?

By now your baby’s nervous system is fully developed. Their bones are also starting to firm up.

If you’ve been worried about how on earth you’re going to give birth to a baby bigger than a pineapple - fear not. Your baby’s skull is specially designed to make their exit out of the birth canal easier.

It stays soft and separated until after the birth so that it can move and slide while still protecting his brain.

Your symptoms - what's happening

Tiredness

Tiredness is likely to be kicking in now, especially if you’re having trouble sleeping. Try to put your feet up as much as you can.

Worrying about sleep problems can make it worse, but it's very hard not to think about them.

Try having a milky drink before bed and let your body rest, even if you can't sleep. Avoid caffeine, which is found in coffee, tea, chocolate and some fizzy drinks. You can check your caffeine intake with this caffeine calculator.

If you’re tired, see if you can have a later start at work. That might help you make up some sleep in the morning. Talk to your midwife or GP if sleeplessness becomes a real issue for you.

It might also be difficult to get comfortable in bed. This can be even more of a problem if you need to get up to wee more often because the baby is pressing on your bladder!

The safest sleeping position is on either side but not on your back. Going to sleep on your back has been found to increase the risk of stillbirth. If you wake up on your back, however, don’t worry, just roll onto your side again. It’s very unlikely you were in that position for long.

Back pain

Do you have back pain? It’s not uncommon. Make sure you bend your knees rather than your back when you pick things up, and try to avoid carrying anything too heavy (although this is easier said than done if you already have a young child).

It’s not too late to try something like pilates or aquanatal to help strengthen your back.

What to do in week 33

Go to sleep on your side if you're not already doing so

When you reach your third trimester, the advice is to go to sleep on your side because 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

Yoga

Yoga is a great form of exercise for this stage of pregnancy. It works your muscles and won’t put too much strain on your joints. You’ll also use breathing techniques that could help you during labour.

In particular, toning up your pelvic floor muscles will help prevent you accidentally leaking wee when you cough or strain, both during your pregnancy and after your baby is born.

Plan ahead

Life with a little one is going to be a whole new world. It can be a good idea to do some practical things at home to prepare for your arrival – when you’re going to have your hands full.

Think about getting your house baby ready (where are you going to change your little one’s nappies? Where are they going to sleep?). Consider stocking your freezer with meals for the early days when cooking will be difficult.

What you need for your newborn

Have you packed your hospital bag yet? It’s not too soon to get packing. There’s no harm in being prepared.

“Work out where and when your breastfeeding support groups are and go in pregnancy. Then when you have a newborn and are struggling to get out the house, going to the group won’t seem as daunting.”

Maria, mum of two

Read are our tips to help you stay stress-free in pregnancy.

Sources

NHS Choices. You and your baby at 33–36 weeks pregnant. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pregnancy-weeks-33-34-35-36.aspx (Page last reviewed: 31/03/2017 Next review due: 31/03/2020).

Heazell AEP, Li M et al (2017) Association between maternal sleep practices and late stillbirth – findings from a stillbirth case-control study. BJOG 2017; https://doi.org/10.1111/1471-0528.14967.

Stacey T, Thompson JM et al (2011) Association between maternal sleep practices and risk of late stillbirth: a case-control study. BMJ. 2011 Jun 14;342:d3403. doi: 10.1136/bmj.d3403.

Gordon A1, Raynes-Greenow C et al (2015) Sleep position, fetal growth restriction, and late-pregnancy stillbirth: the Sydney stillbirth study. Obstet Gynecol. 2015 Feb;125(2):347-55. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000000627.

RCOG (2006). Recreational exercise in pregnancy: information for you. https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/patient-information-leaflets/pregnancy/recreational-exercise-and-pregnancy.pdf

Smith CA, Levett KM et al (2011) Relaxation techniques for pain management in labour, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 7 (12): CD009514. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD009514: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22161453

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Last reviewed on June 29th, 2018. Next review date June 29th, 2021.

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