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Your Pregnancy: Week 31

Your Baby

Your baby is packing on the ounces at such a clip that his weight gain outpaces the speed at which his limbs are growing. He's now almost 15 inches from head to toe. He's shedding the lanugo, and his eyebrows and eyelashes are filling in.

Your Body

Your prepregnancy shoes may no longer fit you well. Pressure from your increasingly heavy uterus is funneling blood and other fluids to your legs, resulting in swollen feet. It's also squeezing your stomach, which makes it difficult to eat without quickly feeling too full. Elevate your feet at every opportunity and, if weather permits, wear sandals.

Do's and Don'ts

Do write a birth plan if you haven't already. It will make you think ahead to choices you will need to make about labor and delivery. Think about whether or not you want an epidural, which birthing positions you'd like to try, and, if you are having a boy, whether you'd like him to be circumcised. While childbirth may not turn out exactly as you imagine it, the document will be a useful reminder of your goals once you're in labor. If you want to do a little research on the pros and cons of your choices, now's the time.

Health

When you're pregnant, your eyes can become easily irritated and sensitive to light, so ask your ophthalmologist to recommend eye drops. Take frequent breaks from the computer screen, and if you use contacts, wear them for fewer hours each day than you ordinarily do.

Mom to Mom

Advice from the trenches: "My biggest regret is not making sure that the mirror above me was properly positioned so I could view everything that was going on."--Beth Laserre, Fishing Creek, NJ

Shopping

Decorate the nursery without breaking the bank by using premade stencils that cover the whole room for under $50. Or make one yourself by drawing a simple design (star, moon, heart), photocopying it onto a sheet of Mylar, and cutting it out.

Exercise

Multitask by doing your Kegels while watching TV or reading the paper. Kegel exercises help to strengthen vaginal muscles and to prevent incontinence during pregnancy and postpartum. Contract and release the muscles between your vagina and anusĀ -- as if you're trying to suppress and release your urine midstream. Do this for a few minutes at a time, once or twice a day.

Relationships

According to the manners police, you should send a thank-you note within three weeks of receiving a gift. To speed things up, try to write one person each day, and before you know it, you'll be all done. But start now, because you'll never get to it after the baby comes.

Siblings

Consider your firstborn's age as you set expectations about how welcoming he'll be to the new baby. Preschoolers may be nurturing and will probably want to help care for their little sibling, but toddlers won't understand and may be less receptive to upheaval in their lives.

Twins

There's a good chance you'll deliver weeks earlier than your due date, as do many women with multiples. Draft a must-do list and rank the items by priority; check off the tasks you've completed, and if you haven't gotten to them all by the time labor starts, hand the list to a trusted friend and ask for help finishing up.

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