33 Weeks Pregnant: Fetus, Belly, Symptoms and Weight Gain

In Week 33, your uterus continues to gear up for labor through the occasional contractions. Many moms are unable to sleep well at night – instead, it’s their feet that fall asleep while they are asleep, affecting the quality of the sleep they get. While the body prepares itself for labor, Baby is also busy growing and preparing for life postpartum and beyond. Let’s find out what’s going on in Week 33.

Symptoms: Back pain and Braxton Hicks contractions

pregnancy backpain

The fundal height in Week 33 is 11.0 to 14.2 in (28 to 36 cm) and the top of the uterus is slightly more than 5 inches above your navel. As your body tries to support the growing uterus, it might be difficult to stay in the same position for too long.

Common complaints include pain in the waist, the back, the base of one’s feet or in the pubic bone area. It is possible that you are suffering from back pain conditions like pelvic girdle pain (PGP), sciatica, or pelvic pain conditions like symphysis pubic dysfunction (SPD).

From Week 33 onwards, some moms might find themselves seized by irregular contractions. You might have already experienced these irregular contractions called Braxton Hicks contractions, which are different from true labor.

Also known as “false” contractions, Braxton Hicks contractions are usually irregular, varies in terms of the degree of pain, and usually do not last for long and will subside if you take a rest or change positions.

Symptoms: Weight gain, big belly, fitful sleep

pregnant woman sleep

In Week 33 of pregnancy, moms might find themselves having insufficient sleep as their bellies grow bigger and their bodies become heavier. The effects of estrogen also contribute to having fitful sleep: Estrogen stimulates the brain and makes you excited, and also interferes with melatonin production, which actually helps to make you feel sleepy when your surroundings are dark.

During this period of time, pregnant moms might also have more nightmares. One common conjecture is that moms might be feeling the pregnancy blues when they worry over the uncertainties of motherhood that they have to face when the baby is born.

You might not have control over your body or the things you think of in your sleep, but there are things you can try out to improve the quality of your sleep. If you do some walking exercises during the day, or soak yourself in a tub of warm water to relax your body, that might help make you sleep better at night.

Also, when you are tired, take a break from work or household chores and lie down to rest for awhile. Use cushions or pillows to prop your leg up and go into the Sims position, and it just might help you feel better. Take a timeout and let your body rest.

Your weight will increase even in the late stages of pregnancy but it’s a good idea to check with your practitioner and find out what your ideal weight gain for this week is. Any more or less than the ideal range might be a precursor to health risks and other complications for you and your baby, so watch those scales!

33 Weeks Pregnant: Sonogram of fetus in belly

Week33 scan

The fetus in Week 33 is 16.5 to 17.7 in (42 to 45 cm) long and weighs about 3.5 to 5.1 lbs (1.6 to 2.3 kg). The fetus is now putting on more weight and bulking up. Although they continue to grow longer as well, their height will not increase significantly during this period of time.

The amount of amniotic fluid in the uterus reaches its peak in Week 33, and will slowly decrease from this week onward. The fetus turns into a heads-down position and gets ready for labor and delivery. The fetus is now more or less the infant that will greet you on the delivery day.

Instead of floating in the amniotic fluid as they did before, the fetus is fully immersed in the amniotic fluid, and will continue to grow until they almost touch the walls of the uterus. When your baby changes position, you might see bulges on your belly when Baby uses their hands and feet to move around. These tell you that your fetus is now bigger than your uterus.

Fetus’ growth

  • Five senses are working and the fetus has emotions

  • Drinks in amniotic fluid and expels it out as urine

  • The 300 odd bones in the fetus are more or less completely formed

  • Alternates between sleeping and waking states every 20 minutes

  • Fetus can protect themselves as they have, in addition to the immunity Mom gives to them, their own immunity system

  • Lanugo (soft, fine hair) on the face and body drops off

  • Hair starts sprouting

  • The fingernails grow to the tip of the fingers

33 Weeks Pregnant: Labor

pregnant woman doctor

As the delivery date draws near, it is only normal to feel a little unsure about this – labor, motherhood, me? If you have not ventured into these waters before, just imagining the pain of the contractions and labor might leave you breaking out in a cold sweat. It might be difficult, but keep calm and you’ll be able to carry yourself through the whole labor process.

When you enter the last trimester of pregnancy, talk to your practitioner about the methods of labor, the whole process of the birth from start to finish, and construct it in your head to get an idea of it.

Imagining the whole process will help you in dealing with the actual labor. It’s recommended that you find out more about what a C-section is like, especially if your baby is in breech presentation. For those who have a birth plan in place, think through it again and then send a copy to the hospital of your choice so that you are well-prepared and the actual labor doesn’t catch you off guard.

33 Weeks Pregnant: Braxton Hicks contractions

pregnant woman doctor hand

Abdominal pains in the third trimester will most likely come in the form of Braxton Hicks contractions. As a result, some moms mistake preterm labor for Braxton Hicks contractions and dismiss the need to call the hospital, resulting in immediate hospitalization when their condition worsens or when the contractions start getting “real”.

When you’re hit by contractions, keep calm, note the type of contractions you have, and determine if you need to get yourself hospitalized. When you are out or have been standing for a long time, you might find yourself subject to more contractions, so sit when you have to, rest more and don’t strain your body.

Go to the hospital as soon as possible – even if you’re having a preterm labor, early intervention and every additional day in the womb gives your baby a better chance at a healthy life, so don’t simply dismiss signs of trouble. Consult your practitioner, and do what you can to prolong the pregnancy.

When is it time to go to the hospital?

  • Regular contractions: Intervals of 10-15 minutes between contractions could possibly be an indication of true labor contractions
  • Tightness in the belly, bleeding and water breaking

  • The contractions don’t subside even after you rest for more than 30 minutes

A leap forward to labor: Taking as many steps as you can

pregnant woman flower

With each passing day, your belly becomes heavier and it becomes more difficult to move your body. There is only a month left until the pregnancy becomes a full-term pregnancy, and it’s only a matter of time before you get to meet Baby. Pushing yourself and your body to the limits is off-limits, but if you take pains to prepare for the labor, that will help you grow both physically and mentally stronger.

So, take as many steps as you can (literally!) by walking or by doing safe prenatal workouts to get some of your muscles moving. You‘ll thank yourself for having done the exercises – and so will your baby!