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Week 33 of Pregnancy

Written by Amina Hatia RM
Medically reviewed by Marley Hall BA RM Diphe
March 08, 2022

At 33 weeks of pregnancy you are now counting down the days towards your due date and looking forward to meeting your baby.  It’s not uncommon to feel like you are juggling many plates at this stage in pregnancy – if you are still working- you probably have lots of loose ends to tie up before going on maternity leave soon, you may still be in the throes of baby equipment shopping or creating a space for baby in your home.  It can all be overwhelming – but remember to take time to relax, to focus on your physical and mental well-being and let others help with your to-do-list.

You may even be getting people asking if you are nesting yet – and may wonder what on earth that means.  Nesting is a common term used to describe a burst of energy that some get in the last few weeks of their pregnancy and often involves lots of activity to clean and get organised before baby’s arrival.

If you do find that nesting is making you want to be a whirlwind of activity, remember to stay safe – be aware of how your body has changed and be careful with heavy lifting, climbing ladders or even just overexerting yourself.

It may or may not affect you, don’t worry if it passes you by – it’s one of those often repeated comments about pregnancy and getting ready for labour, but doesn’t mean it applies to everyone.

How big is my baby at 33 weeks?

Your 33-week sized baby is now as big as a whole pineapple, measuring nearly 44 centimetres in length and weighing a juicy 1.8 kilograms.

What happens in week 33 of pregnancy?

At 33 weeks your baby is continuing to grow and now has a fully developed brain and nervous system.  You may be feeling that baby is getting heavier as your bump grows, but it’s not just weight your little one is gaining, their bones are starting to harden up too in preparation for birth. 

There is however an exception to this though – your baby’s skull, which is made of different parts called plates. These plates will remain soft, with a small diamond shaped gap in between them at the front of baby’s skull and an even smaller triangle shaped area at the back until after your baby is born.

These 2 areas are called fontanelles – skin-covered gaps where the skull plates meet, which you will notice once baby has arrived and take a few months to start closing up.

The reason for this is so that the plates of your baby’s skull have the ability to move a little and even slide over each other during birth, making it a little easier for baby to navigate the birth canal.

Whilst it may all sound a bit alarming – don’t worry, it’s a perfect design by mother nature to help us birth our babies!

Week 33 pregnancy symptoms

Insomnia – Your sleep being affected is a very common pregnancy symptom and can start as early as the first trimester lasting right up until the birth of your baby.  This can leave you feeling shattered, exhausted and have an effect on your physical and mental well-being too.

It’s thought that one of the reasons for insomnia in pregnancy is due to the hormonal changes that happen due to pregnancy which can leave you feeling tired and emotional. The extra weight of pregnancy in the third trimester can also have an impact, affecting how you lie, trying to find a comfortable position to sleep – not to mention an active and moving baby who wants to dance when you lie down!

Your tiredness will not cause harm to you or your baby but being run down can make you feel low and make life feel more difficult, so getting help is important if you are really struggling with sleep.

It’s also not uncommon to find yourself, especially in the third trimester having strange and deep dreams – often about life with a baby or the birth of your baby.  This is completely understandable – it’s what you are thinking about and possibly worried about the most at the moment, so it will pop up in your dreams too. Remember, just because you dream something, it does not mean it’s going to happen. 

Try the following to help with your insomnia:

  • Gentle exercise during the day
  • Try to avoid heavy meals late in the evening
  • Cut out caffeine 
  • A warm bath or shower can help
  • Get used to going to sleep at a regular time
  • Avoid using screens or devices for 30 mins before lights out

Sleeping positions in pregnancy – You have heard that sleeping on your side is the safest position for you and your baby in pregnancy.  This is based on extensive research and advice from Tommy’s – the baby charity, who have a range of guidance about the safest position for you to sleep in during your third trimester. Essentially after 28 weeks going to sleep on your back can increase the risk of stillbirth by 50%. This is thought to be due to weight and pressure of your pregnant body, bump and baby on the main blood vessels that supply the uterus, which can then affect the flow of blood and oxygen to the baby.

Which side you sleep on doesn’t really matter, find the one that is most comfortable for you – just not on your back! And if you wake up in the night and find you are on your back, don’t worry – just turn back onto your side.

Week 33 pregnancy tips

  • Relaxation exercise can really help you feel calmer and help with better sleep – find ones that work for you and are easy to do
  • Making your sleep environment cooler can help too – you can feel extra warm in pregnancy, so turning down the heating can help get a good night’s sleep.
  • Pregnancy pillows and bump supports can also really help in the third trimester – they help support your bump and can help you get nice and comfy during the night, leading to a better night of sleep!