32 weeks 


Highlights this week

Changing positions

In the next few weeks, your baby will likely get into the ideal position for birth – head down, facing your back. About 97 percent of babies get here on their own – but some end up in different positions.

Able to survive and thrive

At 32 weeks, if you have your baby early their chances of doing well are very good. Called moderately preterm, babies born between 32 and 34 weeks often need care in the NICU, but are unlikely to have lasting problems.

Baby movement

Keep monitoring your baby's kicks, and tell your doctor or midwife immediately if you notice a change. Though your baby's quarters are getting cozy, they should still be as active as before.

Baby development at 32 weeks

Storing minerals

Your baby's body is stashing away important minerals such as iron, calcium, and phosphorus. The iron stores your baby builds now last for the first 6 months of life, until your little one starts eating solid foods.

Your baby's lungs

By next month, your baby's lungs will be fully formed. For now, your baby is practicing breathing by inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid.

Your baby's genitalia

If you're having a boy, his external genitalia is formed and his testicles have started descending to the scrotum. If you're having a girl, her uterus and ovaries are in place with all the eggs she'll have.

Having twins?

Learn more about being 32 weeks pregnant with twins.


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Your baby at 32 weeks
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Your baby is about the size of a jicama

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head to toe
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Pregnancy symptoms during week 32

Lightning crotch

While it's not a medical term, lightning crotch is an evocative phrase used to describe sharp pains in the pelvic area you may experience in late pregnancy. Some expecting moms have shooting pain through their groin and into their thigh. Others feel a burning or pins-and-needles sensation. Thankfully, it usually only lasts for a few seconds.

Lightning crotch is likely caused by pressure from your growing baby. In the third trimester, your baby drops down into your pelvis, and this puts pressure on your cervix and the nerves around the lower part of the uterus.

While lightning crotch is certainly painful, and can take your breath away when it zaps you by surprise, it isn't a sign of labor. It happens randomly, unlike labor contractions – which are regular and repeating, and get closer together over time.

Swollen hands and face

A certain amount of edema (swelling) is normal during pregnancy, but excessive swelling may be a sign of a serious condition called preeclampsia. Be sure to call your provider if you have severe or sudden swelling of your feet or ankles, more than slight swelling of your hands, swelling in your face, or puffiness around your eyes.

Some mild to moderate swelling is unavoidable in late pregnancy, but there are some things that can help you manage it. Getting some exercise each day, drinking plenty of water, and wearing comfortable shoes can help decrease your edema. Compression stockings are also helpful, because they put pressure on your legs to discourage fluid retention. When you're resting, prop your legs up. And when you go to bed at night, sleep on your left side. These are small choices that can help improve your swelling over time.

Itching skin

Since your skin is stretching to accommodate the growth of your belly and breasts, it's fairly normal to experience itching during pregnancy. Hormonal changes as well as sensitivity to heat during the summer and dry air in the winter can make these symptoms worse. If you already have a skin condition, like eczema, you might notice your symptoms are more severe while you're pregnant.

If simple treatments like using moisturizer and taking a warm oatmeal bath don't help, talk to your provider about topical, over-the-counter anti-itch medications. Most are safe for pregnancy, but ask before using them.

Less commonly, severe itchiness can be a symptom of an underlying health condition like cholestasis. (This is a liver condition that requires immediate medical treatment.) Reach out to your provider if:

  • you feel very itchy (especially on your hands and feet) but don't have a rash
  • you develop a new rash
  • you have a skin condition that's getting worse

There's a pregnancy-specific skin condition – called PUPPP, or pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy – that causes a very itchy rash. Though it's not dangerous, PUPPP is difficult to live with. Your provider may recommend a topical ointment, oral antihistamine, or oral steroids to treat it.

Stretch marks

Your baby is growing, your body is growing, and your skin is stretching rapidly to keep up. Because of this, you might get stretch marks on your skin, especially on your belly and breasts.

Some women won't get this "badge of motherhood," but at least half of moms do. There are a variety of factors that influence whether you'll get stretch marks, including genetics. If your mother got stretch marks during her pregnancies, you likely will, too. Rapid weight gain, a multiples pregnancy, carrying a large baby, and having excess amniotic fluid can also increase the likelihood of getting stretch marks.

While there plenty of stretch mark creams that promise to help, there isn't a lot you can do to prevent or lessen stretch marks during pregnancy. One thing shown to help lessen the severity is gaining a healthy amount of pregnancy weight, but that's not always in your control.

The good news is that stretch marks usually become considerably less noticeable about six to 12 months after childbirth. The pigmentation fades and they generally become lighter than the surrounding skin. If your post-pregnancy stretch marks bother you, talk to a dermatologist about ways to minimize them.

Varicose veins

Varicose veins are veins that become swollen, becoming visible at the surface of the skin. Many women develop varicose veins – or find they get worse – during pregnancy.

That's because your growing uterus puts pressure on the inferior vena cava, the large vein located on the right side of your body. This puts increased pressure on the veins in the lower half of your body, which can make them stretch. Hormonal changes and your increased blood volume during pregnancy also play a role.

Most commonly, women develop varicose veins on their legs, but you can get them in your pelvic area or buttocks as well. (Hemorrhoids are just varicose veins in the rectal area.) They're not typically painful, but they could feel itchy or uncomfortable. In rare cases, varicose veins ache, throb, or burn.

To avoid getting varicose veins, it can help to stay active and take regular breaks during the day. Both sitting or standing for too long (and crossing your legs while you're sitting) can make varicose veins worse. Eating well and avoiding excessive weight gain can also help prevent or lessen the severity of varicose veins.

Appetite changes

As you near the end of your pregnancy, you might notice that you're less hungry. In the third trimester, some women find their appetite lessens and they have trouble eating larger meals.

This can be attributed to your growing baby, who's getting closer to their birth weight and is crowding your internal organs. With less room, you'll likely find large meals harder to stomach.

Still, you and your baby both need plenty of nutritious food during the last several weeks of pregnancy. In the third trimester, moms-to-be typically require an extra 300 calories each day. To make this possible, try eating small, frequent meals and snacks with a mix of protein, carbs, and healthy fats.

Don't see your symptom?

Wondering about a symptom you have? Find it on our pregnancy symptoms page.

baby in womb at 32 weeks
Your body at 32 weeks
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Pregnancy checklist at 32 weeks

Prepare for breastfeeding

If you're planning to breastfeed and haven't nursed before, start learning about it now. Talk to nursing moms, read these top breastfeeding tips, and consider taking a breastfeeding class. You may want to find a local breastfeeding support group to join as well.

Now's a good time to think about pumping breast milk, too. Even if you won't be working outside the home, you'll likely want to order a pump through your insurance. Many breastfeeding moms turn to pumps to increase their milk supply or so their partner or family members can help by bottle-feeding their baby.

Breastfeeding is a rewarding but challenging task, and it's ideal to have support. While you'll be doing the work of feeding your little one, your partner and loved ones can help you succeed by making meals, running errands, spending time with older kids, and caring for your baby when you need rest.

Narrow down baby names

If you don't have a few great baby names picked out, check out our Baby Names Finder to get inspired. You can search names by popularity, letter, origin, theme, and meaning. And if you're having trouble getting on the same page with your partner, try this exercise: Make a list of ten names you like. Have your partner do the same. Trade lists and each cross out one name on the other's list that you don't love. Keep taking turns until you have a set of names you can both live with.

Decide who'll be in the delivery room

Don't feel pressured to allow relatives and friends into the delivery room if you don't want to. Many moms-to-be just want their partner and medical staff present for their baby's birth.

Now's a good time to consider your expectations for visitors after your baby arrives, too. The people who love you will be anxious to see you and your little one, but the first few days with your newborn require a lot of rest and skin-to-skin time. You may be exhausted, dealing with feeding challenges, or just not up for visits.

Sometimes, your friends and family won't see eye-to-eye with your plans – and that's okay. Set boundaries early, emphasizing when they can visit so you won't have any surprises at the hospital or when you get home with your newborn.

You may choose to keep visits short (a half an hour at a time), block off long stretches of time during the day, or have no visitors for the first few days or weeks. If enforcing these boundaries is difficult for you, don't be afraid to enlist your partner or a close friend to help out.

Stock up on supplies

It's not too early to start thinking about the essentials that will get you through your first several weeks at home with your baby. Consider the household goods you'll need most, such as pantry staples, toilet paper, and toiletries. Make sure you're all set with medicine you take regularly, too.

Stock up on easy-to-prepare, nonperishable food for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. If you're up for spending extra time cooking, you can fill your freezer with prepared meals. If not, shopping the frozen section at the grocery store is a great option.

Gather the things you'll need to care for yourself and your baby after birth. These postpartum products get top marks from BabyCenter moms. Cover the basics, like diapers, wipes, sanitary pads for postpartum bleeding, and comfy postpartum underwear. Now's a good time to make sure you have enough baby clothes, along with bottles and formula if you plan to use them.

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32 weeks pregnant bellies

During the end of pregnancy, your belly will feel tight and heavy. As your uterus grows, it eventually pushes up against your abdominal wall, giving your belly that tight-as-a-drum look and feel. But not every mom-to-be will get a basketball-belly look. Just like our bodies are different before pregnancy, they're different during pregnancy, too!

Tall women have more vertical space for their growing uterus, so may show later. Full-figured or plus-size pregnant women may also show later, as the distinct outline of their bump may be blurred. How your belly looks and feels can vary based on factors like your hormones, pre-pregnancy weight, height, body shape, muscle tone, and whether this is your first baby.

32 weeks pregnant bellies

This week's video



BabyCenter's editorial team is committed to providing the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information in the world. When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you're seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies.

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Mary Sauer

Mary Sauer is a freelance parenting and health writer living in Kansas City. She is a mom of four and loves to hike with her kids, read, and knit. Cooking a complicated meal her kids probably won't eat is one of her favorite pastimes.

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